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Shakespearean Resurrection
The Art of Almost Raising the Dead
Sean Benson



Medieval & Renaissance Literary Studies

Duquesne
2009 • 229 pp. 6 x 9"
Literary Criticism - Renaissance / Literary Criticism - Shakespeare / Christianity - Literature & Arts


$70.00 Hardcover, 978-0-8207-0416-6



“Benson] makes careful, sensible arguments for Shakespeare’s Christian humanist syncretism, in which classical and Christian material blends. . . . Gradually he chips away at contemporary resistance to... [continued in Reviews below]”—Renaissance Quarterly

This engaging book demonstrates Shakespeare's abiding interest in the theatrical potential of the Christian resurrection from the dead. In 14 of Shakespeare's plays, characters who have been lost, sometimes for years, suddenly reappear seemingly returning from the dead. In the classical recognition scene, such moments are explained away in naturalistic terms a character was lost at sea but survived, or abducted and escaped, and so on. Shakespeare never invalidates such explanations, but in his manipulation of classical conventions he parallels these moments with the recognition scenes from the Gospels, repeatedly evoking Christ's resurrection from the dead.

Benson's close study of the plays, as well as the classical and biblical sources that Shakespeare fuses into his recognition scenes, clearly elucidates the ways in which the playwright explored his abiding interest in the human desire to transcend death and to live reunited and reconciled with others. In his manipulation of resurrection imagery, Shakespeare conflates the material with the immaterial, the religious with the secular, and the sacred with the profane.

Reviews / Endorsements

“[Benson] makes careful, sensible arguments for Shakespeare’s Christian humanist syncretism, in which classical and Christian material blends. . . . Gradually he chips away at contemporary resistance to reading Shakespearean drama from a perspective that involves Christianity in any way. Although he targets materialist criticism in particular, he speaks persuasively to an era in which even legitimate attention to the plays’ theological dimensions is generally shunned as old-fashioned, even heretical.” —Renaissance Quarterly

“In a critical atmosphere dominated by the secular, Benson’s discussion of Lear and the other plays he explores in this study is thoughtful and persuasive. He refuses to impose Christian theology or ideology on Shakespeare or the plays yet shows the necessity for including the undeniably present biblical allusions and the contemporary Christian world view of the time in any serious interpretive discussion of these works.” —Religion and the Arts

“Benson performs an important work; readers will find their minds spinning as they rethink the endings of many of Shakespeare’s plays. . . . Shakespearean Resurrection is a welcome book that adds its weight to the growing body of works that are reclaiming, from a new perspective, some of the space from which the materialists have displaced the humanists.” —Shakespeare Quarterly



SEAN BENSON is professor of English at University of Dubuque. He currently serves on the executive board for the South Central Renaissance Conference and on the Reader Advisory Board for Explorations in Renaissance Culture.



Wed, 2 Aug 2017 09:23:30 -0500