Brian Cummings

in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566105
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature


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Religion appears to be the last great mystery in Shakespeare studies. For much of the twentieth century, the topic appeared marginal. Shakespeare's religion remains an enquiry that evokes a special form of quizzicality. David Bevington, in an essay on Shakespeare's Ideas, takes on the topic of religion almost last of all, just before that of scepticism. Like others, he is more certain of establishing grounds for Shakespeare's scepticism than for his belief. Opinion about Shakespeare's religion, while more vocal than ever, is still openly divided. Stephen Greenblatt confirmed his view that Shakespeare lived a life in the shadow of Catholic belief. Shakespeare loved damaged institutional goods, and he drew upon them for aesthetic purposes all his life. Meanwhile, A. D. Nuttall came to the opposite conclusion: Shakespeare ‘writes as if the Reformation hasn't even happened’.

Keywords: Shakespeare's faith; Shakespeare's religion; Shakespeare's Ideas; David Bevington; Reformation; A. D. Nuttall; Stephen Greenblatt

Article.  8238 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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