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Shakespearean Metaphysics

Shakespearean Metaphysics
Your Price: $25.95 CDN
Author: Michael Witmore
Publisher: Continuum
Series: Shakespeare Now!
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 144
Pub. Date: 2008
ISBN-10: 0826490441
ISBN-13: 9780826490445

About the Book:

The works of Shakespeare are rocket-boosters to the brain and better therapy than self-help books.

Metaphysics is usually associated with that part of the philosophical tradition which asks about last things, questions such as: How many substances are there in the world? Which is more fundamental, quantity or quality? Are events prior to things, or do they happen to those things?

While he wasn't a philosopher, Shakespeare was obviously interested in ultimates of this sort. Instead of probing these issues with argument, however, he did so with plays. Shakespearean Metaphysics argues for Shakespeare's inclusion within a metaphysical tradition that opposes empiricism and Cartesian dualism. Through close readings of three major plays — The Tempest, King Lear and Twelfth NightMichael Witmore proposes that Shakespeare's manner of depicting life on stage itself constitutes an answer to metaphysical questions raised by later thinkers as Spinoza, Bergson, and Whitehead. Each of these readings shifts the interpretative frame around the plays in radical ways; taken together they show the limits of our understanding of theatrical play as an illusion generated by the physical circumstances of production.

What people say:

"Witmore's literary analyses of the plays' dramatic details are generally excellent ... and his prose in most explications is supple, lucid, and often nicely poetic." — English Studies

"Foregrounding dramaturgy (the staging of bodies, audience, the materiality of performance) in Twelfth Night, King Lear, and The Tempest rather than ideas voiced in speeches, and deploying a different philosopher — Whitehead, Bergson, Spinoza — for each play, Witmore builds a compelling vision of Shakespeare as a metaphysician of immanence… Lucid and original." — Brian Rotman, Professor, Ohio State University

About the Author:

Michael Witmore was Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, where he has taught since 2008. Prior to that, he was an Associate Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University. A scholar of Shakespeare and early modern literature as well as a pioneer in the digital analysis of Shakespeare’s texts, he is currently the director the Folger Shakespeare Library.