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Religion in the Age of Shakespeare

by Christopher Baker

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Baker, professor on English at Armstrong Atlantic, is better at literature and literary criticism than he is at history and theology. I found numerous errors in the text and in the index. For example, he describes Puritanism, --Shakespeare's characters refer to them usually in a negative way--but Baker does not mention that the Puritans were strong critics of the theater and certainly would not be a segment of society that the Bard catered to! Baker does not grasp the essential of the Anabaptist faith and states that Quakers descended from that movement. He describes Montanism as an eschatological heresy rather than as a reaction again the formalizing trends in the early church. He places Tyndale in the discussions of the White Horse Inn and in the company of Luther.

Nevertheless, Baker is correct to point that one cannot understand Shakespeare without understanding that religion permeated the age in which he lived. For years, scholars have tried to establish Shakespeare's personal faith by studying his writings and Baker cites the studies without resolving the dilemma. ( )
  DrSmeeton | Jul 6, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0313336369, Hardcover)

Shakespeare's plays were the product of his culture and reflect the daily life of Elizabethans. This book examines the religious background of his works and helps students use his plays to understand religion in Elizabethan England. The initial chapters survey the role of religion in Shakespeare's world. The volume then looks at religion in his plays and how productions from different periods have addressed the religious issues of his drama. A chapter then overviews criticism on Shakespeare and religion, while a selection of primary documents illuminates his religious milieu.

Students often find the Elizabethan world fascinating yet challenging. The same can be said of Shakespeare's plays, which reflect the daily life and concerns of Elizabethan England and grew out of his milieu. Written for students, this book illuminates the religious life of Elizabethan England, promotes a greater understanding of Shakespeare's plays, and uses Shakespeare's works to examine Early Modern religious culture.

The volume begins with a quick overview of the origins of Elizabethan religious traditions, followed by a more detailed consideration of the chief religious beliefs and concerns of Shakespeare's world. It then discusses the role of religion in Shakespeare's plays. This is followed by a look at how various productions have interpreted his religious concerns. A review of criticism on Shakespeare and religion follows, along with a selection of primary documents related to religion in his world. A glossary defines key terms and concepts, and a bibliography cites print and electronic resources for further study. Literature students will welcome this book as a guide to Shakespeare's plays, while history students will value it for using his plays to examine religion in the Early Modern era.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:29 -0400)

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