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  • Cited by 2
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
October 2020
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Book description

Shakespeare's tragic characters have often been seen as forerunners of modern personhood. It has been assumed that Shakespeare was able to invent such lifelike figures in part because of his freedom from the restrictions of classical form. Curtis Perry instead argues that characters such as Hamlet and King Lear have seemed modern to us in part because they are so robustly connected to the tradition of Senecan tragedy. Resituating Shakespearean tragedy in this way - as backward looking as well as forward looking - makes it possible to recover a crucial political dimension. Shakespeare saw Seneca as a representative voice from post-republican Rome: in plays such as Coriolanus and Othello he uses Senecan modes of characterization to explore questions of identity in relation to failures of republican community. This study has important implications for the way we understand character, community, and alterity in early modern drama.


'Curtis Perry’s Shakespeare and Senecan Tragedy is a rich, complex and thought provoking book that breaks new ground in Shakespeare studies … manages to reorient many of the critical issues that have been central to modern and contemporary scholarly discussions of Shakespeare, thereby producing brilliant results and providing a hugely valuable contribution to Shakespeare and early modern studies, as well as classical reception studies.’

Domenico Lovascio Source: Early Modern Literary Studies

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