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Book description

Whose English is 'true' English? What is its relation to the national character? These were urgent questions in Shakespeare's England just as questions of language and identity are today. Through close readings of early comedies and history plays, this study demonstrates how Shakespeare resists the shaping of ideas of the English language and national character by Protestant Reformation ideology. Tudeau-Clayton argues this ideology promoted the notional temperate and honest citizen, plainly spoken and plainly dressed, as the normative centre of (the) 'true' English. Compelling studies of two symmetrical pairs of cultural memes: 'the King's English' versus 'the gallimaufry' and 'the true-born Englishman' versus the 'Fantastical Gull', demonstrate how 'the traitor' came to be defined as much by non-conformity to cultural 'habits' as by allegiance to the monarch. Tudeau-Clayton cogently argues Shakespeare subverted this narrow, class-inflected concept of English identity, proposing instead an inclusive, mixed and unlimited community of 'our English'.


‘Readers of Shakespeare’s Englishes may well find its contents inspiring and comforting: a celebration of Shakespeare’s language and his apparent spirit of inclusivity.’

Marisa R. Cull Source: The Review of English Studies

‘… this is a book that amply repays close reading … The sheer range of detail, the lateral thinking that draws examples into surprising combinations from right across Elizabethan culture, and the scholarly apparatus that sustains these connections is impressive, and this book will prove a valuable resource for future editors of Shakespeare’s plays.’

John Drakakis Source: Notes and Queries

‘Shakespeare’s Englishes is a carefully researched and documented work interested in the ‘cultural rhyme between then and now’ that merges ‘topicality with presentism.’ A valuable resource for those working on Shakespeare and English identity or Shakespeare and language.’

K. K. Smith Source: Choice

'... this book offers is a timely and generous one, underpinned by careful scholarship and nuanced critical analysis.'

Tom Rutter Source: Modern Language Review

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