Synopses & Reviews
"This ambitious but somewhat rambling study shows how Shakespeare presents man attempting to deny death through 'immortality projects' involving such diverse human inventions as clothing and ritual. The generality of Calderwood's theme forces him to find examples of it throughout the plays, and his book often feels like an unconnected catalog of the memento morí in the Shakespearean corpus. But when the diffuseness of Mr. Calderwood's deadly rubric fades to the background, he turns in some fine interpretations of individual plays, such as his powerful demonstration of the procreative function of metaphor in The Merchant of Venice." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
James L. Calderwood offers a lively exploration of the ways in which Shakespeare dramatizes the strategies people employ to deal with and transcend the inevitability of death. In keeping with the views of Ernest Becker, Norman O. Brown, and others, Calderwood argues that the denial of death is fundamental to both individuals and their cultures. By drawing on a fascinating range of examples, he suggests how often and how variously Shakespeare dramatizes this desire for symbolic immortality.