Shakespeare in purgatory : a study of the Catholicising movement in Shakespeare biography
Kozuka, Takashi (2003) Shakespeare in purgatory : a study of the Catholicising movement in Shakespeare biography. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1665527~S1
The twentieth and the twenty-first centuries have Catholicised Shakespeare. At the
heart of this movement lie the so-called Lancastrian theories: that Shakespeare spent
some time during his `lost years' in Lancashire and that he is to be identified with
`Will[i]am Shakeshafte' in the will of the Catholic magnate, Alexander Hoghton of
Lea. Although the proponents of the theories - aptly called `Lancastrians' - agree in
terms of the identification of `Shakeshafte' with Shakespeare, their arguments vary
and sometimes even contradict each other. We have, therefore, Lancastrian theories
(plural). They are attempts to investigate the whereabouts of Shakespeare during the
`lost years' and to find out the means by which he entered the London theatre.
The Lancastrian theories can be seen in part as a counter-movement against
recent Shakespeare scholarship that has been preoccupied with theory. Paradoxically,
another stimulus for the revival of biographical studies is literary critics' interest in
early modem history, which materialist criticism, especially new historicism, has
brought in since the 1980s. Religion has become a major issue in Shakespeare studies.
The modem historiography of the English Reformation, especially `revisionism',
which emphasises the continuation of medieval Catholicism after the Reformation,
has provided significant energy for the development of the Lancastrian theories.
Furthermore, the Lancastrians have their own agenda - personal ambitions and
motivations, some of which are not altogether scholarly.
However, these theories are for the most part based on a chain of speculations,
and tend to state them as fact. The biographers, whether Lancastrians or not, who
believe Shakespeare and his family to have been Catholics are unfamiliar with the
religious condition in Elizabethan England, including anti-Catholic acts and the
penalties imposed on recusants. Their arguments also neglect other Elizabethan
customs. These biographers' lack of profound knowledge of socio-political and
religious history of Elizabethan England has produced inaccurate dramatisation of
Shakespeare's life. One other disabling tendency among these biographers is to
neglect negative evidence and disregard alternative interpretations. Their approaches
to Shakespeare biography simplify the complexity of documentary evidence and
produce narrowness of view.
In Elizabethan England a series of continuous religious negotiations and
renegotiations took place. Through this struggle, the clear-cut division between
Catholicism and Protestantism was deconstructed, and there emerged `religious
pluralism' -a compromise between Catholicism and Protestantism. It was in this
complex matrix that Shakespeare was born, grew up and wrote plays and poems. It is
against this cultural background that we should study Shakespeare's life (or lives).
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||P Language and Literature > PR English literature|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Criticism and interpretation, Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Religion, Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Historiography|
|Official Date:||June 2003|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Centre for the Study of the Renaissance|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Mulryne, J. R. ; Marshall, Peter, 1964 Oct. 16-|
|Extent:||xi, 456 p.|
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