How does the rash yet serene Hamlet of act 5 arise from the passive and grief-stricken Hamlet of act 1? What path leads him from sickened thoughts of birth and incest to the certainty that thoughtfulness itself must be escaped through bold action? The roles of Senecan avenger and patient Christian may seem worlds apart, observes William Kerrigan, but Shakespeare fused them in a character that has fascinated the world for centuries.
In this lively study, Kerrigan celebrates both Hamlet's perfectionthe character's creation of new ideals out of an inheritance of disillusionment—and Hamlet 's perfection—the play's brilliance as Shakespeare's greatest tragedy. Kerrigan's approach reflects his interests in literary formalism, historical scholarship, intellectual history, and psychoanalysis.
About the Author
William Kerrigan is professor of English at the University of Massachusetts. His books include The Prophetic Milton and The Sacred Complex.
Kerrigan's reading of the tradition is illuminating, subtle, informed, and informative, and he uses it to establish his reading of the play, working within the tradition but extending it to hitherto unseen and insightful ways.
Kerrigan is a consummate scholar. He shows the historical currents within which Hamlet was created and has lived until the present moment. There are flashes of brilliance throughout the book, and a great deal of original and provocative dialogue with other readings of the play—including a powerful thesis about Hamlet's relation to the Senecan tradition. The writing is energetic, accessible, readable, and refreshingly free of the codified terminology of so much contemporary criticism.
|Johns Hopkins University Press|
Other Titles by William Kerrigan
Other Titles in LITERARY CRITICISM / Semiotics & Theory
Other Titles in Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800