This is a fascinating study revealing Shakespeare's career-long engagement with the sea and his frequent use of maritime imagery. We need a poetic history of the ocean, and Shakespeare can help us find one. There's more real salt in the plays than we first expect. Shakespeare's dramatic ocean spans the God-sea of the ancient world and the immense blue vistas that early modern mariners navigated. Throughout his career, from the opening shipwrecks of "The Comedy of Errors" through "The Tempest", Shakespeare's plays figure the ocean as shocking physical reality and mind-twisting symbol of change and instability. To fathom Shakespeare's ocean - to go down to its bottom - this book's chapters focus on different things that humans do with and in and near the sea: fathoming, keeping watch, swimming, beachcombing, fishing, and drowning. Mentz also sets Shakespeare's sea-poetry against modern literary seascapes, including the vast Pacific of "Moby-Dick", the rocky coast of Charles Olson's "Maximus Poems", and the lyrical waters of the postcolonial "Caribbean". Uncovering the depths of Shakespeare's maritime world, this book draws out the centrality of the sea in our literary culture.
"Shakespeare Now!" is a series of short books that engage imaginatively and often provocatively with the possibilities of Shakespeare's plays. It goes back to the source - the most living language imaginable - and recaptures the excitement, audacity and surprise of Shakespeare. It will return you to the plays with opened eyes.
Steve Mentz is Associate Professor of English at St. John's University in New York City, USA, where he teaches Shakespeare and Renaissance literature. He is author of Romance for Sale in Early Modern England (Ashgate, 2006) and co-editor of Rogues and Early Modern English Culture (Michigan, 2004). His maritime research has been supported by the Folger Shakespeare Library, the John Carter Brown Library, Mystic Seaport, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Maritime Museum in London.
1. Fathoming Shakespeare's Ocean: The Tempest and King Lear; 2. Shipwreck with Spectators: Othello; Interlude: Sunken Treasure; 3. Swimming: The Comedy of Errors; 4. Beachcombing: Twelfth Night; Interlude: What the Pirates say to Hamlet; 5. Fishing: Pericles; 6. Brave New View: The Merchant of Venice and Two Noble Kinsmen; 7. Drowning: Timon of Athens; Concluding Interlude: Toward a Blue Ecology; Further Reading; Index.