What is the nature of romantic love and erotic desire in Shakespeare's work? In this erudite and yet accessible study, David Schalkwyk addresses this question by exploring the historical contexts, theory and philosophy of love. Close readings of Shakespeare's plays and poems are delivered through the lens of historical texts from Plato to Montaigne, and modern writers including Jacques Lacan, Jean-Luc Marion, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jacques Derrida, Alain Badiou and Stanley Cavell. Through these studies, it is argued that Shakespeare has no single or overarching concept of love, and that in Shakespeare's work, love is not an emotion. Rather, it is a form of action and disposition, to be expressed and negotiated linguistically.
David Schalkwyk is Academic Director of Global Shakespeare and has a Chair in Shakespeare Studies at Queen Mary University of London. He was formerly Director of Research at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC and editor of the Shakespeare Quarterly. His books include Speech and Performance in Shakespeare's Sonnets and Plays (Cambridge, 2002), Literature and the Touch of the Real (2004), and Shakespeare, Love and Service (Cambridge, 2008), Hamlet's Dreams: The Robben Island Shakespeare (2013) and The Word Against the World: The Bakhtin Circle (2016).
Introduction. 1. Shaping fantasies; 2. Love's troubled consummations; 3. The impossible gift of love; 4. The finality of the you; 5. Is love an emotion?