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Title: A Subject for Love in The Merry Wives of Windsor
Contributor(s): Barnes, Diana  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2015
DOI: 10.1057/9781137531162
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Abstract: Harold Bloom's argument that Shakespeare's plays represent 'the outward limit of human achievement aesthetically, cognitively, in certain ways morally, even spiritually', was a new spin on an old argument established over the eighteenth century and entrenched through an educational programme disseminated throughout the British Empire and the greater English-speaking world over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For Bloom et al. it is because Shakespeare is the origin of what it means to be human, that his oeuvre is the ultimate authority on our emotions. Making the point that we cannot 'conceive of ourselves without Shakespeare', Bloom cites Owen Barfield who wrote in 1928 that 'there is a very real sense, humiliating as it may seem, in which what we generally venture to call our feelings are really Shakespeare's "meaning'". One simple reason for this is the fact that 'Shakespeare. The very name evokes the acme of the English language', as Seth Lerer asserts in Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language (2013). Indeed, Shakespeare is the single most cited authority in the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1989) with over 33,000 references to his works. According to Lerer, 'He coined ... six thousand new words'. Certainly the roots of modern English - including many of the words and concepts we use to describe and understand our emotions - derive from this period, and in this sense, as Lerer asserts, 'Shakespeare stands on the cusp of modernity'. But, this has less to do with Shakespeare's individual genius and inventiveness and more to do with a socio-discursive revolution underway during his lifetime.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Grant Details: ARC/CE110001011
Source of Publication: Authority, Gender and Emotions in Late Medieval and Early Modern England, p. 168-186
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Place of Publication: Houndmills, United Kingdom
ISBN: 9781137531155
Field of Research (FOR): 200503 British and Irish Literature
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO): 950504 Understanding Europe's Past
950203 Languages and Literature
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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Series Name: Genders and Sexualities in History
Statistics to Oct 2018: Visitors: 4
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Editor: Editor(s): Susan Broomhall
Appears in Collections:Book Chapter
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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