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Death by Shakespeare : snakebites, stabbings…
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Death by Shakespeare : snakebites, stabbings and broken hearts (editie 2020)

door Kathryn Harkup

LedenBesprekingenPopulariteitGemiddelde beoordelingAanhalingen
403475,525 (3.63)5
Titel:Death by Shakespeare : snakebites, stabbings and broken hearts
Auteurs:Kathryn Harkup
Info:London : Bloomsbury Sigma, 2020.
Verzamelingen:Read, Te lezen
Trefwoorden:2020, Will's World


Death By Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts door Kathryn Harkup


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Toon 3 van 3
Rating of 4.95. Excellent discussion of Death in the Context of Shakespeare's plays and what his fellow citizens experienced living in Tudor London. The only thing missing, for me at least, was photos of staged plays to accompany discussion of the various types of death. ( )
  Steve_Walker | Sep 13, 2020 |
"Death By Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts," by Kathryn Harkup, is what it says it is: a book about all the ways in which William Shakespeare killed off characters in his plays and sonnets. Ms. Harkup, a chemist, first describes the Bard’s life and times, and then moves on to how he could have come to know about the effects of certain types of death (i.e., how some poisons work, or what kinds of methods the state used to execute people - something everyone in his time would have known because executions were common and public) and whether some of his more fanciful killings could be effective. Ms. Harkup writes in a lively style, bringing in quotes from the plays and then dissecting them. There are extensive bottom-of-the-page notes to add more context to the main text, as well as a useful appendix in which she lists all of the killed characters in each play and the means of their deaths. There are no academic notes, but she does include a very extensive bibliography that includes material from Shakespeare’s own time right up through to our present, with particular emphasis on medical discoveries made in the 1800s. I found the book a fascinating read, but must warn that it is full of graphic descriptions of gory, disgusting deaths, so it is definitely not for the faint of heart! ( )
  thefirstalicat | Aug 16, 2020 |
Magnificent attention to detail! This book offers an amazing look at the science behind the deaths in Shakespeare’s plays.

But let’s start at the beginning. Before even going into Shakespeare’s literary treatment of death, this book explores the idea of death as it would have been understood in Shakespeare’s day. This was a time when public executions were common occurrences, and theatre-goers who would watch Romeo and Juliet die on the stage might just as easily have witnessed actual deaths on a scaffold. Death was present, and talked about, and seen all around. It wasn’t something that was only ever euphemistically referred to in hushed tones—it was part of the fabric of society, and a deeply personal part of everyone’s life. Shakespeare’s very profession had been shaped by death. He was a playwright struggling to support himself and his family during at time when going to the theatre was often illegal. Due to the large numbers of people dying from the plague, all sorts of public gatherings, including theatres, were banned. This was the time when Shakespeare would turn to writing poetry to support himself and his family. Then the disease would die down, he’d return to London, and he’d continue to write plays until the next major outbreak. And the disease didn’t just shape his profession: it also killed his only son when he was only 11 years old. Death was a very intimate part of Shakespeare’s life. No wonder it turned up so often in his plays.

In describing his plays, the scope and the depth of this book surprised me immensely. It covers all the deaths that Shakespeare used in all his plays, and it divides them into chapters based on type, such as poison, execution, war, bear attack, etc. (And yes, I’m serious about those bears.) Everything is grounded in context: the death-related excerpts of Shakespeare’s plays are given in context of the larger plot, and, in the case of the histories, Shakespeare’s details are compared with those of the historical record. Then, the death, as described by Shakespeare, is given a very thorough scientific analysis. How many of Shakespeare’s deaths are realistic? (Quite a lot, it seems.) How about when he’s vague: what are the different possible explanations? (Did I mention that this book has a lot of fascinating conjecture? So many possibilities!) Can Claudius really have poisoned his brother by pouring it in his EAR? Do poisons even work that way? (No spoilers here. You’ll have to read the book to find this one out!) Parts of this book are morbid and gruesome, but mostly it’s a highly readable and clear scientific analysis. It makes connections to modern cases and treats the deaths, as much as possible, with dignity and respect. All in all, a compelling look at the many ways to shuffle off this mortal coil. ( )
1 stem MuuMuuMousie | May 26, 2020 |
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