Shakespeare and Ovid

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Clarendon Press, 1993 - Literary Criticism - 292 pages
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This is the first comprehensive account of the relationship between Shakespeare and his favourite poet, Ovid. Jonathan Bate examines the full range of Shakespeare's work, identifying Ovid's presence not only in the narrative poems and pastoral comedies, but also in the Sonnets and mature tragedies. He shows how profoundly creative Ovid's influence was, from the raped Lavinia's turning of the pages of the Metamorphoses in Titus Andronicus, and the staging of Pyramus and Thisbe in A Midsummer Night's Dream, to the reanimation of Hermione's statue in The Winter's Tale and Prospero's renunciation of his magic in The Tempest. The Heroides are shown to have been vital to Shakespeare's female characters, but it is the Metamorphoses which animate Professor Bate's book, just as they animated the whole of Shakespeare's career. This original and elegantly written book reveals Shakespeare as an extraordinarily sophisticated reader of Ovidian myth and as a metamorphic artist as fluidand nimble as his classical original. From reviews of the hardback: 'Jonathan Bate has written the first comprehensive account of Shakespeare's relationship with the poet who influenced him most deeply . . . His book is a fine example of scholarship put at the service of Shakespeare.' Sunday Telegraph 'Bate's choice of Ovid as affording a means of returning to the idea of literature as transcending history seems to me both correct and very cunning . . . Bate is, again and again, brilliant.' London Review of Books 'excellent study . . . he brilliantly demonstrates the fructifying presence of Ovid, overtly in the early and late work but also as a subtler "underpresence" in the mature tragedies.' Shakespeare Survey

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About the author (1993)

Jonathan Bate is at University of Liverpool.

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