Shakespeare and the Denial of Death
James L. Calderwood offers a lively exploration of the ways in which Shakespeare dramatizes the strategies people employ to deal with and transcend the inevitability of death. In keeping with the views of Ernest Becker, Norman O. Brown, and others, Calderwood argues that the denial of death is fundamental to both individuals and their cultures. By drawing on a fascinating range of examples, he suggests how often and how variously Shakespeare dramatizes this desire for symbolic immortality.
"This book takes its place at the head of a series of lively studies that makes Calderwood one of the most respected, and most idiosyncratic, of academic Shakespeareans. In these essayistic excursions into aspects of Shakespeare's plays, Calderwood in effect defines 'man' as the animal who knows he will die, and spends his life denying the knowledge; and Shakespeare as the playwright who most extensively dramatizes both the deadly knowledge and its avoidance. Calderwood treats his massive subject with an appearance of ease, drawing on a comprehensive knowledge of Shakespeare and an interestingly eclectic knowledge of modern psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and criticism, all of it rendered in his distinctive style of serious wit."—Lawrence Danson, Princeton University