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Godless Shakespeare (Shakespeare Now) Paperback – March 23, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Shakespeare Now
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 1 edition (March 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826490425
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826490421
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,749,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Always intriguing, usually provocative and occasionally infuriating, Godless Shakespeare is a brilliant meditation on Shakespeare's ways with his characters and the systems of moral values in which we place them. Mallin's Shakespeare is never constricted by conventional parameters of religion and belief but instead is a thoroughly original creator, demanding our engaged moral response to his creations. In Mallin'sexcitingly heterodoxcosmology, Cleopatra and Aaron, Pericles and Isabella find themselves with unexpected companions in the new heaven, hell and purgatory in which Mallin arranges them. Thinking about Shakespeare and religion has never seemed such fun." - Professor Peter Holland, Notre Dame University, USA (Professor Peter Holland, Notre Dame University)

"If Nietzsche were put in charge of Dente's afterlife, and then asked to find appropriate places for Shakespeare's characters, the result would be something like this. Eric Mallin's perverse and excoriating anti-metaphysic shows just how many settled assumptions about Shakespeare are overturned when religion in his plays is taken seriously. Audacious and innovative, Mallin conflates renaissance scepticism and modern atheism, scattering light and darkness equally as he sears Christianity with a torch lit from the Christian flame." - Professor Graham Holderness, University of Hertfordshire, UK
(Professor Graham Holderness, University of Hertfordshire, UK)

"At last! An iconoclastic Shakespeare with a mind and spirit unconstrained by orthodox religion. Eric Mallin guides us through the undiscovered country where the bard's spirituality survives in and as unbelief. Godless Shakespeare is beautifully written, well-conceived, and irresistibly funny. I felt as though I were encountering the plays for the first time." - Professor David Riggs, author of The World of Christopher Marlowe (Professor David Riggs, author of The World of Christopher Marlowe)

"Defying recent Catholic and Protestant claims to Shakespeare's endorsement, and challenging Stephen Greenblatt's claim that Renaissance atheism was merely a defensive shadow cast by Christianity, Mallin's wide-ranging book suggests that Shakespeare recognized Christianity as a defense against the burdens of unbelief, which has important values of its own. With its taxonomy of characters into a non-religious ethical hierarchy, Godless Shakespeare jauntily defies the conventional wisdom about a writer who himself typically defied such wisdom." - Professor Robert Watson, UCLA, USA (Professor Robert Watson, UCLA)

"Where is Shakespeare now? This question is the brief for a new series of short books from Continuum, an enterprising publisher trying to break down the border between academic literary criticism and books for the thoughtful general reader...Eric Mallan's Godless Shakespeare helpfully reminds us that the plays are fundamentally engaged with the art of being human and living in society, not with the different dispensations of the Catholic and Protestant churches." - Jonathan Bate, The Sunday Telegraph (Jonathan Bate Sunday Telegraph)

-Mention. Daily Telegraph/ April 8, 2007 (The Daily Telegraph)

"The book is both fun and funny; it is often exciting and irreverent. Like Bruster's and Davis's books in the same series, it is able to stimulate thinking with a fairly light...touch. Hearing South Park's Eric Cartman weigh in on the Eucharist in a mostly relevant way was extremely pleasurable." - Peter G. Platt, Studies in English Literature, Spring 2008 (Peter G. Platt)

"Mallin offers readings of selected plays, organized, clumsily, by the tripartite structure of Dante's Comedy, and occasionally intersperses his interpretations with cynical reflections on contemporary Christianity...Mallin accomplishes less than his titles promises. Godless Shakespeare reveals not a Godless Shakespeare, but a Godless Mallin...Mallin's analysis is also anachronistic. He projects the late modern struggle of fundamentalisms back into the 16th century. " - Peter J. Leithart, Christianity Today, September/October 2008 (Peter J. Leithart)

"This entire 'mini-graph,' in fact, is a cheerful map of misreading by a writer resolutely determined to force Shakespeare to share his own atheist views...There is a perfectly sound book to be written about Shakespeare's changing religious views, from his early Creationism and endorsement of the Great Chain of Being to his reluctantly evolving, horrified sense (stimulated by such conscienceless villains as Iago and Edmund) that there may be nothing transcendent in the universe beyond Nature. But Godless Shakespeare is not that book. In a vain effort to enlist Shakespeare into the legions of contemporary atheists, not to mention his compulsion to say something, anything original about the plays, the author often falls into stylistic contortions and strained anachronisms." - Robert Brustein, American Theatre, September 2008 (Robert Brustein)

Mention —Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance, Tome LXX-2008

"The ambitious project of the Shakespeare NOW series is to bridge the gap between 'scholarly thinking and a public audience' and 'public audience and scholarly thinking'. Scholars are encouraged to write in a way accessible to a general readership and readers to rise to the challenge and not be afraid of new ideas and the adventure they offer. There are other bridges the series is ambitious to cross: 'formal, political or theoretical boundaries' — history and philosophy, theory, and performance."
English Vol. 58, 2009


"[Shakespeare Now! is] an innovative new series... Series editors Simon Palfry and Ewan Fernie have rejected the notion of business as usual in order to pursue a distinctive strategy that aims to put "cutting-edge scholarship" in front of a broad audience. Shakespeare Now! with its insistent appeal to the contemporary- this is fresh Shakespeare for readers turned off by the prospect of dry-as-dust scholarship-aims to reach a general audience... Eric S. Mallin's Godless Shakespeare is perhaps the most self-consciously iconoclastic of the group.... [his] work is thoroughly and throughout personal... Mallin's is a courageous and fascinating performance, and there is no question that it grows out of some serious thinking... Godless Shakespeare is a deeply personal essay"
(Shakespeare Quarterly)

"This is a persuasive and well-argued work, based on evidence and examples from key texts in the Shakespearean oeuvre. It succeeds very well in fulfilling the aim of the general editors of the series in reaching out to the general reader, without compromising its scholarly rigor."
-Abdulla Al-Dabbagh, The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 39, Winter 2008


"Always intriguing, usually provocative and occasionally infuriating, Godless Shakespeare is a brilliant meditation on Shakespeare's ways with his characters and the systems of moral values in which we place them. Mallin's Shakespeare is never constricted by conventional parameters of religion and belief but instead is a thoroughly original creator, demanding our engaged moral response to his creations. In Mallin's excitingly heterodox cosmology, Cleopatra and Aaron, Pericles and Isabella find themselves with unexpected companions in the new heaven, hell and purgatory in which Mallin arranges them. Thinking about Shakespeare and religion has never seemed such fun." - Professor Peter Holland, Notre Dame University, USA (Sanford Lakoff)

"If Nietzsche were put in charge of Dente's afterlife, and then asked to find appropriate places for Shakespeare's characters, the result would be something like this. Eric Mallin's perverse and excoriating anti-metaphysic shows just how many settled assumptions about Shakespeare are overturned when religion in his plays is taken seriously. Audacious and innovative, Mallin conflates renaissance scepticism and modern atheism, scattering light and darkness equally as he sears Christianity with a torch lit from the Christian flame." - Professor Graham Holderness, University of Hertfordshire, UK
(Sanford Lakoff)

"At last! An iconoclastic Shakespeare with a mind and spirit unconstrained by orthodox religion. Eric Mallin guides us through the undiscovered country where the bard's spirituality survives in and as unbelief. Godless Shakespeare is beautifully written, well-conceived, and irresistibly funny. I felt as though I were encountering the plays for the first time." - Professor David Riggs, author of The World of Christopher Marlowe (Sanford Lakoff)

"Defying recent Catholic and Protestant claims to Shakespeare's endorsement, and challenging Stephen Greenblatt’s claim that Renaissance atheism was merely a defensive shadow cast by Christianity, Mallin’s wide-ranging book suggests that Shakespeare recognized Christianity as a defense against the burdens of unbelief, which has important values of its own. With its taxonomy of characters into a non-religious ethical hierarchy, Godless Shakespeare jauntily defies the conventional wisdom about a writer who himself typically defied such wisdom." - Professor Robert Watson, UCLA, USA (Sanford Lakoff)

"Where is Shakespeare now? This question is the brief for a new series of short books from Continuum, an enterprising publisher trying to break down the border between academic literary criticism and books for the thoughtful general reader...Eric Mallan's Godless Shakespeare helpfully reminds us that the plays are fundamentally engaged with the art of being human and living in society, not with the different dispensations of the Catholic and Protestant churches." - Jonathan Bate, The Sunday Telegraph (Sanford Lakoff Sunday Telegraph)

-Mention. Daily Telegraph/ April 8, 2007 (Sanford Lakoff)

“The book is both fun and funny; it is often exciting and irreverent. Like Bruster’s and Davis’s books in the same series, it is able to stimulate thinking with a fairly light…touch. Hearing South Park’s Eric Cartman weigh in on the Eucharist in a mostly relevant way was extremely pleasurable.” - Peter G. Platt, Studies in English Literature, Spring 2008 (Sanford Lakoff)

“Mallin offers readings of selected plays, organized, clumsily, by the tripartite structure of Dante’s Comedy, and occasionally intersperses his interpretations with cynical reflections on contemporary Christianity…Mallin accomplishes less than his titles promises. Godless Shakespeare reveals not a Godless Shakespeare, but a Godless Mallin…Mallin’s analysis is also anachronistic. He projects the late modern struggle of fundamentalisms back into the 16th century. ” - Peter J. Leithart, Christianity Today, September/October 2008 (Sanford Lakoff)

“This entire 'mini-graph,’ in fact, is a cheerful map of misreading by a writer resolutely determined to force Shakespeare to share his own atheist views…There is a perfectly sound book to be written about Shakespeare’s changing religious views, from his early Creationism and endorsement of the Great Chain of Being to his reluctantly evolving, horrified sense (stimulated by such conscienceless villains as Iago and Edmund) that there may be nothing transcendent in the universe beyond Nature. But Godless Shakespeare is not that book. In a vain effort to enlist Shakespeare into the legions of contemporary atheists, not to mention his compulsion to say something, anything original about the plays, the author often falls into stylistic contortions and strained anachronisms.” - Robert Brustein, American Theatre, September 2008 (Sanford Lakoff)

Mention –Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance, Tome LXX-2008

"The ambitious project of the Shakespeare NOW series is to bridge the gap between 'scholarly thinking and a public audience’ and 'public audience and scholarly thinking’. Scholars are encouraged to write in a way accessible to a general readership and readers to rise to the challenge and not be afraid of new ideas and the adventure they offer. There are other bridges the series is ambitious to cross: 'formal, political or theoretical boundaries’ – history and philosophy, theory, and performance."
English Vol. 58, 2009


"[Shakespeare Now! is] an innovative new series… Series editors Simon Palfry and Ewan Fernie have rejected the notion of business as usual in order to pursue a distinctive strategy that aims to put "cutting-edge scholarship" in front of a broad audience. Shakespeare Now! with its insistent appeal to the contemporary- this is fresh Shakespeare for readers turned off by the prospect of dry-as-dust scholarship-aims to reach a general audience... Eric S. Mallin's Godless Shakespeare is perhaps the most self-consciously iconoclastic of the group.... [his] work is thoroughly and throughout personal... Mallin's is a courageous and fascinating performance, and there is no question that it grows out of some serious thinking... Godless Shakespeare is a deeply personal essay"
(Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Eric S. Mallin is Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. He is the author of Inscribing the Time: Shakespeare and the End of Elizabethan England (Berkeley: U of California P, 1995)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jerika on July 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
Not sure what the previous reviewer is referring to as "all too typical," but this is not even remotely scholarly research. It's not even an interesting little polemic in its own right. It's a lot of supposition, supported (?) by the very shaky foundational argument that there cannot possibly be a God because bad things happen. But mostly it's a thinly-strung collection of personal anecdotes and rants, summaries of plots and characters from Shakespeare that don't really have anything to do with theology (6 pages on how Katharina chooses/pretends to submit to Petruchio, as some sort of parable for humans' relationship to God?), and excerpts from South Park scripts. Long excerpts.

There could potentially be a good book on how Shakespeare challenges/subverts the traditional concepts of God and organized religion. This isn't it.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey R. Myers on June 13, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rather disappointing. Occasional nugget in a stream of theoretical obscurantism. All too typical, I'm afraid.
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