Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage
At this point, you might think there’s nothing more to be said, nothing more to be explored, in the oeuvre of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. After hundreds, if not thousands, of books analyzing their works down to the punctuation marks, who could put a new spin on these classics?
Well, Gail Kern Paster is ready to upend much of that scholarship with Humoring the Body. Paster argues that valuable, nay, crucial context is lost by disregarding the mind-body connection of the four humors as a commonly accepted medical fact of then-contemporary life. Analyzing numerous excerpts of text from Shakespeare and other writers through the lens of the four humors—as well as associated references to the four elements and the four winds—Paster brings curious new insight into works you thought you already knew. Although some sections, in particular the introduction, are overwritten and verbose to the point of near incomprehensibility—bring a dictionary—once the author settles into the arguments, especially in chapters two and three, she presents a convincing and effective argument.
Humoring the Body is an eye-opening glimpse into how a different way of thinking could better connect modern readers with the masterworks of the past.
Gail Kern Paster
University of Chicago Press