Humoring the Body: Emotions and the Shakespearean Stage

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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.

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Star Count 3/5
Format Trade
Page Count 290 pages
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Publish Date 2014-Sep-23
ISBN 9780226213828 Buy this Book
Issue March 2015
Category Reference


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