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P Kishore Saval

The Elizabethan Mind attempts nothing less than a comprehensive summary – within the limits of existing scholarship – of the literary, philosophical, theological, religious, scientific, political, social, emotional, and cosmic contexts for understanding the nature of the mind in the age of Elizabethan England. Insofar as is possible for a cultural history of this kind, the book succeeds. It is an impressive achievement. The prose is not only lucid, but at times positively breezy. And yet, within the confines of its particular approach, The Elizabethan Mind does not betray the complexity of its subject in achieving this lucidity.

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Familiarity may have inured us to Shakespeare’s violence. Poison, suffocation, suicide, rape, and assassination are among the central events of his major plays. But the upper-middle-class respectability of too many Shakespeare performances and the insipid, managerial culture of academic ‘Shakespeare studies’ threaten to reduce the greatest of all dramatists to something antiseptic and safe.

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