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Male Friendship in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries
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 (ISBN-13: 9780511282478)

Renaissance Humanism developed a fantasy of friendship in which men can be absolutely equal to one another, but Shakespeare and other dramatists quickly saw through this rhetoric and developed their own ideas about friendship more firmly based on a respect for human difference. They created a series of brilliant and varied fictions for human connection, as often antagonistic as sympathetic, using these as a means for individuals to assert themselves in the face of social domination. Whilst the fantasy of equal and permanent friendship shaped their thinking, dramatists used friendship most effectively as a way of shaping individuality and its limitations. Dealing with a wide range of Shakespeare's plays and poems, and with many works of his contemporaries, this study gives readers a deeper insight into a crucial aspect of Shakespeare's culture and his use of it in art.

• Examines a wide range of Shakespeare's works, including the Sonnets, and works of his contemporaries • Shows how friendship operates in a variety of contexts, such as family, service, politics and romantic love • Demonstrates the importance of the relatively neglected topic of friendship in Renaissance drama


1. True friends?; 2. Momentary mutuality in Shakespeare's Sonnets; 3. Friends and brothers; 4. Love and friendship; 5. Servants; 6. Political friendship; 7. Fellowship; 8. False friendship and betrayal; Conclusion: 'Time must friend or end'; Bibliography.


Review of the hardback: '… Male Friendship will be of great interest to Shakespeareans and scholars of early modern English drama. The readings, which are perceptive and finely developed, range across William Shakespeare's works … innovative and suggestive …' Graham Hammill, University at Buffalo

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