Shakespeare's Noise

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 282 pages
"You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate / As reek o'th'rotten fens, whose loves I prize / As the dead carcasses of unburied men / That do corrupt my air: I banish you!" (from Coriolanus)

Kenneth Gross explores Shakespeare's deep fascination with dangerous and disorderly forms of speaking—especially rumor, slander, insult, vituperation, and curse—and through them offers a vision of the work of words in his plays. Coriolanus's taunts or Lear's curses force us to think not just about how Shakespeare's characters speak, but also about how they hear, overhear, and mishear what is spoken, how rumor becomes tragic knowledge for Hamlet, or opens Othello to fantastic jealousies. Gross also shows how Shakespeare's preoccupation with "noisy" speech echoed and transformed a broader cultural obsession with the perils of rumor, slander, and libel in Renaissance England.

Elegantly written and passionately argued, Shakespeare's Noise will challenge and delight anyone who loves his plays, from scholars to general readers, actors, and directors.

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Contents

The Rumor of Hamlet
10
The Book of the Slanderer
33
A Disturbance of Hearing in Vienna
68
Denigration and Hallucination in Othello
102
War Noise
131
King Lear and the Register of Curse
161
An Imaginary Theater
193
Notes
209
Index
275
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Kenneth Gross is a professor of English at the University of Rochester. He is the author of Spenserian Poetics: Idolatry, Iconoclasm, and Magic and The Dream of the Moving Statue.

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