Hamlet in Purgatory

Hamlet in Purgatory

Paperback - 2013
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This book delves into the author's longtime fascination with the ghost of Hamlet's father, and his daring and ultimately gratifying journey takes him through surprising intellectual territory. It yields an extraordinary account of the rise and fall of Purgatory as both a belief and a lucrative institution as well as a capacious new reading of the power of Hamlet. In the mid-sixteenth century, English authorities abruptly changed the relationship between the living and dead. Declaring that Purgatory was a false poem, they abolished the institutions and banned the practices that Christians relied on to ease the passage to Heaven for themselves and their dead loved ones. Greenblatt explores the fantastic adventure narratives, ghost stories, pilgrimages, and imagery by which a belief in a grisly prison house of souls had been shaped and reinforced in the Middle Ages. He probes the psychological benefits as well as the high costs of this belief and of its demolition.
Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2013
Edition: First Princeton classics edition
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780691160245
Branch Call Number: PR2807 .G69 2013
Characteristics: xv, 322 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm


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Mar 12, 2016

A scholarly look at the remnants of a Catholic purgatory hiding under the surface of Shakespeare's Protestant play "Hamlet." The first three-quarters of the book deals with establishing the historical notion of a Catholic purgatory in the mind and imagination of Protestant England and how the English read St. Patrick's Purgatory as a poetic construct rather than a lie and its functions to both society and its believers. Dr. Greenblatt's erudite reading of pertinent books, pamphlets and ghost stories of that period informs his arguments and essays.


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