Every fortnight on our Shakespeare Now! blog I will be posting up the introduction and a selected chapter from a book in the Shakespeare Now! series to read, for free, online.
This week it is…. At the Bottom of Shakespeare's Ocean by Steve Mentz!
Click on the 'preview' button to the left to read the introduction and first chapter 'Fathoming: The Tempest and King Lear'.
‘Rereading the pays from a maritime perspective connects Shakespeare to our literary culture’s on-going efforts to come to grips with the sea. Shakespeare’s ocean reveals itself through contrast and continuity with the thundering seas of Romantic and post-Romantic literature… Shakespeare portrays an always moving ocean whose full meaning emerge through counterpoint with his literary heirs.
It’s to the bottom of Shakespeare’s ocean that this book takes you, except for one thing: we never get to the bottom. The deep sea’s floor, as unreachable to early modern Europeans as the moon, is a place these plays never reach. When the sea-bed gets invoked, in Clarence’s dream or Hotspur’s fantasy of rescuing “drowned honour” or Prospero’s muddled book, it represents the impossible fantasy of knowing the unknowable, reaching the bottom of a bottomless place.’ – from the introduction to At the Bottom of Shakespeare's Ocean