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Shakespeare and the Idea of the Book$
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Charlotte Scott

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212101

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212101.001.0001

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‘Marked with a blot, damned in the book of heaven’: Word, Image, and the Reformation of the Self in Richard II

‘Marked with a blot, damned in the book of heaven’: Word, Image, and the Reformation of the Self in Richard II

Chapter:
(p.102) 4 ‘Marked with a blot, damned in the book of heaven’: Word, Image, and the Reformation of the Self in Richard II
Source:
Shakespeare and the Idea of the Book
Author(s):

Charlotte Scott (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212101.003.0004

This chapter examines how William Shakespeare’s Richard II uses the spaces between Catholicism and Protestantism to enable signs to move between literal power and figurative freedom; how visual icons emerge to translate each other into effective dramatic weapons; and how the book, drawing on its status as a representational commodity, becomes the token of a faithless self in transition. The figurative scope generated by the arcane book of heaven, in conjunction with the king’s self-determined iconography, does not necessarily respond to medieval or even Tudor concepts of kingship, but confronts the relationship between presence and essence. Image and word become enmeshed in a shifting religious discourse, as well as theatrical practices of visibility and suggestion. Both the ubiquitous presence of the book and the various devolved icons through which it moves elide our immediate responses to meaning and the sometimes impossible dialectic of truth between word and image.

Keywords:   William Shakespeare, book, metaphors, drama, plays, Richard II, Catholicism, Protestantism, word, image

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