Rhodri Lewis and Leonard Barkan will discuss Lewis’s radical new interpretation of the most famous play in the English language. By exploring Shakespeare’s engagements with the humanist traditions of early modern England and Europe, Lewis reveals a Hamlet unseen for centuries: an innovative, coherent, and exhilaratingly bleak tragedy in which the governing ideologies of Shakespeare’s age are scrupulously upended. Please join us.
Hamlet and the Vision of Darkness establishes that life in Elsinore is measured not by virtue but by the deceptions and grim brutality of the hunt. It also shows that Shakespeare most vividly represents this reality in the character of Hamlet: his habits of thought and speech depend on the cultures of pretence that he affects to disdain, ensuring his alienation from both himself and the world around him. Lewis recovers a work of far greater magnitude than the tragedy of a young man who cannot make up his mind. He shows that in Hamlet, as in King Lear, Shakespeare confronts his audiences with a universe that received ideas are powerless to illuminate—and where everyone must find their own way through the dark.
Rhodri Lewis is lecturer with rank of professor of English at Princeton University. He is the author of Language, Mind and Nature: Artificial Languages in England from Bacon to Locke and William Petty on the Order of Nature. Leonard Barkan is Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University. His many acclaimed books include Unearthing the Past: Archaeology and Aesthetics in the Making of Renaissance Culture; Michelangelo: A Life on Paper; Mute Poetry, Speaking Pictures and Berlin for Jews: A Twenty-First Century Companion.