Cover

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TItle Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv

CONTENTS

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p. v

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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p. vii

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xiii

Postmodernist criticism, by acknowledging the arbitrary quality of language and the diacritical nature of sign or word, has led to the view that all literary works contain insoluble disparities entailing ultimately irreconcilable readings.The existence of such aporia compels us, we are told, to discard the concept of a work’s autonomy. ...

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ONE Sacred and Secular in The Merchant of Venice

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pp. 1-37

The Merchant of Venice contains an extraordinary number of biblical allusions. It repeatedly echoes or cites passages from the Gospels, from Ecclesiasticus, from Corinthians, and from the Old Testament at large. To an Elizabethan audience, familiar with the Bible from regular readings both in church and in the family setting...

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TWO Hamlet and the Stoic

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pp. 39-85

T. S. Eliot disliked Hamlet, describing it disparagingly as “the Mona Lisa of literature.” He claimed that it was an inscrutable work, disquieting because of the impossibility of ever identifying with precision the source of Hamlet’s emotional disturbance. ...

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THREE Spenser and the Pagan Gods

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pp. 87-133

It has become a commonplace of criticism to speak of Edmund Spenser’s syncretism, his skillful merger of classical and scriptural elements in The Faerie Queene, where he is seen as drawing “with equal freedom” on the Bible and the classical poets.1 But that view needs to be considerably modified. ...

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FOUR Volpone, Comedy or Mordant Satire?

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pp. 135-170

The laughter and applause greeting Jonson’s play in its stage performances contrast markedly with its somber evaluations by literary critics. In Jonson’s day, the play was received with delight and was acted frequently through the seventeenth century. ...

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FIVE Donne and the Meditative Tradition

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pp. 171-211

The heady excitement engendered by the Grierson-Eliot revival of interest in metaphysical poetry during the twenties had begun to wane midcentury, when Louis Martz’s The Poetry of Meditation restimulated interest, offering an essentially new tool for evaluating and analyzing the verse. ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 213-217

If the main focus in this study has been upon aporia, the doctrine concerning the final insolubility of the text, that theory was symptomatic of a broader devaluation of interpretive processes. I should like, in conclusion, to examine briefly one further aspect, the model that has been cited repeatedly by the exponents of deconstruction as a means of authorizing their approach. ...

Notes

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pp. 219-239

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 241-248

Index

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pp. 249-258