By David Scott Kastan
'A Will to think' is a revised model of Kastan's 2008 'Oxford Wells Shakespeare Lectures', supplying a provocative account of the ways that faith animates Shakespeare's plays.
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'A Will to think' is a revised model of Kastan's 2008 'Oxford Wells Shakespeare Lectures', delivering a provocative account of the ways that faith animates Shakespeare's performs. summary: A Will to think is a revised model of Kastan's 2008 Oxford Wells Shakespeare Lectures, delivering a provocative account of the ways that faith animates Shakespeare's performs.
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Extra info for A Will to Believe: Shakespeare and Religion
52 Even when we think we have a window into Shakespeare’s soul it turns out still we only see through a glass darkly. Perhaps the will does show that Shakespeare died a Protestant; the conventionality of the phrasing says nothing one way or the other about whether he believed in what it asserted. 53 Perhaps the will’s unusual silence on funeral arrangements, with nothing more speciﬁc than commending his body to the earth, suggests his alienation from the parish church where he would be buried.
We could go on speculating. But even if it is real—that is, even if it is the Spiritual Testament subscribed to by John Shakespeare, William’s father—one might reasonably wonder why it was in the roof. Those who defend its authenticity usually insist it was hidden there because John wanted to be sure that it would not be found by Protestant authorities in hot pursuit of recusant Catholics. 41 If the formularies were indeed intended, in Alexandra Walsham’s phrase, as “an act of deﬁance, an assertion of identity, and a self-consciously pious gesture,”42 its presence in the roof might, then, actually be evidence against it having confessional signiﬁcance for John Shakespeare.
Certainly Shakespeare grew up in a world in which the traditional religion still must have exerted some theological and affective claims on the community in which he lived, and yet he would have had little, if any, experience of Catholic forms of worship. 45 Perhaps it is true, as the Anglican divine Richard Davies noted, that Shakespeare “dyed a Papist,”46 but there is no ﬁrm evidence that he ever lived as one. Some scholars have sought that evidence in the 1581 will of Alexander Hoghton, a Catholic living near Preston in Lancashire.