Texts and Traditions explores Shakespeare's thoroughgoing engagement with the religious culture of his time. In the wake of the recent resurgence of interest in Shakespeare's Catholicism, Groves eschews a reductively biographical approach and considers instead the ways in which Shakespeare's borrowing from both the visual culture of Catholicism and the linguistic wealth of the Protestant English Bible enriched his drama. Through close readings of a number of plays - Romeo and Juliet, King John, 1 Henry IV, Henry V ,and Measure for Measure - Groves unearths and explains previously unrecognised allusions to the Bible, the Church's liturgy, and to the mystery plays performed in England in Shakespeare's boyhood. Texts and Traditions provides new evidence of the way in which Shakespeare exploited his audience's cultural memory and biblical knowledge in order to enrich his ostensibly secular drama and argues that we need to unravel the interpretative possibilities of these religious nuances in order fully to grasp the implications of his plays.
Beatrice Groves is the Junior Research Fellow in Humanities at Wolfson College, Oxford.