Educating Prospero: Misappropriating the Author(ity) of Books in The Tempest
The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
This paper addresses the problematic function of books in The Tempest. It begins with a brief discussion of the character of Prospero, tracing the shifting critical attitudes to this complex character in ‘colonial era’ and ‘post-colonial’ readings of The Tempest. Prospero’s inconsistencies, and those of other characters in the play, are deemed in part to be the result of their reading: the literary currency of their (ancient and contemporary, ‘local’ and globalising) Mediterranean world. Similarly, it is argued, the contents of Prospero’s books – the ideologies informing them and informed by them – have been used to justify and perpetuate the process of colonisation. By contrast, Shakespeare’s play-world (considering the wider Renaissance context of the play’s composition) is seen to offer a critique of the printed word; his treatment of ‘book history’ in The Tempest in fact suggests the need for a reappraisal of the reception and dissemination of Shakespeare-as-author(ity).
Middle Ages -- Periodicals. , Renaissance -- Periodicals. , Middle Ages. , Renaissance.