Was Shakespeare really the original genius he has appeared to be since the eighteenth century, a poet whose words came from nature itself?
The contributors to this volume propose that Shakespeare was not the poet of nature, but rather that he is a genius of rewriting and re-creation, someone able to generate a new language and new ways of seeing the world by orchestrating existing social and literary vocabularies. Each chapter in the volume begins with a key word or phrase from Shakespeare and builds toward a broader consideration of the social, poetic, and theatrical dimensions of his language. The chapters capture well the richness of Shakespeare's world of words by including discussions of biblical language, Latinity, philosophy of language and subjectivity, languages of commerce, criminality, history, and education, the gestural vocabulary of performance, as well as accounts of verbal modality and Shakespeare's metrics. An Afterword outlines a number of other important languages in Shakespeare, including those of law, news, and natural philosophy.