The Counterlife

So, as if it weren’t bad enough that I’ve discovered I’ve been laboring in the devil’s service for much of the decade, it turns out that what I should have been doing hasn’t waited for me to do it, but got itself done by somebody else.

A few years ago, I had an idea for a book about Shakespeare and the Hebrew Bible. It was intended to be a work of amateur scholarship – not so much an attempt to demonstrate concrete influences on Shakespeare from the Hebrew Bible as to use different biblical texts to “read” Shakespeare, and vice versa. The plan of the book was to be as follows:

Chapter 1: Introduction: The Folio of This World: Biblical Readings of Shakespeare, Shakespearean Readings of the Hebrew Bible

Chapter 2: Wise Children: King Solomon and King Henry V

Chapter 3: Isaac’s Ashes and the Poor Fool Hanged: The Unassimilability of the Akeda and King Lear

Chapter 4: Dark Corners and Hidden Faces: Providence in The Book of Esther and Measure For Measure

Chapter 5: Stubborn Faith: Shylock, Jonah and the Quality of Mercy

Chapter 6: A Late Divorce: Hosea and The Winter’s Tale

Well, I’ve noodled about with the idea now and again, but never done the proper research to really write the blasted thing. Then, a few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Steven Marx’s book, Shakespeare and the Bible, thinking it might be useful research. Here’s the table of contents:

Chapter 1: Introduction: ‘Kiss the Book’

Chapter 2: Posterity and Prosperity: Genesis in The Tempest

Chapter 3: Historical Types: Moses, David, and Henry V

Chapter 4: ‘Within a Foot of the Extreme Verge’: The Book of Job and King Lear

Chapter 5: True Lies and False Truths: Measure for Measure and the Gospel

Chapter 6: ‘Dangerous Conceits’ and ‘Proofs of Holy Writ’: Allusion in The Merchant of Venice and Paul’s Letter to the Romans

Chapter 7: The Masque of Revelation: The Tempest as Apocalypse

No, it’s not the book I was planning to write. But still.