Water Memory and the Art of Preserving: Shakespearean Comedy and Early Modern Cultures of Remembrance

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‘Water memory’ was a phrase coined in the late twentieth century to refer to the supposed ability of water to retain a memory of previously dissolved substances even after numerous dilutions. Though now a disproven scientific theory, ‘water memory’ is, as metaphor, a powerful conceptual tool for understanding Shakespeare’s comedies and their engagement with cultures of memory. Plays such as The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, and All’s Well That Ends Well presage later dramas in the canon, including Pericles and The Winter’s Tale, with their narratives of grief, remembrance and preservation. This essay considers these topics in relation to everyday household practices of pickling and preserving foodstuffs and the deeper traces of customary practice and religious rite in post-Reformation England.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Shakespearean Comedy
EditorsHeather Hirschfeld
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780191839610
ISBN (Print)9780198727682
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2018

Publication series

NameOxford Handbooks
PublisherOxford University Press

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