Shakespeare and Impure Aesthetics explores ideas about art implicit in Shakespeare's plays and defines specific Shakespearean aesthetic practices in his use of desire, death and mourning as resources for art. Hugh Grady draws on a tradition of aesthetic theorists who understand art as always formed in a specific historical moment but as also distanced from its context through its form and Utopian projections. Grady sees A Midsummer Night's Dream, Timon of Athens, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet as displaying these qualities, showing aesthetic theory's usefulness for close readings of the plays. The book argues that such social-minded 'impure aesthetics' can revitalize the political impulses of the new historicism while opening up a new aesthetic dimension in the current discussion of Shakespeare.

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