Peter Laslett's comment, in The World We Have Lost, that in the early modern period 'every relationship could be seen as a love-relationship' presents the governing idea of this book. In an analysis that includes Shakespeare's sonnets and a wide range of his plays from The Comedy of Errors to The Winter's Tale, David Schalkwyk looks at the ways in which the personal, affective relations of love are informed by the social, structural interactions of service. Showing that service is not a 'class' concept, but rather determined the fundamental conditions of identity across the whole society, the book explores the inter-penetration of structure and affect in relationships as varied as monarch and subject, aristocrat and personal servant, master and slave, husband and wife, and lover and beloved, in the light of differences of rank, gender and sexual identity.

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