© 2015

Shakespeare’s Extremes

Wild Man, Monster, Beast


Part of the Palgrave Shakespeare Studies book series (PASHST)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Julián Jiménez Heffernan
    Pages 1-55
  3. Julián Jiménez Heffernan
    Pages 56-85
  4. Julián Jiménez Heffernan
    Pages 86-108
  5. Julián Jiménez Heffernan
    Pages 109-150
  6. Julián Jiménez Heffernan
    Pages 151-191
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 192-234

About this book


Shakespeare's Extremes is a controversial intervention in current critical debates on the status of the human in Shakespeare's work. By focusing on three flagrant cases of human exorbitance - Edgar, Caliban and Julius Caesar - this book seeks to limn out the domain of the human proper in Shakespeare.


Shakespeare Marlowe wild man monster beast humanism animal question post-human Badiou Nietzsche Montaigne Cervantes irony heroism villain Julius Caesar The Tempest King Lear early modern drama William Shakespeare

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of CórdobaSpain

About the authors

Julián Jiménez Heffernan is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Córdoba, Spain. His research interests include literary theory, modern fiction, and Renaissance culture. He is the co-editor of Community in Twentieth-Century Fiction and has published articles in journals like Comparative Literature, NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, Textual Practice and Contemporary Literature.

Bibliographic information


"This is a passionately written, original, and thought-provoking study of mythic and embodied extremes in Shakespearean drama. Julius Caesar, Edgar, Caliban, Timon, Hamlet, Coriolanus, and Lucrece are Marlovian heroes who cross the Rubicon of social norms and positive law, becoming both more than man (gods or god-like) and less than man (beasts). Establishing the classical and early modern outposts of the exception, especially in the writings of Lucan, Montaigne, Hobbes, and Erasmus, this compelling and original study models a humanist anti-humanism and a counter-classical classicism that takes shape in the exchanges linking antiquity's darker philosophers to the brutal, taciturn misfits of Shakespeare's tragedies. This book is characterized by a broad, fresh look at Shakespeare and his sources, an exultant sense of philosophical reach, and a refreshingly European orientation towards its material." Julia Reinhard Lupton, author of Thinking with Shakespeare: Essays on Politics and Life

“Hefferman's study is an important and refreshing contribution to the growing body of criticism on Shakespeare's negotiations of the human / animal divide. … Shakespeare's Extremes offers fresh views, particularly on King Lear and Julius Caesar, and reaffirms the critical potential of nuanced textual analysis and theoretical sophistication.” (Kai Wiegandt, Shakespeare Jahrbuch, Vol. 153, 2017)

“I would strongly recommend Heffernan’s book to scholars and (graduate) students of Shakespeare.” (Scott Maisano, Comparative Drama, Vol. 50 (4), 2016)