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Worldly Shakespeare

The Theatre of Our Good Will

Richard Wilson

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The first study to consider Shakespeare’s plays through the lens of contemporary agonistic political philosophy

In Worldly Shakespeare Richard Wilson proposes that the universalism proclaimed in the name of Shakespeare's playhouse was tempered by his own worldliness, the performative idea that runs through his plays, that if ‘All the world’s a stage’, then ‘all the men and women in it’ are ‘merely players’.

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About the Author

Richard Wilson is Sir Peter Hall Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Kingston University, London, and the author of Free Will: Art and power on Shakespeare’s stage; Shakespeare in French Theory: King of Shadows; Secret Shakespeare: Essays on theatre, religion and resistance; and Will Power: Studies in Shakespearean authority. He was described by the critic A.D, Nuttall as ‘perhaps the most brilliant of the Shakespearean historicists’.


This book is an outstanding piece of Shakespearean scholarship, mastering a staggering amount of dramatic and critical material combined with bold intellectual and speculative powers. Highly relevant to contemporary questions, such as globalization, the ethics of toleration and the philosophy of multicultural societies, Worldly Shakespeare lets the old plays speak anew to present-day readers and thinkers.

- LMU München, Tobias Döring

What I love most about Worldly Shakespeare is its own deep worldliness. Wilson is equally at home with the 'critical violence' of Shakespearean drama, twentieth-century German political theory, and contemporary global crises around religion and terror. Wilson’s philosophical investigations are enlivened with genuine wit, real ardour, and an astounding intimacy with Shakespeare’s plays.

- The University of California, Irvine, Julia Reinhard Lupton

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