Jonathan Beckman


Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe


Oxford University Press 354pp £30 order from our bookshop

Towards the beginning of Hamlet, Gertrude, in an attempt to encourage her tetchy son to end the ostentatious mourning for his father’s death, gently urges, ‘Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off’. He snaps back: ’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,/Nor customary suits of solemn black … That can denote me truly’. Hamlet was dressed in the traditional colour of mourning – but, as Ulinka Rublack explains in Dressing Up, students in Wittenberg, where Hamlet was enrolled at the university, also dressed entirely in black. As the play unfurls, Hamlet the grieving son, who ought to avenge his father’s murder, is constantly thwarted by Hamlet the thoughtful and sceptical scholar. Though at first glance his uniform denotes him exclusively as a mourner, it expresses a divided personality.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,