'Banished!': the word resounds throughout the Shakespearean canon from The Two Gentlemen of Verona to The Tempest, yet the theme of exile in Shakespeare's plays has been largely neglected. Regardless of Shakespeare's own status as an exile, banishment was a highly visible condition in Early Modern England, enforced by the law against Catholics, gypsies and beggars and threatened against both the theatres and acting companies for which Shakespeare wrote. It was also explicitly theatrical, inspiring the performance of some new identity through the adoption of disguise or a new name, and often shaped by famous literary exiles such as Seneca, Ovid and Petrarch. Indeed, exile was consistently rewritten throughout the Early Modern period as a tragic, even mortal, blow, as a heroic and religious vocation, and as a journey taken for pleasure and profit. Shakespeare dramatizes these transformations in plays such as Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, King Lear and Coriolanus. But perhaps his most obsessive concern, and the main focus of this book, is the possibility of language in exile and the victims' emotional and linguistic response to that word - 'Banished!'

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