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Shakeshafte and Other Plays Paperback – 7 Dec. 2021

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Gathered together for the first time, these three plays by Rowan Williams-known throughout the world not only as a religious leader and theologian but also as a poet and critic-explore the inner life of words and images.

Shakeshafte imagines an encounter between a young sixteenth century Englishman with a faintly familiar surname and an undercover Jesuit missionary. Two visions of how words change the world collide and converge and slip away again.

 The Flat Roof of the World introduces us to the ageing and troubled artist and poet, David Jones, haunted by his experience of both war and love, struggling to hold together a world of insight and connectedness that is being torn apart by modernity-and by his own fragmented and traumatic history.

 Lazarus is a vivid meditation on what it means for a word literally to give life.

 Dramatically and verbally intense, these plays memorably open up the space where faith and imagination speak to each other.

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  • Shakeshafte and Other Plays
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  • Collected Poems
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Product description


Here is poetic prose at its finest.... The issues at stake-faith and doubt, choice and exclusion, open listening, and finally, decision and commitment-all seem contemporary and prophetically resonant.... Williams the poet and Williams the theologian have met and become something more than themselves in Williams the playwright.

-Malcolm Guite, author of Sounding the Seasons

In Shakeshafte & Other Plays, Rowan Williams is asking big questions, offering some provisional answers about how we live and love and believe. But he is also demonstrating the power of beauty to transform us.

-Greg Garrett, author of Free Bird

As a dramatist, Rowan Williams asks: what is our vocation, and how might we reach and articulate our inner life? These plays invite us to listen-to the harmonies and disharmonies we all find within us.

-Paul Edmondson, Head of Research, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Here are three remarkably playable new plays by Dr. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. Though they are set in different periods, they all contain vivid characters and witty dialogue, with significant theological issues at stake.

-Jeanne Murray Walker, author of Helping the Morning: New and Selected Poems

What a treat! Williams makes the stage an arena where he wrestles with the biggest ideas and makes them speak-and sing-our language. An absolute original and a joy.

-Frank Cottrell Boyce, author of Millions

In evocative and lyrical language, this sequence of three short plays explores a series of "what if" conversations that foreground the process of weaving connections and finding meanings through layers of language, listening and imagination.

-Kathleen Henderson Staudt, author of At the Turn of a Civilization: David Jones and Modern Poetics

About the Author

Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, recently retired as Master of Magdalene College, University of Cambridge. Among his recent books are The Edge of Words, The Tragic Imagination, Christ the Heart of Creation, and Looking East in Winter. His collected poems will soon be published by Carcanet Press.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Slant Books (7 Dec. 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 156 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1639821023
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1639821020
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 13.97 x 0.91 x 21.59 cm
  • Customer reviews:
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