How can a person become who he really is by turning his back on everything and everyone in the world? In this talk, Sarah Beckwith discusses how some characters in Shakespeare, especially Timon of Athens, are able to fashion their true identities by dissolving all human bonds and by cursing the world utterly and entirely. Timon is the figure of the world-hating that we all feel from time to time, but he makes misanthropy itself into a way to make himself whole. Is it possible to make great (tragic) drama from such world-denying hatred?
Sarah Beckwith is Katherine Everitt Gilbert Professor of English, Theatre Studies and Religion at Duke University. Her talk is sponsored by the Early Modern Conversions Project, headquartered at McGill University.