New book brings shadow into the light

July 22, 2016

Ken GrossDaily speech is shot through with metaphors of shade and shadow: a shadow of a doubt, a shadow of a smile, standing in someone’s shadow. A new book, edited by Kenneth Gross, the Alan F. Hilfiker Distinguished Professor of English, traces shadow’s literary history from ancient to modern times.

The chapters of The Substance of Shadow: A Darkening Trope in Poetic History (University of Chicago Press, 2016) are taken from the Clark Lectures in English literature that were delivered at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1999 by the late John Hollander, Sterling Professor of English at Yale and author of more than 30 books of poetry and literary criticism. The lecture series—begun in 1888—has hosted such speakers as T.S. Eliot, E.M. Forster, Toni Morrison, and Tom Stoppard.

Hollander intended to revise his lectures into a book, but died before he could complete the project. Gross, a Renaissance scholar and a former student of Hollander’s, took it up. He is the author of several books, including Shylock Is Shakespeare (University of Chicago Press, 2006) and Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life (University of Chicago Press, 2011).