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Greene, G. Barker and I. Kamps Eds. London, New York: Verso. Harris, J. Untimely Matter in the Time of Shakespeare. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Hartley, J. Leuven: Leuven University Press. Hawkes, T.
London: Methuen. Heilman, R. Magic in the Web: Action and Language in Othello. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. Hurwitz, G. Jordan, C. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Jr, H. Leggatt, A.
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Episode 38: Shakespeare
Qabbanni, N. Kegan Paul: Routledge. Rose, M. FN2 Their text departs in an important way from the quarto of in which the poem was first published. In line 9, where Evans, Vendler, and others have "looks," the quarto has "books. Sewell has found countless followers in the course of the last three centuries. By the early twentieth century, "looks," as one editor had it, was "an almost certain emendation," and another editor, twenty years later, thought that "looks" was "entirely necessary.
FN5 Some have argued that books can hardly be "presagers of [someone's] speaking breast," but Colin Burrow rightly points out that "The word is a new one in the s, and Shakespeare seems to be using it as a near synonym for 'ambassador,' lather than exploiting its associations with understanding of the future. Yet even when editors realize how important the word "book" is in establishing one of the sonnet's central oppositions and thus do not emend "books" to "looks," their annotation at times seems tendentious.
Since both narrative poems are dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, the so-called Southamptonites -- who argue that the famous "Mr. Others have maintained that "books," which could refer to any kind of text on paper, even to a single handwritten sheet, in fact refers to the sonnets themselves.
Stephen Booth is the only exception of which I am aware, pointing out that " Shakespeare may intend a play on 'book' meaning the written text of a stage play. To discount this possibility fails to register a simple but powerful analogy established by the sonnet. If we take seriously recent arguments about the dating of the sonnets, FN9 then we realize that many of the sonnets addressed to the young man may have been written or revised around the middle of the first decade of the seventeenth century, a time in which a good number of Shakespeare 's playbooks had been published.
It seems clear that the editorial history of Shakespeare 's Sonnet 23 has much to do with the traditional resistance to the view that William Shakespeare wanted his dramatic productions to be read and was aware of the eloquence of his printed playbooks. I have sketched elsewhere what seems to have sustained this resistance for so long, namely, the interaction of four misassumptions that, by mutually reinforcing each other, contributed to keeping each other in place:.
It is easy to see how these misassumptions supported each other: the ephemeral nature of playbooks allegedly explained why Shakespeare was indifferent to their publication. The supposition that Shakespeare only wrote for the stage meant that even Shakespeare 's longest plays were thought to have been designed for performance in their entirety. And the idea that these long play texts were performed meant that shorter versions of the same plays had to reflect something different and inferior.
This mechanism of mutual reinforcement may well be an important reason why belief in Shakespeare 's indifference to his literary reputation, his authorial standing, and his works' survival long remained in place. The present forum in the pages of Shakespeare Studies is one among a number of signs testifying to the fact that our view of Shakespearean authorship has recently received an overdue revaluation.
Several publications since the turn of the century have made plausible a Shakespeare who cared about his standing as published dramatic author. In a monograph of , James Bednarz sees the Shakespeare who was involved in the poets' war around the turn of the century as self-consciously literary, aware of his authorial standing, competitive. FN11 Even slightly earlier, Richard Dutton was arguing that "in writing plays which were in some respects unplayahle I suggest instead that Shakespeare was acutely aware of and cared about his rise to prominence as a print-published dramatic author, that he and his fellow actors of the Lord Chamberlain's Men had a policy of having his plays published, and that he anticipated and catered to a readership for his plays.
Shakespeare Studies - Vol. 38
Shakespeare 's long play texts, I argue, thus give us access to literary versions of his plays that would have been significantly abridged -- to something like the length of short quartos such as Ql Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet -- before reaching the stage. Scholarship published since may suggest that the time was right for the view presented in Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist. In his British Academy Shakespeare Lecture of , Henry Woudhuysen -- one of the general editors of the Arden Shakespeare -- holds that printed playbooks were not the "ephemeral items" they have often been taken to be.
FN14 He argues instead that " Shakespeare must have been aware that his plays had reached print, and this may have influenced the ways in which he wrote," adding that "It is possible to argue, on textual as well as aesthetic or historical grounds, that distinct authorial versions of [ Shakespeare 's] plays were produced for reading rather than performance. Jackson published in , "Francis Meres and the Cultural Contexts of Shakespeare 's Rival Poet Sonnets," which establishes a wealth of telling connections between Meres's "Comparative Discourse" in Palladis Tamia and the Rival Poet sonnets , for which recent research strongly suggests a composition date of ca.
FN16 Meres compares English and ancient writers, singling out for repeated praise a number of contemporary or recent English authors, including Shakespeare whose name, it may be well to recall, had not appeared on a single title page prior to Jackson convincingly demonstrates that " Shakespeare read Meres's 'Comparative Discourse' attentively" and argues that "[t]he Rival Poet sonnets originated Two recent monographs by Patrick Cheney, Shakespeare , National Poet-Playwright and Shakespeare 's Literary Authorship , lend further support to this view by demonstrating how the works themselves are preoccupied with an inscription of Shakespearean authorship.
FN18 Of further significance is The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare 's Poetry, for which Cheney served as editor, in which several contributions pay attention not only to the freestanding poems but also to the poetry in the plays.