Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist
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Now in a new edition, Lukas Erne's groundbreaking study argues that Shakespeare, apart from being a playwright who wrote theatrical texts for the stage, was also a literary dramatist who produced reading texts for the page. Examining the evidence from early published playbooks, Erne argues that Shakespeare wrote many of his plays with a readership in mind and that these "literary" texts would have been abridged for the stage because they were too long for performance. The variant early texts of Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, and Hamlet are shown to reveal important insights into the different media for which Shakespeare designed his plays. This revised and updated edition includes a new and substantial preface that reviews and intervenes in the controversy the study has triggered and lists reviews, articles, and books which respond to or build on the first edition.
Shakespeare and the Book Trade revisits some areas examined in Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist, although usually from a different angle. In the process, it engages with some of the scholarship that criticizes or builds on Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist, as when studying the paratextual constitution of Shakespeare’s playbooks. Shakespeare’s name made its appearance on title pages with unusual suddenness in 1598 and thereafter appears with unrivalled frequency. Moreover, as Alan Farmer has
Stationers’ Register in February 1603. That “Chettle implies . . . that ‘divers of worship’ have access to written texts” by Shakespeare at a time when none of his plays had appeared in print depends on the questionable belief that Chettle’s apology in Kind-Hartes Dreame was to Shakespeare.2 Dutton further thinks that manuscript circulation “would help to explain just how so many quartos based on ‘foul papers’ . . . found their way into print.”3 A more economic explanation, as I have argued
that are likely to have contributed to Shakespeare’s attitude toward the existence of his plays not only on stage but also on the page. One of the purposes of the present chapter is to refine and supplement some of the earlier work upon which it builds. Jeffrey Masten, in particular, has provided an incisive treatment of how dramatic authorship was negotiated, produced, and contested in Renaissance drama.15 Yet, it seems to me that Masten and others underestimate the extent to which the process
potential customer with a picture of the star actor(s) or actress(es) on the front cover. Comparing the repertory systems in Elizabethan theater and Hollywood cinema, G. K. Hunter writes that “The Elizabethan system, like the Hollywood one, put [the writers] at the bottom of the pile.”31 The auteur theory in the fifties and early sixties promoted by François Truffaut and others further accentuated the view that it was the director, not the writer, who was the author of a film.32 If screenplays
material for the page. The idea of some performance critics that playtexts are scripts that are solely designed for, or even reflect, performance would have seemed wholly strange to him. The passages that were “greatly gaped at” are precisely omitted in print. While Marotti, analyzing the passage from manuscript to printed poetry, has identified a “recoding of social verse as primarily literary texts in the print medium,” Jones’s preface announces a first recoding of a playtext as a primarily