GEORGE GORDON'S work on Shakespeare began soon after he became a Fellow of Magdalen in 1907, with an edition of selected plays for school use, and the poet was thereafter the frequent subject of his discourse, as Professor of English Literature at Leeds ( 1913-22) and Merton Professor of English at Oxford ( 1922-8), in lectures given during a visit to Norway and Sweden ( 1924) and at the Royal Institution ( 1925-6), as Clark Lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge ( 1934), and finally as Professor of Poetry at Oxford ( 1935-8).
Himself a humorist, he was perhaps happiest in dealing with the Comedies. His treatment of these was constantly revised, and brought ultimately to a high state of lucidity and finish. The present selection is intended to give him at his ripest. The lectures on 'What is Comedy?' and 'Shakespeare's Answer' represent a careful rewriting for Oxford on topics already handled at Cambridge. From the Clark lectures themselves are taken the passages on 'The Dislike of Comedy', 'Shakespeare the Englishman', 'Shakespeare's Periods', 'The World of the Comedies', 'Shakespeare's Women', and 'Shakespeare's Clowns'. The lecture on King Lear was given at Oxford in 1937. On the Othello and on the revision of his early introduction to The Tempest, Gordon was working, almost up to the time of his death on 12 March 1942. The essay on 'Shakespeare's English', based on a lecture at the Royal Institution, was originally published ( 1928) by the Society for Pure English. This, too, was a subject constantly in Gordon's mind from an early date. He was still making collections on it in 1938.
I am responsible for the arrangement and editing of the