The English Chronicle Play: A Study in the Popular Historical Literature Environing Shakespeare

The English Chronicle Play: A Study in the Popular Historical Literature Environing Shakespeare

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The English Chronicle Play: A Study in the Popular Historical Literature Environing Shakespeare

The English Chronicle Play: A Study in the Popular Historical Literature Environing Shakespeare

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Excerpt

In the following pages an attempt has been made to tell the history of one of the many and various strands which, twisted and interwoven, form the brilliant and heterogeneous Elizabethan Drama. There is always a danger in thus seeking to separate what in reality is part of an integral whole; for not only was the English Chronicle Play deeply influenced by the wealth of literature in other forms which dealt with the general subject of English history, but it influenced and was in turn affected by many other varieties of drama that flourished simultaneously with it. None the less the Chronicle Play can be treated independently with greater justice than any other form of the drama; for whatever the superficial influences upon it, it retained from first to last a character essentially national and English.

The most potent influences on the English drama when Marlowe, Shakespeare and Fletcher held the stage were the spirit of culture which centered in the court and emanated from Italy, and the spirit of learning, the seats of which were appropriately the Universities and the Inns of Court. The spirit of Italian culture was earliest typified in the drama by the court plays of Lyly the Euphuist, and later combined with . . .

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