The Crown of Life: Essays in Interpretation of Shakespeare's Final Plays

The Crown of Life: Essays in Interpretation of Shakespeare's Final Plays

The Crown of Life: Essays in Interpretation of Shakespeare's Final Plays

The Crown of Life: Essays in Interpretation of Shakespeare's Final Plays

Excerpt

This book is the culmination of twenty years' work on Shakespeare. It therefore seems fitting to reprint, as its introduction, my first published statement--apart from articles --Myth and Miracle (E. J. Burrow & Co., 1929). This essay was originally composed as a brief outline of a thesis which I regarded as my main contribution to Shakespearian studies, and for which I had for some time been trying to gain recognition in expanded form; though, having published it, I have remained, hitherto, content to let it stand alone. The decision has probably been justified, since the considered analyses here offered have the advantage of incorporating discoveries from interim studies; especially The Shakespearian Tempest, The Olive and the Sword and The Starlit Dome. Those two binding principles of Shakespearian unity, the tempest-music opposition and Elizabethan nationalism, are vital to any full appreciation of Shakespeare's last, and perhaps supreme, phase; so, too, is the study of the romantic poets.

These essays were roughed out in the summer of 1944 and revised during the following winter. After completing them, I looked through much of the work done on Shakespeare during recent years in this country, most of which I had read as it appeared, in case any important points of contact should seem to demand explicit reference; though few seemed, on consideration, to do so. Rumours of recent advances in the United States of America on lines similar to those of my own studies I have tried, without success, to follow up by inspection of the books concerned: when conditions become again normal, it is to be hoped that they will find their way to British libraries. But, though my references to other workers are few, I am gratefully aware that my investigations have not been solitary, nor neglected. We have watched a change come over Shakespearian studies during the last two decades, to which my attempts from Myth and Miracle onwards may, I like to think, have contributed, perhaps originated, something; though it will probably be wiser to consider such supposed origins as themselves symptoms rather than causes of a given . . .

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