On the Literary Genetics of Shakspere's Poems & Sonnets

On the Literary Genetics of Shakspere's Poems & Sonnets

On the Literary Genetics of Shakspere's Poems & Sonnets

On the Literary Genetics of Shakspere's Poems & Sonnets

Excerpt

In supplement to William Shakspere's Small Latine and Lesse Greeke, I had planned originally a volume upon Shakspere and Terence, which has been published as William Shakspere's Five- Act Structure, and another upon Shakspere and Ovid. But when I began to shape the rough form of the latter volume, I found that the center of Ovidian influence was in the poems and sonnets, from which it had penetrated the plays. I decided, therefore, to narrow the work to the poems and sonnets as the primary nucleus, and to observe Shakspere's literary craftsmanship as he shaped these in the contemporary Ovidian style, according to the universal methods of his day. In the phraseology of the sixteenth century, I have examined the analysis and synthesis or genesis of these works; hence the term "Literary Genetics" in the title.

From this point of view, I have attempted to discover and to present the evidence, the whole evidence, and nothing but the evidence. And in giving the whole evidence ordinary ideas of proportion, interest, etc., have no place; it is frequently some minute point which has clinching evidential value. I have, therefore, attempted to present the pertinent evidence as clearly and as completely as possible, without "literary" fanfare or hindrance.

I take it also that the reader will want the evidence summed up in one place. I have, therefore, repeated any incidental items from my previous work which are fundamental to the argument of this. There is an actual necessity for this procedure in these days of dollar-shortage for scholars both at home and abroad. The scholar may manage to procure access to one volume; he is fortunate indeed if he does not have difficulty with a set or a small library. If the reader is already familiar with a quoted passage, I trust he will skip it and be not offended by my good intention.

Because of the fundamental point of view for this work, perhaps a few matters need to be emphasized concerning the sonnets. Under the silver rake of Malone the muck of the sonnets began to show a pattern; Edward Dowden gathered indications of relationship more or less systematically, and in a way I have merely continued his work. Tucker Brooke of revered memory also used the basic relations established by Dowden to make a rearrangement of the . . .

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