Shakespeare and Elizabethan Poetry: A Study of His Earlier Work in Relation to the Poetry of the Time

Shakespeare and Elizabethan Poetry: A Study of His Earlier Work in Relation to the Poetry of the Time

Shakespeare and Elizabethan Poetry: A Study of His Earlier Work in Relation to the Poetry of the Time

Shakespeare and Elizabethan Poetry: A Study of His Earlier Work in Relation to the Poetry of the Time

Excerpt

In the following pages I have attempted to survey a vast field, which I could not possibly hope to cover, and to touch on a vast number of issues, political, religious and artistic on which I have few qualifications to speak. I have ventured because it seemed that there was an urgent need for something of the old-fashioned Victorian attempt to give a comprehensive account of a great subject, although the growth and growing specialization of modern research means that such a task can be attempted only by the foolhardy. Shakespeare's plays and poems and their relation to the poetry and life of his age is a subject which can claim to interest many who are not literary specialists. I hope that what I have written may give them some picture, however rough and crude, of the general tendency of critical thought on these subjects, and that the specialists may fred enough to annotate, amend or simply to cross out, to repay them for reading a good deal that is familiar, in a more qualified and scholarly form, from the works of others or from their own.

My indebtedness is wide in matters of detail: I have been a constant but I hope neither an unconscious nor an unacknowledging debtor. Some of the writers who have helped me most are those from whom I found myself dissenting. Part of this book was thought out in the nineteen-thirties; some of my conclusions have been reached independently of work published since from which I may seem to borrow. The war years and other duties have intervened; but the work as it now stands was written in the summer of 1949. In places I have endorsed earlier works of my own and in others I have contradicted them, without troubling the reader with references or explanations. Had the times permitted a more leisurely and well-digested study I should have preferred to give more time to the subject, which indeed provides material enough for several re-incarnations; but if a subject cannot be pursued . . .

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