Thomas Dekker: A Study

Thomas Dekker: A Study

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Thomas Dekker: A Study

Thomas Dekker: A Study

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This study, tentative and incomplete as it is, would have no reason for existence if there had been any previous attempt to give a unified account of Dekker's life and personality, and if much of the criticism of the man and writer had not been distorted by an imperfect chronology or a partial knowledge of the facts. The object, then, has been to collect scattered material, including that furnished by Dekker himself, which has been much neglected, to arrange that material in chronological order, and to arrive at an understanding of the man. If the endeavor to understand has been colored by personal feeling, the reader is entreated to remember that a happy comradeship of three years is bound to leave some trace behind.

My indebtedness to scholars in the field of Elizabethan literature requires a word. The best outline of Dekker's life is to be found in the "Dictionary of National Biography" byA. H. Bullen , which in most respects agrees with that of Fleay. Memoirs of varying value are prefixed to Shepherd's edition of Dekker "Dramatic Works," to Grosart's edition of the "Non- dramatic Works," and to the Mermaid edition of the "Best Plays." The plays are discussed in all extended accounts of the Elizabethan drama, especially by Ward, who implicitly and explicitly ranks them low, and by Schelling in the somewhat scattered fashion required by his scheme. The growing tendency towards appreciation is marked in the "Cambridge History of English Literature" by an admirable article on a portion of Dekker's prose and by a sympathetic account of his life and plays, the latter however not overburdened with facts. Swinburne's essay, with all its need of shading and positive deduction, remains the best comprehensive view of Dekker's writings. Much gratitude is also due to students of special aspects of Dekker's work, notably to Mr. C. H. Herford and Mr. R. A. Small; nor should the names of Mr. E. E. Stoll and Mr. F. E. Pierce be forgotten. Mr. Greg's edition of "Henslowe's Diary," text and commentary, has been very helpful.

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