Academic journal article Theatre Notebook

Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century

Academic journal article Theatre Notebook

Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century

Article excerpt

Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century

Peter Sabor and Fiona Ritchie (eds.)

Cambridge University Press, 2012

65 [pounds sterling] hb., 468 pp., 17 b/w ill.

ISBN 9780521898607

By the eighteenth century, Shakespeare was popular not only on stage, but in print, music and the visual arts. The sixteen essays collected in this volume aim to uncover "how Shakespeare was available to eighteenth-century society, what he meant to the period, and what opportunities he offered the eighteenth century for self-expression" (1). In the first section this entails an exploration of the editing and publication of Shakespeare (both real and forged) which investigates: the increasing professionalization of Shakespearean scholarship and its indebtedness to the methods of biblical and classical studies; the figure of the genius as it came to be associated with Shakespeare; the ways in which contemporary reviews exemplified the enthusiasm for Shakespeare in the literary marketplace, and, concomitantly, how Vortigern and Double Falsehood could be seen as "creations of th[is] drive for literary monumentalization" (94). In the second section, on literature, Jack Lynch and Thomas Keymer probe the direct and more subtle allusions to Shakespeare found in eighteenth-century poems and novels, while Tiffany Stern illustrates how contemporary playwrights continued the process of Shakespearean 'improvement' initiated by their Restoration predecessors. The implications of this are further examined by the essays in the middle section on the performance practices of the London stages and Shakespearean adaptations, and opera. …

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