Renaissance Drama and the Politics of Publication: Readings in the English Book Trade

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Shifting our focus from author to publisher and from first performance to first edition, Zachary Lesser offers a new vantage point on the drama of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster, and their contemporaries. Renaissance Drama and the Politics of Publication re-imagines the reception and meaning of plays by reading them through the eyes of their earliest publishers.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Lesser's book maps out important new directions for Renaissance scholarship.' Forum for Modern English Studies

'This is a book that offers a new direction for the study of early modern playbooks, a way of reading that will be responsive not only to bibliographical evidence but also to the earlier readings that it creates …'.
-The Library

'Lesser's radical approach permits a radical clarity … he casts a dazzling and original light onto the public moment of these plays' birth.'
-Renaissance Quarterly

'Lesser's findings are of considerable importance to publishing history … scholarly and thought-provoking … Through his four absorbing case histories Zachary Lesser offers a study of the highest importance not only to bibliography and the history of the English book trade but also to many other areas of historical, literary, and cultural studies.'
-Review of English Studies

' … most interesting and useful … especially interesting and original [of all those published during the year].… This is a genuinely original approach and yields important new insights into the reception of the plays he considers … Lesser makes a convincing case that attention to publishers can yield important information about how plays were read.'
-Studies in English Literature

'Lesser has written an excellent book … a genuinely new contribution to the field … It will be hard for anyone who has read his book to go on to read an early modern play without paying attention, in a way they are unlikely to have done before, to the identity of its publisher …'
-Renaissance and Reformation

"By making the publisher his agent and the publisher's specialty his backdrop, Lesser creates a new canon of literature for investigation and a new method for recovering early reader response. He also destabilizes many foundational principles of print history and literary criticism--that the author is the source of a text's meaning, that the print industry is a passive if unreliable conduit of meaning, and that the political culture that informs a text is the one in place when the text was composed."
-Shakespeare Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521039994
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 8/18/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Zachary Lesser teaches Shakespeare and early modern drama at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published widely on Renaissance drama and the history of the book in journals such as ELH, English Literary Renaissance, and Shakespeare Quarterly.
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Table of Contents

Introduction : from text to book 1
1 Speculation in the book trade 26
2 The cultural uses of typography in early modern England : Walter Burre's The knight of the burning pestle 52
3 Marlowe's Jew goes to church : Nicholas Vavasour and the creation of Laudian drama 81
4 Insatiate, roaring devils and outlandish cups : Thomas Archer's dialogic publishing in the querelle des femmes 115
5 "Courtier's merchandise" : Thomas Walkley and the paradoxes of domestic policy 157
Epilogue : readings then and now 226
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