The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship, 1660-1769

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Overview


The century between the Restoration and David Garrick's Stratford Jubilee saw William Shakespeare's promotion from the status of archaic, rustic playwright to that of England's timeless Bard, and with it the complete transformation of the ways in which his plays were staged, published, and read. But why Shakespeare? and what different interests did this process serve? The Making of the National Poet is the first full-length study since the 1920s of the Restoration and eighteenth century's revisions and revaluations of Shakespeare, and the first to consider the period's much-reviled stage adaptations in the context of the profound cultural changes in which they participate. Drawing on a wide range of evidence--including engravings, promptbooks, diaries, statuary, and previously unpublished poems (among them traces of the hitherto mysterious Shakespeare Ladies' Club), it examines how and why Shakespeare was retrospectively claimed as both a respectable Enlightenment author and a crucial and contested symbol of British national identity. It shows in particular how the deification of Shakespeare co-existed with and even demanded the drastic and sometimes bizarre rewriting of his plays for which the period is notorious. Through engaging and informative analysis, Dobson's book provides the definitive account of the theatre's role in establishing Shakespeare as Britain's National Poet.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Seminal....For persons interested in how Shakespeare became the national poet, this volume is 'must' reading....Required for British intellectual history, Shakespearean criticism, and drama collections generally."--Choice

"Exceptionally sophisticated, exceptionally learned, exceptionally witty--not only about Shakespeare, but about British cultural history in the century after the Restoration and about the whole machinery by which major artistic reputations are established. It contains, among much else, the best account yet written of the politics of theatrical adaptations of Shakepeare's plays."--Gary Taylor, Brandeis University

"Essential...for all Shakespeare libraries and serious scholars."--Bibliotheque D'Humanisme Et Renaissance

"Michael Dobson has boldly gone where no man has gone-for a long, long time....A bravura performance that should entertain and inform all Shakespeareans..."--Shakespeare Quarterly processes

"The Enlightenment dies hard, but Dobson is to be thanked for so adroitly and cleverly ushering it along."--Modern Language Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198183235
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/28/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Plates
Introduction 1
1 Romance and Revision 17
2 Politics and Pity 62
3 Property and Propriety 99
4 Embodying the Author 134
5 Nationalizing the Corpus 185
Conclusion 223
Bibliography 233
Index 253
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