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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 Drawing on a wide range of evidence—including engravings, promptbooks, diaries, statuary, and previously unpublished poems (among them traces of the hitherto mysterious Shakespeare Ladies' Club), it examines how and why Shakespeare was retrospectively claimed as both a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.
|List of Plates|
|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|