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GENERAL PLAN OF THE SERIES.

This Series is primarily designed to aid the University Extension Movement throughout Great Britain and America, and to supply the need so widely felt by students, of Text-books for study and reference, in connexion with the authorized Courses of Lectures.

Volumes dealing with separate sections of Literature, Science, Philosophy, History, and Art have been assigned to representative literary men, to University Professors, or to Extension Lecturers connected with Oxford, Cambridge, London, and the Universities of Scotland and Ireland.

The Manuals are not intended for purposes of Elementary Education, but for students who have made some advance in the subjects dealt with. The statement of details is meant to illustrate the working of general laws, and the development of principles ; while the historical evolution of the subject dealt with is kept in view, along with its philosophical significance.

The remarkable success which has attended University Extension in Britain has been partly due to the combination of scientific treatment with popularity, and to the union of simplicity with thoroughness

This movement, however, can only reach those resident in the larger centres of population, while all over the country there are thoughtful persons who desire the same kind of teaching. It is for them also that this Series is designed. Its aim is to supply the general reader with the same kind of teaching as is given in the Lectures, and to reflect the spirit which has characterized the movement, viz. the combination of principles with facts, and of methods with results,

The Manuals are also intended to be contributions to the Literature of the Subjects with which they respectively deal, quite apart from University Extension ; and some of them will be found to meet a general rather than a special want.

Shakspere

and his

Predecessors

By FREDERICK S. BOAS, M.A.

FORMERLY EXHIBITIONER OF BALLIOL COLLEGE, OXFORD

LONDON

JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET

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Undergraduate

Library

TR, TO BUHR

4/1/a6

PREFACE

In spite of the ever-increasing mass of Shaksperean literature, there is, so far as I am aware, no English work dealing in some detail with all the dramatist's writings in their approximate chronological order. The present volume is an attempt in this direction. Professor Dowden's fine study of Shakspere's Mind and Art, to which my debt is manifest, is, by virtue of its scope, most intimately concerned with the historical plays and the tragedies, and especially with those elements in them which help to reveal the personality of their author. What I have here aimed at is to discuss Shakspere's works in relation to their sources, to throw light on their technique and general import, and to bring out some of their points of contact with the literature of their own and earlier times. Hence in the opening chapters I have sketched the rise of the English drama, and have briefly indicated Shakspere's bond of kinship, not only with his immediate predecessors, but with the mediaeval playwrights. And throughout the volume I have given greater prominence than has, I think, been usual to those features in his works which link them to the preRenaissance period. But, as is always the case with consummate genius, Shakspere looks before' as well as after,' and in discussing such plays as Measure for Measure and Antony and Cleopatra, I have sought to interpret the dramatist's attitude towards some problems which are often supposed to be distinctively modern.

My obligations to previous writers are so fully acknowledged in my text and notes, that here I need merely say that I am indebted to the main body of English and continental critics, as well as to the publications of the New Shakspere Society and the German Shakspere Society's Fahrbücher. The writer whose critical method has specially influenced me is Kreyssig. But in some important matters I have not been able to accept his conclusions, and indeed on all points of controversy, I have sought to give an independent judgement, rather than to reproduce the dicta of others, however illustrious. I should add that in my references I have adopted the uniform spelling, 'Shakspere.'

For the compilation of the Index I am mainly indebted to my wife.

F. S. B.

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