The Works of William Shakespeare

Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012 - 364 páginas
Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM. INTRODUCTION. DR. JOHNSON, doling out scarce half a dozen lines of cold approval to this play, devotes two of them to Baying, Fairies in his [Shakespeare's] time were much in fashion: common tradition had made them familiar, and Spenser's poem had made them great. But, unfortunately for Shakespeare's reputation, the ignorance and misapprehension displayed in this sentence sadly impair the value of that approbation of which it forms so large a part. An editor of Shakespeare should have known that the fairies of The Faerie Qtteen ancr those of A Mid- iummer-Nighfs Dream are not the same. A reader capable of appreciating either poem, on reading both, must see, untold, that they have nothing in common. The personages of Spenser's allegory are the supernatural beings of stately romance, endowed with traits typical of the moral virtues: the freakful atomies of Shakespeare's dream are the ' good people' in whose actual existence every rustic in England had full faith ? a faith shared by no small proportion of his superiors in rank and education, until the poet's hand transplanted elf and fay from the byways of tradition and the dim retreats of superstition into the bright and open realms of fancy and imagination. For there seems to be no ground on which to rest a doubt that Shakespeare was the first to give the fairy of the fireside tale either an embodiment upon the stage or a place in literature, however humble. Evidence abounds that the Oberon, the Ti- lania, and, above all, the Puck of this play are ideals, the prototypes of which figured in countless tales familiar as household words to English folk of Shakespeare's day and their immediate progenitors; and yet there is great lack of contemporary illustration of this subject, because, until ...

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William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School. At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry. By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true. Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.

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