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

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9780198112334: The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship, 1660-1769
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Book by Dobson Michael

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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 18th 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 Drawing on a wide range of evidence - including engravings, prompt-books, diaries, statuary, and previously unpublished poems (among them traces of the hitherto mysterious Shakespeare Ladies' Club), it examines how and why Shakespeare was retrospectively claimed as both a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. The book provides a thorough analysis of the definitive account of the theatre's role in establishing Shakespeare as Britain's National Poet. This book is aimed at scholars, graduates, advanced undergraduates studying Shakespeare, cultural historians studying 18th century, theatre historians, art historians.

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