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Eighteenth Century Essays on Shakespeare   By: (1875-1962)

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Eighteenth Century Essays on Shakespeare is a remarkable compilation of essays edited by David Nichol Smith that provides a comprehensive exploration of Shakespeare's works during the 18th century. This collection offers readers a captivating insight into the thoughts and opinions of renowned literary figures of that time, shedding light on the profound influence Shakespeare had on the literary landscape.

The book covers a wide range of topics, encompassing various aspects of Shakespeare's plays, including his characters, language, and themes. Each essay delves deep into a specific area, offering original and thought-provoking interpretations that demonstrate the depth of critical thinking prevalent during the 18th century. Readers will appreciate the diversity of perspectives presented, providing a rich tapestry of scholarly analysis that engages both casual readers and Shakespeare enthusiasts alike.

One of the notable strengths of this collection is the contributors' ability to contextualize Shakespeare within the social and political framework of the 18th century. By analyzing the reception of his plays during this period, the essays shed light on the ways in which Shakespeare's works were adapted, reinterpreted, and even censored to suit the evolving cultural norms and theatrical practices of the time. This historical approach deepens our understanding of Shakespeare's enduring legacy and highlights the dynamic interplay between his works and the society in which they were performed.

Moreover, the essays in this collection demonstrate the evolution of Shakespearean criticism, as they reflect the changing literary trends and modes of analysis that emerged during the 18th century. From the influence of the neoclassical approach to the rise of sentimentalism, readers can trace the development of critical thought surrounding Shakespeare's works. The authors engage in spirited debates and discussions, providing valuable insights into the shifting perceptions of Shakespeare's plays and their significance within the literary canon.

Throughout the book, Smith's meticulous editing ensures a cohesive and coherent reading experience. The essays are well-organized and complement each other, presenting a comprehensive exploration of the 18th-century reception of Shakespeare. Smith also provides informative introductions to each essay, offering important contextual information and background on the authors, further enhancing our understanding of the collected works.

Despite its academic nature, Eighteenth Century Essays on Shakespeare maintains a strong readability, making it accessible to both scholars and general readers. The essays are written with a clarity and precision that allows readers to easily grasp the arguments presented, even when discussing complex literary theories or challenging interpretations.

In conclusion, Eighteenth Century Essays on Shakespeare is an exceptional anthology that offers an invaluable snapshot of the 18th-century reception and interpretation of Shakespeare's works. David Nichol Smith's skillful editorial work, combined with the diverse and insightful essays, make this collection a must-read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Shakespeare's impact on the literary landscape during this fascinating period.

First Page:

Eighteenth Century

Essays on Shakespeare

Edited by

D. Nichol Smith, M.A.


James MacLehose and Sons

Publishers to the University



Preface. Introduction. Shakespearian Criticism in the Eighteenth Century. Nicholas Rowe: Some Account of the Life &c. of Mr. William Shakespear. 1709. John Dennis: On the Genius and Writings of Shakespeare. 1711. Alexander Pope: Preface to Edition of Shakespeare. 1725. Lewis Theobald: Preface to Edition of Shakespeare. 1733. Sir Thomas Hanmer: Preface to Edition of Shakespeare. 1744. William Warburton: Preface to Edition of Shakespeare. 1747. Samuel Johnson: Preface to Edition of Shakespeare. 1765. Richard Farmer: An Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare: Addressed to Joseph Cradock, Esq. 1767. Maurice Morgann: An Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff. 1777. Notes. Nicholas Rowe. John Dennis. Alexander Pope. Lewis Theobald. Sir Thomas Hanmer. William Warburton. Samuel Johnson. Richard Farmer. Maurice Morgann. Index. Footnotes

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