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How Shakspere Came to Write the Tempest   By: (1865-1936)

How Shakspere Came to Write the Tempest by Rudyard Kipling

First Page:

How Shakspere Came to Write the 'Tempest'

PUBLICATIONS of the Dramatic Museum OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK

Third Series

Papers on Playmaking:

I HOW SHAKSPERE CAME TO WRITE THE 'TEMPEST'. By Rudyard Kipling. With an introduction by Ashley H. Thorndike.

II HOW PLAYS ARE WRITTEN. Letters from Augier, Dumas, Sardou, Zola and others. Translated by Dudley Miles. With an introduction by William Gillette.

III A STAGE PLAY. By Sir William Schenck Gilbert. With an introduction by William Archer.

IV A THEORY OF THE THEATER. By Francisque Sarcey. Translated by H. H. Hughes. With an introduction and notes by Brander Matthews.

V (Extra volume) A catalog of Models and of Stage Sets in the Dramatic Museum of Columbia University.

PAPERS ON PLAYMAKING

I

How Shakspere Came to Write the 'Tempest'

BY RUDYARD KIPLING

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ASHLEY H. THORNDIKE

Printed for the Dramatic Museum of Columbia University in the City of New York MCMXVI

INTRODUCTION AND NOTES COPYRIGHT 1916 BY DRAMATIC MUSEUM OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

CONTENTS

Introduction by Ashley H. Thorndike 1

How Shakspere Came to Write the 'Tempest' 23

Notes by A. H. T. 33

INTRODUCTION

Mr. Kipling's brilliant reconstruction of the genesis of the 'Tempest' may remind us how often that play has excited the creative fancy of its readers. It has given rise to many imitations, adaptations, and sequels. Fletcher copied its storm, its desert island, and its woman who had never seen a man. Suckling borrowed its spirits. Davenant and Dryden added a man who had never seen a woman, a husband for Sycorax, and a sister for Caliban. Mr. Percy Mackaye has used its scene, mythology, and persons for his tercentenary Shaksperian Masque. Its suggestiveness has extended beyond the drama, and aroused moral allegories and disquisitions. Caliban has been elaborated as the Missing Link, and in the philosophical drama of Renan as the spirit of Democracy, and in Browning's poem as a satire on the anthropomorphic conception of Deity.

But apart from such commentaries by poets and philosophers, the poem has lived these many generations in the imaginations of thousands. There, the enchanted island has multiplied and continued its existence. Shelley sang,

Of a land far from ours Where music and moonlight and feeling are one.

Shakspere created that land as the possession of each of us. Not far removed, but close to the great continent of our daily routine and drudgery, lies this enchanted island where we may find music and moonlight and feeling, and also fun and mischief and wisdom. There, in tune with the melody and transfigured as by the charm of moonlight, we may encounter the nonsense of drunken clowns, the mingled greed and romance of primitive man, the elfishness of a child, the beauty of girlhood, and the benign philosophy of old age. We may leave the city at the close of business, and, if we avoid the snares of Caliban and Trinculo, we may sup with Prospero, Ariel, and Miranda.

How did Shakspere discover this enchanted island? From what materials did he create the "baseless fabric of this vision"? What had London playhouses to do with these spirits of thin air? On what books or plays were these dreams made? Out of the issues of rivalry and profit which beset the King's company of players at the Globe and the Blackfriars, how came this "insubstantial pageant"? We have been told that the Sonnets are the key with which to unlock Shakspere's heart; and perhaps if we could answer all these questions we might have the key to his imagination. I do not believe, however, that his imagination was lockt up. Rather it was open wide to many impulses, hospitable to countless influences. This apparently is the opinion of Mr. Kipling, who suggests that Shakspere's "vision was woven from the most prosaic material, from nothing more promising, in fact, than the chatter of a half tipsy sailor at the theater... Continue reading book >>




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