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Shakespeare: His Life, Art, And Characters, Volume I. With An Historical Sketch Of The Origin And Growth Of The Drama In England   By: (1814-1886)

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First Page:

SHAKESPEARE:

HIS

LIFE, ART, AND CHARACTERS.

WITH

AN HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE ORIGIN AND GROWTH OF THE DRAMA IN ENGLAND.

FOURTH EDITION, REVISED .

BY

THE REV. H.N. HUDSON, LL.D.

VOLUME I.

GINN AND COMPANY

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by

HENRY N. HUDSON,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

TO

MR. JOSEPH BURNETT, OF SOUTHBOROUGH, MASS.

Sir:

The Memories of a Friendship running, I believe, without interruption through a period of more than five and twenty years, prompt the inscribing of these volumes to you.

H.N. HUDSON.

BOSTON, January 1, 1872.

CONTENTS.

LIFE OF SHAKESPEARE

ORIGIN AND GROWTH OF THE DRAMA IN ENGLAND MIRACLE PLAYS MORAL PLAYS COMEDY AND TRAGEDY

SHAKESPEARE'S CONTEMPORARIES

SHAKESPEARE'S ART NATURE AND USE OF ART PRINCIPLES OF ART DRAMATIC COMPOSITION CHARACTERIZATION HUMOUR STYLE MORAL SPIRIT

SHAKESPEARE'S CHARACTERS A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM THE MERCHANT OF VENICE THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING AS YOU LIKE IT TWELFTH NIGHT ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL MEASURE FOR MEASURE THE TEMPEST THE WINTER'S TALE

[Illustration: Etched by Leopold Fluming after the Chandos painting.]

LIFE OF SHAKESPEARE.

Shakespeare,[1] by general suffrage, is the greatest name in literature. There can be no extravagance in saying, that to all who speak the English language his genius has made the world better worth living in, and life a nobler and diviner thing. And even among those who do not "speak the tongue that Shakespeare spake," large numbers are studying the English language mainly for the purpose of being at home with him. How he came to be what he was, and to do what he did, are questions that can never cease to be interesting, wherever his works are known, and men's powers of thought in any fair measure developed. But Providence has left a veil, or rather a cloud, about his history, so that these questions are not likely to be satisfactorily answered.

[1] Much discussion has been had in our time as to the right way of spelling the Poet's name. The few autographs of his that are extant do not enable us to decide positively how he wrote his name; or rather they show that he had no one constant way of writing it. But the Venus and Adonis and the Lucrece were unquestionably published by his authority, and in the dedications of both these poems the name is printed "Shakespeare." The same holds in all the quarto issues of his plays where the author's name is given, with the one exception of Love's Labour's Lost , which has it "Shakespere"; as it also holds in the folio. And in very many of these cases the name is printed with a hyphen, "Shake speare," as if on purpose that there might be no mistake about it. All which, surely, is or ought to be decisive as to how the Poet willed his name to be spelt in print. Inconstancy in the spelling of names was very common in his time.

The first formal attempt at an account of Shakespeare's life was made by Nicholas Rowe, and the result thereof published in 1709, ninety three years after the Poet's death. Rowe's account was avowedly made up, for the most part, from traditionary materials collected by Betterton the actor, who made a visit to Stratford expressly for that purpose. Betterton was born in 1635, nineteen years after the death of Shakespeare; became an actor before 1660, retired from the stage about 1700, and died in 1710. At what time he visited Stratford is not known. It is to be regretted that Rowe did not give Betterton's authorities for the particulars gathered by him. It is certain, however, that very good sources of information were accessible in his time: Judith Quiney, the Poet's second daughter, lived till 1662; Lady Barnard, his granddaughter, till 1670; and Sir William Davenant, who in his youth had known Shakespeare, was manager of the theatre in which Betterton acted... Continue reading book >>




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