The Artistic Links Between William Shakespeare and Sir Thomas More: Radically Different Richards

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Palgrave Macmillan, May 15, 2011 - Literary Criticism - 293 pages
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The Halletts’ investigation differs from anything that has been written about the relationship between Thomas More and William Shakespeare in that it approaches the subject from a dramaturgical point of view.  What was Shakespeare the artist looking for that made him seize upon More’s "History" per se and base "Richard III" entirely on the brief four-month period covered in More’s book, "compressing" time rather than "telescoping" it?  What did Shakespeare find in More that resulted in his amazing new ability to create dramatic scenes of the sort that one finds in Richard’s wooing of the Citizens at Baynard’s Castle, which More himself did not dramatize but harshly denigrated?  What was the imaginative process that enabled Shakespeare to create the scenes in which Richard woos first Lady Anne and later Queen Elizabeth (neither of which are in More) on the model of what he learned from writing the Baynard’s Castle scene?  How was Shakespeare able to separate out More’s negative and disparaging view of Richard’s thespian abilities (which, More assures his readers, everyone instantly saw through) from the buoyant and positive view that Shakespeare’s Richard offers of his own powers as dramatist, presenter, actor, and would-be king?  All of these questions need to be answered.  No book has yet attempted to define in specific terms either what Shakespeare learned from his study of More’s "History" or how he learned it.  This book, we hope, is unique.  Shakespeare’s newly discovered dramatic techniques are explicated in the various chapters with clarity and strength in a way that can benefit future generations of artists.

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About the author (2011)

Charles A. Hallett is Emeritus Professor of English at Fordham University and a Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College.  He is the author of Middleton’s Cynics: The Moral Psychology of the Mediocre Mind and his essays on Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton, Wycherley, and Ibsen have appeared in journals such as Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare Bulletin, Studies in Philology, JEGP, Comparative Drama, and Philosophical Quarterly. 

Elaine S. Hallett is a former editor of Theatre Arts Books and her reviews and essays have appeared in the New Oxford Review

Charles A. Hallett and Elaine S. Hallett are the co-authors of The Revenger’s Madness: A Study of Revenge Tragedy Motifs and Analyzing Shakespeare’s Action: Scene Versus Sequence.

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