Shakespeare's Early History Plays: From Chronicle to Stage

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Oxford University Press, 2003 - Literary Criticism - 312 pages
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Like many of his fellow playwrights, Shakespeare turned to national history for inspiration. In this study, Dominique Goy-Blanquet provides a close comparison of the Henry VI plays and Richard III with their historical and theatrical sources, demonstrating how Shakespeare was able to meet notonly the ideological but also the technical problems of turning history into drama, how by cutting, carving, shaping, casting his unwieldy material into performable plays, he matured into the most influential dramatist and historian of his time. Recent criticism of Shakespeare's history plays has often consisted of fierce arguments over their ideological import and Shakespeare's position on the spectrum of current political opinions. This book, however, stems from the belief that a more constructive starting point for research is theexploration of the technical problems raised by turning heavy narratives into performable plays, rather than the political motives that could inpire a playwright's representation of national history. Illuminating and instructive, Shakespeare's Early History Plays includes not only close investigation of the verbal, poetic, and political texture of the plays, but also provides a broad overview of the wider sixteenth-century historiographical contexts of the plays, and their significance toShakespeare's oeuvre more generally.
 

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Contents

National Unity and Military Honour
19
The theme of union
37
Space and time
51
Playing with time
64
Grammatical Laws
87
Court masks street masques
106
Unhappy Families
120
Critical rewriting
136
The actors of the drama
168
To be continued
188
Positions of the texts
209
Hall or Holinshed?
232
z Mores dramatic History
250
Poetic licence
263
A World to Bustle in
290
Index
303

The Dawn of Tragedy
155

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About the author (2003)


Dominique Goy-Blanquet is Professor of Elizabethan Theatre at the University of Picardie. She is a leading French Shakespearean scholar and a regular contributor to the TLS and various French magazines.

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