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Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist Paperback – December 24, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0521045667 ISBN-10: 0521045665 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (December 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521045665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521045667
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,570,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"It may seem crazy that a man has to sit down and write an exceedingly learned book to prove that Shakespeare is literature. But I must say I found this mustered evidence and these arguments completely gripping."
- New York Review of Books, James Fenton

"One of the best books this year.... Erne achieves nothing less than the complete undoing of our understanding of Shakespeare as author."
- Studies in English Literature

"Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist is an unusually lively and provocative book exploring the status of printed drama in Shakespeare's England. Erne forces a welcome rethinking of many of the most confidently held assumptions about early modern literary culture, as he powerfully re-examines the interests of theatre companies, the operations of the book trade, the activities of early readers, and, perhaps most consequentially, Shakespeare's own literary understanding and ambitions."
- David Kastan, Columbia University

"This is an ambitious book which convincingly rewrites theatre history, textual criticism, and the relation between the two. Of interest to all scholars of Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, the argument shows Erne to be as fine a literary critic as he is a textual scholar and theatre historian. This is essential reading for all Renaissance graduate courses, for those who care about the workings of the Elizabethan theatre and the book trade, and for those who are interested in the evolution of literary status and authorship."
- Laurie Maguire, Magdalen College, Oxford University

"Lukas Erne's Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist is a book for the new century. Erne shows decisively that Shakespeare and his acting companies produced playtexts for both performance and publication, on stage and on page, for the playhouse and the printing house. Thus, Erne's Shakespeare is precisely a man of the theater who became a literary dramatist, at once concerned with the next perfomance and his own literary reputation. Lucidly cast and carefully researched, this book will be an important study in the ongoing attempt to recover the original historical conditions under which Shakespeare's plays were written, performed, and printed."
- Patrick Cheney, Penn State University

"Anyone who has suspected that Shakespeare wrote for the page as well as the stage will want to read this eloquent and convincing book. Lukas Erne has worked through a mountain of evidence, thoughtfully and thoroughly. to reconsider the received idea that Shakespeare was indifferent to the survival of his work."
- Ruth More, Univ. de Paris VII

"One of the most fascinating, thought-provoking, and lucid studies of Shakespeare I can remember reading."
- Ben Jonson Journal

"An important book for students of Elizabethan drama. highly recommended."
- Choice

"...a bold, provocative study..."
- Sixteenth Century Journal, Lois Kim, University of Texas at Austin

"Thoroughly researched, coherent, and clear, Erne's book is a solid work of scholarship; it exemplifies the fruitful marriage of the historicist method and the Shakespearean text."
- Renaissance Quarterly, Julie Keenan

"Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist is an elegant and subtly conceived peice of work. Its arguments are well constructed and compelling and Erne writes with great lucidity and persuasiveness. The book is ambitious in its scope and offers arguments that should fundamentally change the way in which we conceive of Renaissance textuality and theatrical practice. It lays the foundations for an exciting new program of research within the field of Renaissance studies."
- Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England

"This is a fine and useful book, generous in matter and manner, that will certainly change our future discourse about dramatic texts and about Shakespeare. "
Modern Philology Richard Knowles

"Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist is intelligently argued, impeccably researched, and accesibly written. Whether a performance specialist, textual scholar, cultural historian, or interested general reader, if you find time to read only one book on Shakespeare's drama from cover to cover this year, this should be the one." Essays in Theatre Margaret Jane Kidnie, University of Western Ontario

Book Description

In this groundbreaking study, Lukas Erne argues that Shakespeare, apart from being a playwright who wrote theatrical texts for the stage, was also a literary dramatist who produced reading texts for the page. Contrary to a long-standing consensus, Shakespeare does not seem to have been opposed, nor indifferent, to the publication of his plays, but pursued a policy of trying to get them published. Accordingly, Shakespeare's long playtexts survive in a literary format and would have been considerably abridged before reaching the stage.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Q on March 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book has totally changed the way I think about Shakespeare. Erne absolutely demolishes an entire tradition of Shakespeare scholarship: i.e.,that Shakespeare wrote only for the stage and did not care about the publication or literary afterlife of his plays. Erne reminds us that Renaissance stage performances were approximately 2 hours long, 2 ˝ at most. And even at performance speeds far exceeding modern standards, the maximum number of lines that could be acted in 2 ˝ hours is 2500. Yet no less than 28 out of Shakespeare's 37 plays are over 2700 lines! Why did Shakespeare write such long plays that could not be acted on the stage? Erne argues convincingly that he wrote the long versions for publication and then abridged them for stage performance. The so-called "bad quartos" of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Henry V represent acting versions of the longer folio versions. The quarto versions of the plays were published by Shakespeare and the acting company; they were not stolen by spectators with notebooks, or reconstructed later by actors. Likewise, Erne argues that Shakespeare himself planned the folio text, even though he never lived to see it through to publication. In sum, Shakespeare was self-conscious literary artist, well aware of the literary value of his plays, who wrote his plays both as literature to be read and as scripts to be performed.
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