Реферат: Биография Вильяма Шекспира (Shakespeare William), подробный обзор его творчества. Сюжет и содержание произведения "Ромео и Джульетта"


Shakespeare the man


Although the amount of factualknowledge available about Shakespeare is surprisingly large for one of hisstation in life, many find it a little disappointing, for it is mostly gleanedfrom documents of an official character. Dates of baptisms, marriages, deaths,and burials; wills, conveyances, legal processes, and payments by thecourt--these are the dusty details. There are, however, a fair number ofcontemporary allusions to him as a writer, and these add a reasonable amount offlesh and blood to the biographical skeleton.

Early life in Stratford.

The parish register of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon,Warwickshire, shows that he was baptized there on April 26, 1564; his birthdayis traditionally celebrated on April 23. His father, John Shakespeare, was aburgess of the borough, who in 1565 was chosen an alderman and in 1568 bailiff(the position corresponding to mayor, before the grant of a further charter toStratford in 1664). He was engaged in various kinds of trade and appears tohave suffered some fluctuations in prosperity. His wife, Mary Arden, ofWilmcote, Warwickshire, came from an ancient family and was the heiress to someland. (Given the somewhat rigid social distinctions of the 16th century, thismarriage must have been a step up the social scale for John Shakespeare.)

Stratford enjoyed a grammar school of good quality,and the education there was free, the schoolmaster's salary being paid by theborough. No lists of the pupils who were at the school in the 16th century havesurvived, but it would be absurd to suppose the bailiff of the town did notsend his son there. The boy's education would consist mostly of Latinstudies--learning to read, write, and speak the language fairly well andstudying some of the classical historians, moralists, and poets. Shakespearedid not go on to the university, and indeed it is unlikely that the tediousround of logic, rhetoric, and other studies then followed there would haveinterested him.

Instead, at the age of 18 he married. Where andexactly when are not known, but the episcopal registry at Worcester preserves abond dated November 28, 1582, and executed by two yeomen of Stratford, namedSandells and Richardson, as a security to the bishop for the issue of a licensefor the marriage of William Shakespeare and «Anne Hathaway ofStratford,» upon the consent of her friends and upon once asking of thebanns. (Anne died in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare. There is goodevidence to associate her with a family of Hathaways who inhabited a beautifulfarmhouse, now much visited, two miles from Stratford.) The next date ofinterest is found in the records of the Stratford church, where a daughter,named Susanna, born to William Shakespeare, was baptized on May 26, 1583. OnFebruary 2, 1585, twins were baptized, Hamnet and Judith. (The boy Hamnet,Shakespeare's only son, died 11 years later.)

How Shakespeare spent the next eight years or so,until his name begins to appear in London theatre records, is not known. Thereare stories--given currency long after his death--of stealing deer and gettinginto trouble with a local magnate, SirThomas Lucy of Charlecote, near Stratford; of earning his living as aschoolmaster in the country; of going to London and gaining entry to the worldof theatre by minding the horses of theatregoers; it has also been conjecturedthat Shakespeare spent some time as a member of a great household and that hewas a soldier, perhaps in the Low Countries. In lieu of external evidence, suchextrapolations about Shakespeare's life have often been made from the internal«evidence» of his writings. But this method is unsatisfactory: onecannot conclude, for example, from his allusions to the law that Shakespearewas a lawyer; for he was clearly a writer, who without difficulty could getwhatever knowledge he needed for the composition of his plays.

Career in the theatre.

The first reference to Shakespeare in the literaryworld of London comes in 1592, when a fellow dramatist, Robert Greene, declaredin a pamphlet written on his deathbed:

There is an upstart crow, beautified withour feathers, that with his Tygers heartwrapt in a Players hide supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blankverse as the best of you; and, being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in acountry.

It is difficult to be certain what these words mean;but it is clear that they are insulting and that Shakespeare is the object ofthe sarcasms. When the book in which they appear (Greenes groats-worth of witte, bought with a million of repentance, 1592)was published after Greene's death, a mutual acquaintance wrote a prefaceoffering an apology to Shakespeare and testifying to his worth. This prefacealso indicates that Shakespeare was by then making important friends. For,although the puritanical city of London was generally hostile to the theatre,many of the nobility were good patrons of the drama and friends of actors.Shakespeare seems to have attracted the attention of the young Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd earl ofSouthampton; and to this nobleman were dedicated his first published poems,Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.

One striking piece of evidence that Shakespearebegan to prosper early and tried to retrieve the family fortunes and establishits gentility is the fact that a coat of arms was granted to John Shakespearein 1596. Rough drafts of this grant have been preserved in the College of Arms,London, though the final document, which must have been handed to theShakespeares, has not survived. It can scarcely be doubted that it was Williamwho took the initiative and paid the fees. The coat of arms appears onShakespeare's monument (constructed before 1623) in the Stratford church.Equally interesting as evidence of Shakespeare's worldly success was hispurchase in 1597 of New Place, a large house in Stratford, which as a boy hemust have passed every day in walking to school.

It is not clear how his career in the theatre began;but from about 1594 onward he was an important member of the company of playersknown as the Lord Chamberlain'sMen (called the King's Men after the accession of James I in 1603). Theyhad the best actor, RichardBurbage; they had the best theatre, the Globe; they had the bestdramatist, Shakespeare. It is no wonder that the company prospered. Shakespearebecame a full-time professional man of his own theatre, sharing in acooperative enterprise and intimately concerned with the financial success ofthe plays he wrote.

Unfortunately, written records give littleindication of the way in which Shakespeare's professional life molded hismarvellous artistry. All that can be deduced is that for 20 years Shakespearedevoted himself assiduously to his art, writing more than a million words ofpoetic drama of the highest quality.

Private life.

Shakespeare had little contact with officialdom,apart from walking--dressed in the royal livery as a member of the King'sMen--at the coronation of King James I in 1604. He continued to look after hisfinancial interests. He bought properties in London and in Stratford. In 1605he purchased a share (about one-fifth) of the Stratford tithes--a fact thatexplains why he was eventually buried in the chancel of its parish church. For sometime he lodged with a French Huguenot family called Mountjoy, who lived nearSt. Olave's Church, Cripplegate, London. The records of a lawsuit in May 1612,due to a Mountjoy family quarrel, show Shakespeare as giving evidence in agenial way (though unable to remember certain important facts that would havedecided the case) and as interesting himself generally in the family's affairs.

No letters written by Shakespeare have survived, buta private letter to him happened to get caught up with some officialtransactions of the town of Stratford and so has been preserved in the borougharchives. It was written by one Richard Quiney and addressed by him from theBell Inn in Carter Lane, London, whither he had gone from Stratford uponbusiness. On one side of the paper is inscribed: «To my loving good friendand countryman, Mr. Wm. Shakespeare, deliver these.» Apparently Quineythought his fellow Stratfordian a person to whom he could apply for the loan ofPRIVATE«TYPE=PICT;ALT={poundsterling}»30--a large sum in Elizabethan money. Nothing further is known aboutthe transaction, but, because so few opportunities of seeing into Shakespeare'sprivate life present themselves, this begging letter becomes a touchingdocument. It is of some interest, moreover, that 18 years later Quiney's sonThomas became the husband of Judith, Shakespeare's second daughter.

Shakespeare's will (made on March 25, 1616) is along and detailed document. It entailed his quite ample property on the maleheirs of his elder daughter, Susanna. (Both his daughters were then married,one to the aforementioned Thomas Quiney and the other to John Hall, a respectedphysician of Stratford.) As an afterthought, he bequeathed his «second-bestbed» to his wife; but no one can be certain what this notorious legacymeans. The testator's signatures to the will are apparently in a shaky hand.Perhaps Shakespeare was already ill. He died on April 23, 1616. No name wasinscribed on his gravestone in the chancel of the parish church ofStratford-upon-Avon. Instead these lines, possibly his own, appeared:

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.


Shakespeare's family orfriends, however, were not content with a simple gravestone, and, within a fewyears, a monument was erected on the chancel wall. It seems to have existed by1623. Its epitaph, written in Latin and inscribed immediately below the bust,attributes to Shakespeare the worldly wisdom of Nestor, the genius of Socrates,and the poetic art of Virgil. This apparently was how his contemporaries inStratford-upon-Avon wished their fellow citizen to be remembered.


Despite much scholarly argument, it is often impossibleto date a given play precisely. But there is a general consensus, especiallyfor plays written 1585-1601, 1605-07, and 1609 onward. The following list offirst performances is based on external and internal evidence, on generalstylistic and thematic considerations, and on the observation that an output ofno more than two plays a year seems to have been established in those periodswhen dating is rather clearer than others.

1589-92Henry VI, Part 1; Henry VI, Part 2; HenryVI, Part 3

1592-93Richard III, The Comedy of Errors

1593-94Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew

1594-95The Two Gentlemen of Verona,Love's Labour's Lost, Romeo and Juliet

1595-96Richard II, A Midsummer Night's Dream

1596-97King John, The Merchant of Venice

1597-98Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2

1598-99Much Ado About Nothing

c.1599 HenryV

1599-1600Julius Caesar, As You Like It

1600-01Hamlet, The Merry Wives of Windsor

1601-02Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida

1602-03All's Well That Ends Well

1604-05Measure For Measure, Othello

1605-06King Lear, Macbeth

1606-07Antony and Cleopatra

1607-08Coriolanus, Timon of Athens



1610-11The Winter's Tale

c.1611 TheTempest

1612-13Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen

Shakespeare's two narrative poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, can be dated withcertainty to the years when the Plague stopped dramatic performances in London,in 1592 and 1593-94, respectively, just before their publication. But thesonnets offer many and various problems; they cannot have been written all atone time, and most scholars set them within the period 1593-1600. «ThePhoenix and the Turtle» can be dated 1600-01.


During Shakespeare's early career, dramatistsinvariably sold their plays to an actor's company, who then took charge ofthem, prepared working promptbooks, and did their best to prevent anothercompany or a publisher from getting copies; in this way they could exploit theplays themselves for as long as they drew an audience. But some plays did getpublished, usually in small books called quartos. Occasionally plays were«pirated,» the text being dictated by one or two disaffected actorsfrom the company that had performed it or else made up from shorthand notestaken surreptitiously during performance and subsequently corrected duringother performances; parts 2 and 3 of the HenryVI (1594 and 1595) and Hamlet (1603)quartos are examples of pirated, or «bad,» texts. Sometimes anauthor's «foul papers» (his first complete draft) or his«fair» copy--or a transcript of either of these--got into apublisher's hands, and «good quartos» were printed from them, such asthose of Titus Andronicus (1594), Love's Labour's Lost (1598), and Richard II (1597). After the publicationof «bad» quartos of Hamlet andRomeo and Juliet (1597), theChamberlain's Men probably arranged for the release of the «foulpapers» so that second--«good»--quartos could supersede thegarbled versions already on the market. This company had powerful friends atcourt, and in 1600 a special order was entered in the Stationers' Register to«stay» the publication of AsYou Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, and Henry V, possibly in order to assure that good texts wereavailable. Subsequently Henry V (1600)was pirated, and Much Ado About Nothing wasprinted from «foul papers»; AsYou Like It did not appear in print until it was included in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories& Tragedies, published in folio (the reference is to the size of page)by a syndicate in 1623 (later editions appearing in 1632 and 1663).

The only precedent for such a collected edition ofpublic theatre plays in a handsome folio volume was Ben Jonson's collectedplays of 1616. Shakespeare's folio included 36 plays, 22 of them appearing forthe first time in a good text. (For the Third Folio reissue of 1664, Pericles was added from a quarto text of1609, together with six apocryphal plays.) The First Folio texts were preparedby John Heminge and Henry Condell (two of Shakespeare's fellow sharers in theChamberlain's, now the King's, Men), who made every effort to present thevolume worthily. Only about 230 copies of the First Folio are known to havesurvived.

The following list gives details of plays firstpublished individually and indicates the authority for each substantiveedition. Q stands for Quarto: Q2, Q3, Q4, etc., stand for reprints of anoriginal quarto. F stands for the First Folio edition of 1623.

Henry VI, Part 2Q 1594: a reported text. Ffrom revised fair copies, edited with reference to Q.

Titus AndronicusQ 1594: from foul papers. Ffrom a copy of Q, with additions from a manuscript that had been used as apromptbook.

Henry VI, Part 3Q 1595: a reported text. Fas for Henry VI, Part 2.

Richard IIIQ 1597: a reconstructedtext prepared for use as a promptbook. F from reprints of Q, edited with reference to foul papers and containing some 200 additional lines.

Love's Labour'sLost Q is lost. Q2 1598: from foul papers, and badly printed. Ffrom Q2.

Romeo and JulietQ 1597: a reported text. Q2from foul papers, with some reference to Q. F from a reprint of Q2.

Richard IIQ 1597: from foul papersand missing the abdication scene. Q4 1608, with reported version of missingscene. F from reprints of Q, but the abdication scene from an authoritativemanuscript, probably the promptbook (of which traces appear elsewhere in F).

Henry IV, Part 1Q 1598: from foul papers. Ffrom Q5, with some literary editing.

A MidsummerNight's Dream Q 1600: from the author's fair copy. F from Q2, withsome reference to a promptbook.

The Merchantof Venice Q 1600: from foul papers. F from Q, with some referenceto a promptbook.

Henry IV, Part 2Q 1600: from foul papers. Ffrom Q, with reference to a promptbook.

Much Ado AboutNothing Q 1600: from the author's fair papers. F from Q, withreference to a promptbook.

Henry VQ 1600: a reported text. Ffrom foul papers (possibly of a second version of the play).

The Merry Wivesof Windsor Q 1602: a reported (and abbreviated) text. F from atranscript, by Ralph Crane (scrivener of the King's Men), of a revisedpromptbook.

HamletQ 1603: a reported text,with reference to an earlier play. Q2 from foul papers, with reference to Q. Ffrom Q2, with reference to a promptbook, with theatrical and authorialadditions.

King LearQ 1608: from an inadequatetranscript of foul papers, with use made of a reported version. F from Q,collated with a promptbook of a shortened version.

Troilus andCressida Q 1609: from a fair copy, possibly the author's. F from Q,with reference to foul papers, adding 45 lines and the Prologue.

PericlesQ 1609: a poor text, badlyprinted with both auditory and graphic errors.

OthelloQ 1622: from a transcriptof foul papers. F from Q, with corrections from another authorial version ofthe play.

Theplays published for the first time in the First Folio of 1623 are:

All's Well That Ends WellFrom the author's fairpapers, or a transcript of them.

Antony andCleopatra From an authorial fair copy.

Henry VI, Part 1

As You Like ItFrom a promptbook, or atranscript of it.

The Comedy ofErrors From foul papers.

CoriolanusFrom an authorial faircopy, edited for the printer.

CymbelineFrom an authorial copy, ora transcript of such, imperfectly prepared as a promptbook.

Henry VIIIFrom a transcript of a faircopy, made by the author, prepared for reading.

Julius CaesarFrom a transcript of apromptbook.

King JohnFrom an authorial faircopy.

MacbethFrom a promptbook of aversion prepared for court performance.

Measure forMeasure From a transcript, by Ralph Crane, of very imperfect foulpapers.

The Taming ofthe Shrew From foul papers.

The TempestFrom an edited transcript,by Ralph Crane, of the author's papers.

Timon of AthensFrom foul papers, probablyunfinished.

Twelfth NightFrom a promptbook, or atranscript of it.

The Two Gentlemen of VeronaFrom a transcript, by RalphCrane, of a promptbook, probably of a shortened version.

The Winter'sTale From a transcript, by Ralph Crane, probably from the author'sfair copy.

The texts of Venusand Adonis (1593) and The Rape ofLucrece (1594) are remarkably free from errors. Shakespeare presumablyfurnished a fair copy of each for the printer. He also seems to have read theproofs. The sonnets were published in 1609, but there is no evidence thatShakespeare oversaw their publication.


The early poems.

Shakespeare dedicated the poem Venus and Adonis to his patron, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd earl ofSouthampton, whom he further promised to honour with «some graverlabour»--perhaps The Rape ofLucrece, which appeared a year later and was also dedicated to Southampton.As these two poems were something on which Shakespeare was intending to basehis reputation with the public and to establish himself with his patron, theywere displays of his virtuosity--diploma pieces. They were certainly the mostpopular of his writings with the reading public and impressed them with hispoetic genius. Seven editions of Venusand Adonis had appeared by 1602 and 16 by 1640; Lucrece, a more serious poem, went through eight editions by 1640;and there are numerous allusions to them in the literature of the time. Butafter that, until the 19th century, they were little regarded. Even then thecritics did not know what to make of them: on the one hand, Venus and Adonis is licentiously erotic(though its sensuality is often rather comic); while Lucrece may seem to be tragic enough, the treatment of the poem isyet somewhat cold and distant. In both cases the poet seems to be displayingdexterity rather than being «sincere.» But Shakespeare's detachmentfrom his subjects has come to be admired in more recent assessments.

Above all, the poems give evidence for the growth ofShakespeare's imagination. Venus andAdonis is full of vivid imagery of the countryside; birds, beasts, thehunt, the sky, and the weather, the overflowing Avon--these give freshness to thepoem and contrast strangely with the sensuous love scenes. Lucrece is more rhetorical and elaborate than Venus and Adonis and also aims higher. Its disquisitions (uponnight, time, opportunity, and lust, for example) anticipate brilliant speecheson general themes in the plays--on mercy in TheMerchant of Venice, suicide in Hamlet,and «degree» in Troilus andCressida.

There are a few other poems attributed toShakespeare. When the Sonnets wereprinted in 1609, a 329-line poem, «A Lovers complaint,» was added atthe end of the volume, plainly ascribed by the publisher to Shakespeare. Therehas been a good deal of discussion about the authorship of this poem. Only theevidence of style, however, could call into question the publisher'sascription, and this is conflicting. Parts of the poem and some lines arebrilliant, but other parts seem poor in a way that is not like Shakespeare'scareless writing. Its narrative structure is remarkable, however, and the poemdeserves more attention than it usually receives. It is now generally thoughtto be from Shakespeare's pen, possibly an early poem revised by him at a moremature stage of his poetical style. Whether the poem in its extant form islater or earlier than Venus and Adonis andLucrece cannot be decided. No onecould doubt the authenticity of «The Phoenix and the Turtle,» a67-line poem that appeared with other «poetical essays» (by JohnMarston, George Chapman, and Ben Jonson) appended to Robert Chester's poem Loves Martyr in 1601. The poem isattractive and memorable, but very obscure, partly because of its style andpartly because it contains allusions to real persons and situations whoseidentity can now only be guessed at.

The sonnets.

In 1609 appeared SHAKE-SPEARESSONNETS. Never before Imprinted. At this date Shakespeare was already asuccessful author, a country gentleman, and an affluent member of the mostimportant theatrical enterprise in London. How long before 1609 the sonnetswere written is unknown. The phrase «never before imprinted» may implythat they had existed for some time but were now at last printed. Two of them(nos. 138 and 144) had in fact already appeared (in a slightly different form)in an anthology, The Passionate Pilgrime (1599).Shakespeare had certainly written some sonnets by 1598, for in that year Francis Meres, in a«survey» of literature, made reference to «his sugared sonnetsamong his private friends,» but whether these «sugared sonnets»were those eventually published in 1609 cannot be ascertained--Shakespeare mayhave written other sets of sonnets, now lost. Nevertheless, the sonnetsincluded in The Passionate Pilgrime areamong his most striking and mature, so it is likely that most of the 154sonnets that appeared in the 1609 printing belong to Shakespeare's early 30srather than to his 40s--to the time when he was writing Richard II and Romeo andJuliet rather than when he was writing KingLear and Antony and Cleopatra. But,of course, some of them may belong to any year of Shakespeare's life as a poetbefore 1609.

The early plays.

Although the record of Shakespeare's earlytheatrical success is obscure, clearly the newcomer soon made himself felt. Hisbrilliant two-part play on the Wars of the Roses, The Whole Contention between the two Famous Houses, Lancaster andYorke, was among his earliest achievements. He showed, in TheComedy of Errors, howhilariously comic situations could be shot through with wonder and sentiment. InTitus Andronicus hescored a popular success with tragedy in the high Roman fashion. TheTwo Gentlemen of Verona was anew kind of romantic comedy. The world has never ceased to enjoy TheTaming of the Shrew. Love's Labour's Lost is anexperiment in witty and satirical observation of society. Romeoand Juliet combines andinterconnects a tragic situation with comedy and gaiety. All this representsthe probable achievement of Shakespeare's first half-dozen years as a writerfor the London stage, perhaps by the time he had reached 30. It showsastonishing versatility and originality.

The histories.

For his plays on subjects from English history,Shakespeare primarily drew upon RaphaelHolinshed's Chronicles, whichappeared in 1587, and on EdwardHall's earlier account of The unionof the two noble and illustre famelies of Lancastre and York (1548). Fromthese and numerous secondary sources he inherited traditional themes: thedivine right of royal succession, the need for unity and order in the realm,the evil of dissension and treason, the cruelty and hardship of war, the powerof money to corrupt, the strength of family ties, the need for humanunderstanding and careful calculation, and the power of God's providence, whichprotected his followers, punished evil, and led England toward the stability ofTudor rule.

The Roman plays.

After the last group of English history plays,Shakespeare chose to write about JuliusCaesar, who held particular fascination for the Elizabethans. Then, for sixor seven years Shakespeare did not return to a Roman theme, but, aftercompleting Macbeth and King Lear, he again used Thomas North'stranslation of Plutarch as a source for two more Roman plays, Antonyand Cleopatra and Coriolanus, both tragedies that seem as much concerned to depict the broadcontext of history as to present tragic heroes.

The «great,» or «middle,»comedies.

The comedies written between 1596 and 1602 have muchin common and are as well considered together as individually. With theexception of The Merry Wives of Windsor,all are set in some «imaginary» country. Whether called Illyria,Messina, Venice and Belmont, Athens, or the Forest of Arden, the sun shines asthe dramatist wills. A lioness, snakes, magic caskets, fairy spells, identicaltwins, disguise of sex, the sudden conversion of a tyrannous duke or the defeatoffstage of a treacherous brother can all change the course of the plot andbring the characters to a conclusion in which almost all are happy and justdeserts are found. Lovers are young and witty and almost always rich. Theaction concerns wooing; and its conclusion is marriage, beyond which theaudience is scarcely concerned. Whether Shakespeare's source was an Italiannovel (The Merchant of Venice andMuch Ado About Nothing), an English pastoral tale (AsYou Like It), an Italian comedy (the Malvolio story in TwelfthNight), or something of his own invention (probably AMidsummer Night's Dream, andparts of each), always in his hands story and sentiments are instinct withidealism and capable of magic transformations.

In some ways these are intellectual plays. Each comedyhas a multiple plot and moves from one set of characters to another, betweenwhom Shakespeare invites his audience to seek connections and explanations.Despite very different classes of people (or immortals) in different strands ofthe narrative, the plays are unified by Shakespeare's idealistic vision and byan implicit judgment of human relationships, and all their characters arebrought together--with certain significant exceptions--at, or near, the end.

The great tragedies.

It is a usual and reasonable opinion thatShakespeare's greatness is nowhere more visible than in the series oftragedies--Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. Julius Caesar, which was writtenbefore these, and Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus, which were written after, have manylinks with the four. But, because of their rather strict relationship with thehistorical materials, they are best dealt with in a group by themselves. Timonof Athens, probably writtenafter the above-named seven plays, shows signs of having been unfinished orabandoned by Shakespeare. It has its own splendours but has rarely beenconsidered equal in achievement to the other tragedies of Shakespeare'smaturity.

The «dark» comedies.

Before the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603 thecountry was ill at ease: the House of Commons became more outspoken aboutmonopolies and royal prerogative, and uncertainty about the succession to the thronemade the future of the realm unsettled. In 1603 the Plague again struck London,closing the theatres. In 1601 Shakespeare's patron, the Earl of Southampton,was arrested on charges of treason; he was subsequently released, but suchscares did not betoken confidence in the new reign. About Shakespeare's privatereaction to these events there can be only speculation, but three of the fiveplays usually assigned to these years--Troilusand Cressida, All'sWell That Ends Well, Measure for Measure--havebecome known as «dark» comedies for their distempered vision of theworld. Only during the 20th century have these plays been frequently performedin anything like Shakespeare's texts, an indication that their questioning,satiric, intense, and shifting comedy could not please earlier audiences.

The late plays.

Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest, and HenryVIII, written between 1608and 1612, are commonly known as Shakespeare's «late plays,» or his«last plays,» and sometimes, with reference to their tragicomic form,they are called his «romances.» Works written by an author in his 40shardly deserve to be classified as «late» in any critical sense, yetthese plays are often discussed as if they had been written by a venerable oldauthor, tottering on the edge of a well-earned grave. On the contrary,Shakespeare must have believed that plenty of writing years lay before him, andindeed the theatrical effectiveness and experimental nature of Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, and The Tempest in particular make them veryunlike the fatigued work of a writer about to break his staff and drown hisbook.

The contribution of textual criticism.

The early editors of Shakespeare saw their task chieflyas one of correction and regularization of the faulty printing and imperfecttexts of the original editions or their reprints. Many changes in the text ofthe quartos and folios that are now accepted derive from Nicholas Rowe (1709)and Alexander Pope (1723-25), but these editors also introduced many thousandsof small changes that have since been rejected. Later in the 18th century,editors compiled collations of alternative and rejected readings. SamuelJohnson (1765), Edward Capell (1767-68), and Edmund Malone (1790) were notablepioneers. Their work reached its most comprehensive form in the Cambridgeedition in nine volumes by W.G. Clark, J. Glover, and W.A. Wright, published in1863-66. A famous one-volume Globe edition of 1864 was based on this Cambridgetext.

Romeo and Juliet,

play by William Shakespeare, performed about 1594-95and first published in a «bad» quarto in 1597. The characters of Romeo and Juliet have been depicted inliterature, music, dance, and theatre. The appeal of the young hero andheroine--whose families, theMontagues and Capulets, respectively, are implacable enemies--is such thatthey have become, in the popular imagination, the representative type ofstar-crossed lovers.

Shakespeare's principal source for the plot was The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet(1562), a long narrative poem by the English poet Arthur Broke (d. 1563). Brokehad based his poem on a French translation of a tale by the Italian Matteo Bandello (1485-1561).

Shakespeare set the scene in Verona, Italy, duringJuly. Juliet and Romeo meet and fall instantly in love at a masked ball of theCapulets and profess their love when Romeo later visits her at her privatebalcony in her family's home. Because the two noble families are enemies, thecouple is married secretly by FriarLaurence. When Tybalt, aCapulet, kills Romeo's friend Mercutioin a quarrel, Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished to Mantua. Juliet's fatherinsists on her marrying Count Paris,and Juliet goes to consult the friar. He gives her a potion that will make herappear to be dead and proposes that she take it and that Romeo rescue her; shecomplies. Unaware of the friar's scheme, Romeo returns to Verona on hearing ofJuliet's apparent death. He encounters Paris, kills him, and finds Juliet inthe burial vault. There he gives her a last kiss and kills himself with poison.Juliet awakens, sees the dead Romeo, and kills herself. The families learn whathas happened and end their feud.

The most complex of Shakespeare's early plays, Romeo and Juliet is far more than«a play of young love» or «the world's typicallove-tragedy.» Weaving together a large number of related impressions andjudgments, it is as much about hate as love. It tells of a family and its homeas well as a feud and a tragic marriage. The public life of Verona and theprivate lives of the Veronese make up the setting for the love of Juliet andRomeo and provide the background against which their love can be assessed. Itis not the deaths of the lovers that conclude the play but the publicrevelation of what has happened, with the admonitions of the Prince and thereconciliation of the two families.

Shakespeare enriched an already old story bysurrounding the guileless mutual passion of Romeo and Juliet with the maturebawdry of the other characters--the Capulet servants Sampson and Gregory openthe play with their fantasies of exploits with the Montague women; the tonguesof the Nurse and Mercutio areseldom free from sexual matters--but the innocence of the lovers is unimpaired.

Romeo andJuliet madea strong impression on contemporary audiences. It was also one of Shakespeare'sfirst plays to be pirated; a very bad text appeared in 1597. Detestable thoughit is, this version does derive from a performance of the play, and a good dealof what was seen on stage was recorded. Two years later another version of the playappeared, issued by a different, more respectable publisher, and this isessentially the play known today, for the printer was working from a manuscriptfairly close to Shakespeare's own. Yet in neither edition did Shakespeare'sname appear on the title page, and it was only with the publication of Love's Labour's Lost in 1598 thatpublishers had come to feel that the name of Shakespeare as a dramatist, aswell as the public esteem of the company of actors to which he belonged, couldmake an impression on potential purchasers of playbooks.


WALTER EBISCH and LEVIN L. SCHÜCKING, A Shakespeare Bibliography (1931,reprinted 1968), and a supplement for the years 1930-35 (1937, reissued 1968),are comprehensive. They are updated by GORDON ROSS SMITH, A Classified Shakespeare Bibliography, 1936-1958 (1963). JAMES G.McMANAWAY, A Selective Bibliography ofShakespeare: Editions, Textual Studies, Commentary (1975), covers more than4,500 items published between 1930 and 1970, mainly in English. LARRY S.CHAMPION, The Essential Shakespeare: AnAnnotated Bibliography of Major Modern Studies, 2nd ed. (1993), includesworks in English published from 1900 through 1984. STANLEY WELLS (ed.), Shakespeare, new ed. (1990), providesbibliographies on topics ranging from the poet to the text to the performances.Shakespeare Quarterly publishes anannual classified bibliography. ShakespeareSurvey (quarterly) publishes annual accounts of «Contributions toShakespearian Study,» as well as retrospective articles on work done onparticular aspects. A selection of important scholarly essays published duringthe previous year is collected in ShakespeareanCriticism (annual).

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