Introduction to Shakespeare Literature

Thirty-two eulogies were printed and published about Sir Francis Bacon when he died in 1626, ten years after Shakespeare. The death of Shakespeare was apparently marked by a resounding silence.

Sir Francis, the Baron Verulam, probably deserved every word of praise. King James’ Lord Chancellor was known throughout Europe as a great and original mind, even a genius, though posterity sees error in quite a few of his choicest ‘scientific’ reasonings.

Shakespeare, today, is renowned around the world as the great dramatic poet and a ‘playmaker’ genius whose 36 plays (created over possibly a 27 year period; several more arguably attributed to him also) are now deservedly translated into more than 40 languages.

No other nation has produced such a phenomenon. He is accepted as timeless and as universal, “not for an age but for all time”. The greatness and the legacy speak for themselves: comedy and humour, tragedy and pain, history and stirring declamations, refinement and bawdiness, universality and evil, stupidity and sensitive perceptiveness … and all played and depicted on the static, scenery-less stage.

Each play has its own universe, its own pervading atmosphere, each one different to another” is one London teacher’s insight into his Works. One theatre author of today believes that his flexibility of mind and the marvellous many-sided nature of his creative imagination is well displayed in the Canon’s 12 contrasting themes, wide divergences of mood, and the writing achievement over such a short period of time.

Though in honest appraisal, the equally knowledgeable in theatre and the literary world will murmur that not every part of every play is perfect, far from it; in fact, a “Shakespeare text” today is “an unstable, contrived product” having been through many intermediaries, with many departures from the master’s original ‘first performance’ manuscript. The intriguing question is: just who might he have collaborated with, especially in the early years (say 1585 -1595).

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