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Shakespeare and Lost Plays
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Book description

Shakespeare and Lost Plays returns Shakespeare's dramatic work to its most immediate and (arguably) pivotal context; by situating it alongside the hundreds of plays known to Shakespeare's original audiences, but lost to us. David McInnis reassesses the value of lost plays in relation to both the companies that originally performed them, and to contemporary scholars of early modern drama. This innovative study revisits key moments in Shakespeare's career and the development of his company and, by prioritising the immense volume of information we now possess about lost plays, provides a richer, more accurate picture of dramatic activity than has hitherto been possible. By considering a variety of ways to grapple with the problem of lost, imperceptible, or ignored texts, this volume presents a methodology for working with lacunae in archival evidence and the distorting effect of Shakespeare-centric narratives, thus reinterpreting our perception of the field of early modern drama.


‘This is an exceptionally innovative book championing the brand new methodologies and discoveries associated with lost plays that the author and his collaborators have brought to the profession. It would be hard to think of a more groundbreaking work than this, and it will be necessary reading for all scholars of early modern drama, any cultural historians who find themselves confronting the issue of evidential loss, as well as students of these various fields.’

Andy Kesson - University of Roehampton, London

‘This is a well-conceived, skilfully argued, and constantly astonishing book. Its object is to insist on the importance of a study of lost plays so as better to understand the canonical plays we have been too complacent about. It will impact substantially on Shakespeare studies, on Early Modern theatre studies more widely, on authorship determination, and on more general literary and historical studies. Shakespeare and Lost Plays is an outstanding publication.’

David Carnegie Source: Victoria University of Wellington

‘A fascinating work of literary detection.'

Gordon Parsons Source: Morning Star

‘The moments of brilliant speculation about enigmas such as Spanish Maze and Felmelanco are the heart of McInnis’s work because they display not only superb research skills but also impressive synaptic leaps; at such moments, one feels one is reading both a scholar and a poet. Overall, this is a wonderful book that opens the imagination and proves the vitality and the value of the study of lost plays.’

David Nicol Source: British Shakespeare Association's Journal

'Anyone interested in researching historical writing, English or otherwise, would benefit from reading this book, to help us deal with the loss of sources, and to learn how to complicate and enrich our reading and understanding of the texts that did survive.'

Sonja Kleij Source: English Studies

‘McInnis’s study is generous and hopefully generative, and it deserves the kind of careful engagement it offers to its subject. McInnis sheds light on understudied plays and he finds exciting connections, never before identified, some of which in turn allow for a different perspective on individual Shakespeare plays and on his career and early afterlife. But above all, McInnis models an approach to scholarship that promises to yield further insights. This refreshing book, which balances meticulous attention to detail with imagination and creativity, deserves to be widely read.’

Eoin Price Source: Early Theatre

‘The potential impact of McInnis’s ground-breaking study is unlikely to be lost on readers … Shakespeare and Lost Plays opens up numerous explorative avenues for future investigations, and I have no doubt that it will be preserved in the annals of academic history as a seminal work’

Source: Bücherschau

‘This is a productive and helpful enterprise, which McInnis reaches through a series of skillful, careful, and innovative readings … This refreshing book, which balances meticulous attention to detail with imagination and creativity, deserves to be widely read. That the book is relatively inexpensive for a new academic hardback should help it get the attention it deserves.’

Eoin Price Source: Early Theatre

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  • Chapter 1 - Charting the Landscape of Loss
    pp 27-57


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