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Shakespeare's Early Readers
  • Jean-Christophe Mayer, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier

Book description

Who were Shakespeare's first readers and what did they think of his works? Offering the first dedicated account of the ways in which Shakespeare's texts were read in the centuries during which they were originally produced, Jean-Christophe Mayer reconsiders the role of readers in the history of Shakespeare's rise to fame and in the history of canon formation. Addressing an essential formative 'moment' when Shakespeare became a literary dramatist, this book explores six crucial fields: literacy; reading and life-writing; editing Shakespeare's text; marking Shakespeare for the theatre; commonplacing; and passing judgement. Through close examination of rare material, some of which has never been published before, and covering both the marks left by readers in their books and early manuscript extracts of Shakespeare, Mayer demonstrates how the worlds of print and performance overlapped at a time when Shakespeare offered a communal text, the ownership of which was essentially undecided.

Reviews

‘This is a rich, considered, intelligent and engaging study, supported by meticulous and wide-ranging research … I commend Professor Mayer on what he has achieved here. His own readers will thank him for the work he has done and I wish his book a long shelf life (with many readers scribbling merrily in its margins).'

Andrew Murphy - University of St Andrews, Scotland

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