Introduction
in French reflections in the Shakespearean tragic
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This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book. The book extends the approach developed in French Origins of English Tragedy through a series of more sustained explorations centred on three plays of William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra and All's Well That Ends Well. The basic difficulty is the overwhelming dominance of Plutarch's Life of Antony as the source of Shakespeare's play and all the significant prior dramatic 'sources' and 'analogues', as diligently assembled by Geoffrey Bullough, from G. B. Geraldi Cinthio's Cleopatra to Samuel Daniel's. A series of discussions of All's Well, a play that pushes broadly in the direction of French knowledge, illustrates the staying power of the idea of Shakespeare's rudimentary competence. By means of its generic disclaimers, All's Well may purport to reassure an audience, freeing it from, amongst other burdens, that of political engagement.

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