<i>‘to please the wiser sort’</i>
Shakespeare’s other (smarter) audience
in Shakespeare for the wiser sort
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Over the past four hundred years an enormous community of scholars have heeded assiduously John Hemminges's and Henry Condell's advice. They have read and reread William Shakespeare, edited his language, modernized his punctuation, parsed usages, debated intentions, and analyzed his words with tests: syntactical, historical, linguistical, and digital. There's a convenient example of Shakespeare writing for a tiny clique in Julius Caesar, the tragedy he purpose-wrote to christen the new Bankside Globe in 1599. Shakespeare composed his Roman tragedy for the delectation of a mass audience who shared a common appetite to see a tyrant ridiculed and slain. But Shakespeare also wrote into this play more than one passage intelligible only to that handful of the wiser sort who had read Plutarch and knew their Suetonius.

Shakespeare for the wiser sort

Solving Shakespeare’s riddles in The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, King John, 1–2 Henry IV, The Merchant of Venice, Henry V, Julius Caesar, Othello, Macbeth and Cymberline

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