Shakespeare’s book

Essays in reading, writing and reception

Editors:
Richard Meek
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Jane Rickard
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Richard Wilson
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This book examines Shakespeare's works in relation to different contexts of production and reception. Several of the chapters explore Shakespeare's relationship with actual printers, patrons and readers, while others consider the representation of writing, reading and print within his works themselves. The collection gives us glimpses into different Shakespeares: Shakespeare the man who lived and worked in Elizabethan and Jacobean London; Shakespeare the author of the works attributed to him; and 'Shakespeare', the construction of his colleagues, printers and readers. In examining these Shakespeares, and the interactions, overlaps and disjunctions between them, the chapters offer different conceptions of Shakespearean 'authorship'. Some chapters try to trace Shakespeare as the creative force behind his works, charting, for example, what variations between different editions of the same play might tell us about his processes of composition. Others focus on the ways in which Shakespeare was the product of a particular historical and cultural moment, and of the processes of publishing and reading. What all of the contributors share, however, is a sense of the importance of books – the books Shakespeare read, the books he represented within his works, the books within which his works were first read – to our understanding of Shakespeare's cultural significance for his contemporaries and for us.

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