Shakespeare, National Poet-Playwright

Shakespeare, National Poet-Playwright is an important book which reassesses Shakespeare as a poet and dramatist. Patrick Cheney contests critical preoccupation with Shakespeare as ‘a man of the theatre’ by recovering his original standing as an early modern author: he is a working dramatist who composes some of the most extraordinary poems in English. The book accounts for this form of authorship by reconstructing the historical preconditions for its emergence, in England as in Europe, including the building of the commercial theatres and the consolidation of the printing press. Cheney traces the literary origin to Shakespeare’s favourite author, Ovid, who wrote the Amores and Metamorphoses alongside the tragedy Medea. Cheney also examines Shakespeare\'s literary relations with his contemporary authors Edmund Spenser and Christopher Marlowe. The book concentrates on Shakespeare’s freestanding poems, but makes frequent reference to the plays, and ranges widely through the work of other Renaissance writers.

• Presents a comprehensive approach to Shakespeare’s professional career, both his poems and his plays, within a nationalist setting • Includes an inset study of Shakespeare’s poems • Includes a sustained analysis of Shakespeare’s literary relations with his contemporary authors Edmund Spenser and Christopher Marlowe and also with classical authors Ovid and Virgil


List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Note on texts; Proem: Shakespeare’s ‘Plaies and Poems’; Part I. The Imprint of Shakespearean Authorship: Prelude: Shakespeare, Cervantes, Petrarch; 1. The sixteenth-century poet-playwright; 2. Francis Meres, the Ovidian poet-playwright, and Shakespeare criticism; Part II. 1593–1594: The Print Author Presents Himself: Play Scene: \'Two Gentlemen\' to \'Richard III\'; 3. Authorship and acting: plotting Venus and Adonis along the Virgilian path; 4. Publishing the show: The Rape of Lucrece as Lucanian counter-epic of empire; Part III. 1599–1601: The Author Brought Into Print: Play Scene: \'Love’s Labor’s Lost\' to \'Troilus and Cressida\'; 5. ‘Tales … coined\': ‘W. Shakespeare’ in Jaggard’s The Passionate Pilgrim; 6. ‘Threne’ and ‘scene’: the author’s relics of immortality in ‘The Phoenix and Turtle’; Part IV. 1609: Imprinting the Question of Authorship: Play Scene: \'Measure for Measure\' to \'Coriolanus\'; 7. ‘O, let my books be … dumb presagers’: poetry and theatre in the sonnets; 8. ‘Deep-brain’d sonnets’ and ‘tragic shows’: Shakespeare’s late Ovidian art in A Lover’s Complaint; Epilogue. Ariel and Autolycus: Shakespeare’s counter-laureate authorship; Works cited; Index.