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Shakespeare’s Refashioning Of His Source Material Was Utterly Drastic. One Of The Excitements Of Criticism Is To Compare What He Stole With What He Made Of It” Nevill Coghill Notes

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This is an extract of our Shakespeare’s Refashioning Of His Source Material Was Utterly Drastic. One Of The Excitements Of Criticism Is To Compare What He Stole With What He Made Of It” Nevill Coghill document, which we sell as part of our Shakespeare Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford University students.

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"Shakespeare's

refashioning

of

his

source

material

was

utterly

drastic.

One


of

the

excitements

of

criticism

is

to

compare

what

he

stole

with

what

he


made

of

it"

Nevill

Coghill


Shakespeare's

use

of

source

material

has

been

termed

the

"elephant

graveyard"


of

criticism

(Greenblatt)

and

it

is

certainly

an

extraordinarily

large

field.

One

only


has

to

look

at

Bullough's

many

volumes

to

see

this.

More

importantly

however,


investigating

Shakespeare's

work

retrospectively,

characterizing

him

as

a

'thief'


of

sources

we

cannot

guarantee

he

may

have

read

and

even

when

he

may

of

read


them

is

not

perhaps

the

best

form

of

criticism.

Firstly,

because

of

the

sheer


economical

demand

for

new

plays

and

the

tastes

of

the

age,

it

is

not

surprising


that

Shakespeare

looked

to

his

predecessors

for

material.

Secondly,

this

was

not


a

trait

that

was

singular

to

Shakespeare,

both

playwrights,

poets

and

even


political

writers

looked

to

antiquity

for

inspiration

and

so

analyzing


Shakespeare'

use

of

sources

does

not

contribute,

as

other

forms

of

investigation


might,

to

understanding

his

own

dramatic

art

rather

than

a

more

general


Renaissance

trend.

What

is

guaranteed

however,

is

that

Shakespeare

read

his


own

plays

and

that

he

was

actively

aware

and

engaged

in

contemporary

issues.


His

reshaping

of

his

own

material,

his

reaction

to

political

affairs,

and

to

the


needs

of

his

audience

reveals

more

precisely

the

type

of

dramatist

that


Shakespeare

was.


Shakespeare's

Late

Plays

naturally

contained

more

instances

of

re--use

than

the


earlier

plays

and

as

given

their

position

in

the

Shakespeare

canon,

offer

a

useful


view

of

Shakespeare's

dramatic

art

and

use

of

material.

Glynne

Wickham

in

his


article

on

Tragi--comedy

suggests

that

King

Lear

()is

a

prologue

to

these

later

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