The World is a Page: "Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist" by Lukas Erne

— feeling big smile
Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist - Lukas Erne

Published 2013 (2nd Edition).


Table of Contents:


Preface to the second edition



Part I. Publication:

  1. The legitimation of printed playbooks in Shakespeare’s time
  2. The making of ‘Shakespeare’
  3. Shakespeare and the publication of his plays (I): the late sixteenth century
  4. Shakespeare and the publication of his plays (II): the early seventeenth century
  5. The players’ alleged opposition to print


Part II. Texts:

  1. Why size matters: ‘the two hours’ traffic of our stage’ and the length of Shakespeare’s plays
  2. Editorial policy and the length of Shakespeare’s plays
  3. ‘Bad quartos’ and their origins: Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, and Hamlet
  4. Theatricality, literariness, and the texts of Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, and Hamlet


Appendix A: The plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in print, 1584–1623

Appendix B: Heminge and Condell’s ‘Stolne, and surreptitious copies’ and the Pavier quartos

Appendix C: Shakespeare and the circulation of dramatic manuscripts


“Whose Shakespeare? Does he belong to the theater or to the academy, is he of the stage or of the page, should we watch him or read him? These are false dichotomies, but the realization that they are false does not mean we can easily escape them. [ ] I argue that the long play texts Shakespeare wrote for many of his tragedies and histories are significantly different from and longer than the play texts spoken by the actors on stage, and that Shakespeare knew so as he was writing them. To call the shorter version “theatrical” and the longer “literary,” as I do in Shakespeare as a Literary Dramatist, is right in that “theatrical” and “literary” refer to the two institutions in which Shakespeare saw his plays materialize, the public theatre and the book trade.”


With this extremely simple statement at the beginning of his book, I was hooked, line and sinker!




On a side note, Erne’s hypothesis is strangely absent from Wells’ and Taylor’s Textual Companion (through ThemisAthena's courtesy I was made aware of this volume, and what a wonderful edition it was to my Shakespeare's library).


The rest of this review can be read elsewhere.