Performed Not Read, Revisited I link to this one for the second book’s description: The traditional view of Shakespeare is that he was a man of the theatre who showed no interest in the printing of his plays, producing works that are only fully realised in performance. This view has recently been challenged by critics arguing that Shakespeare was a literary ‘poet-playwright’, concerned with his readers as well as his audiences. Hurray!  Finally a retort to all those “You do know the works are meant to be performed, not read” people!

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5 thoughts on “Performed Not Read, Revisited

  1. There's NO doubt he was literary–and anyone arguing he was totally theater-oriented is going to have a hard time supporting that, given that he wrote a large amount of sonnets and several longer poems, & dedicated a lot of them to people who were involved in literary circles of the court.
    However, I still subscribe that the plays (as opposed to anything else he wrote) were generally meant to be performed, rather than read. I don't agree with the extremists who think you should never ever read a play before you see it; I just think you should keep in mind the theatricality of it when you do, & I think that they're best instinctively understood when they're staged.
    I'm also not sure about Shakespeare's involvement in printing his own plays…I've always thought he didn't have a lot of interest in that, but I could be wrong & I'd love to read something more about that!

  2. Hey now, if that kind of thinking is good enough for our vice presidential candidate, then it’s good enough for….. wait… :-/

  3. I agree with Ren Girl. The plays are plays. If he had meant them to be published, perhaps we wouldn’t have had to depend on Condell and Hemmings to cobble together the disparate pieces. If we have no definitive versions of the plays, it’s because Will himself did not trouble to publish – as opposed to his sonnets, which were his “serious” works.

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