The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0443  Friday, 15 February 2002

From:           Jack Heller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 14 Feb 2002 20:24:57 -0500
Subject: 13.0416 Re: "Reading" the Plays
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0416 Re: "Reading" the Plays

Unfortunately, the college where I work does little to encourage
research, and there is certainly no research library nearby. But this
question of reading the plays has interested me for a while. So, if I
were going to go further with the question . . .

I would start with Aristotle, and work backwards and forwards. Clearly,
Aristotle treats drama as poetry, and one does not go far into the
Poetics before he's discussing/contrasting tragedy, comedy, and epic.
His audience seems broader than Greek dramatists, so there we have an
ancient notion of drama for reading. So trace Aristotle's sources (and I
suppose including Plato, though I don't have him here) and we'd have the
beginnings--or better to say, the earliest significant expressions of
the ideas of plays to be read (or committed to memory) as well as

Jumping forward to the early modern period, I would try to see whether
the publication of the plays dating to the 1510s coincides with a
revival of interest in, or new publications of, Aristotle. I would also
investigate the front matter of those earliest plays, all of which I
think are still extant. Finding out who the printers were, and the
patrons, may help greatly in creating a plausible theory, if not
necessarily a definitive answer.

Jack Heller

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