Shakespeare and the Eighteenth-Century Miscellany
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Poetic miscellanies have been almost entirely neglected in studies of Shakespeare’s textual transmission and canonical rise. And yet, during the eighteenth century alone, more than 850 fragments of Shakespearean texts were inserted into the century’s miscellanies: each has a textual history that reshapes our understanding of how his texts were circulated, appropriated and read. Through quantitative analysis and comparative close readings, Christopher Salamone investigates patterns in the form, quantity and selection of Shakespeare's texts, exposing the editorial methods by which compilers came to terms with changing cultural conceptions of Shakespeare. Offering readers a buffet of literary extracts, compilers selected isolated and often indexed passages suitable for those wishing to dip into only the pithiest, most eloquent and most useful Shakespearean snippets. Today, many readers also experience Shakespeare in fragments, through soliloquys and specific phrases or couplets that are so well known as to be considered commonplace. Salamone traces the role that eighteenth-century miscellanies played in making Shakespeare's works part of the discourse of everyday life.
Christopher Salamone is a lecturer at Mansfield College, University of Oxford, UK.