Book

Shakespeare's Letters

Alan Stewart

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780199549276
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191701504 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199549276.001.0001
Shakespeare's Letters

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William Shakespeare's plays are stuffed with letters — 111 appear on stage in all but five of his dramas. But for modern actors, directors, and critics they are frequently an awkward embarrassment. This book shows how and why Shakespeare put letters on stage in virtually all of his plays. By reconstructing the very different uses to which letters were put in Shakespeare's time, and recapturing what it meant to write, send, receive, read, and archive a letter, this book throws new light on some of his most familiar dramas. Early modern letters were not private missives sent through an anonymous postal system, but a vital — sometimes the only — means of maintaining contact and sending news between distant locations. Penning a letter was a serious business in a period when writers made their own pen and ink; letter-writing protocols were strict; letters were dispatched by personal messengers or carriers, often received and read in public — and Shakespeare exploited all these features to dramatic effect. Surveying the vast range of letters in Shakespeare's oeuvre, the book also features sustained new readings of Hamlet, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, The Merchant of Venice, and Henry IV Part One.

Keywords: William Shakespeare; Shakespeare's letters; Hamlet; King Lear; Anthony and Cleopatra; The Merchant of Venice; Henry IV Part One

Book.  424 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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Table of Contents

Shakespeare's Roman Letters in Shakespeare's Letters

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Shakespeare and the Carriers in Shakespeare's Letters

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Rewriting Hamlet in Shakespeare's Letters

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Postscript in Shakespeare's Letters

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