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The Rise of Bardolatry in the Restoration

Paratexts of Shakespearean Adaptations and other Texts 1660–1737

Enrico Scaravelli

This book explores from a new perspective the adaptations of Shakespeare in the Restoration, and how they contributed to the rise of the cult of the National Poet in an age where his reputation was not yet consolidated. Adaptations are fully independent cultural items, whose paratexts play a crucial role in the development of Bardolatry; their study initially follows seminal works of Bakhtin and Genette, but the main theoretical background is anthropology, with the groundbreaking theories of Mary Douglas.
The many voices that feature the paratexts of the adaptations and the other texts, such as those of John Dryden, Thomas Betterton, William Davenant, Nahum Tate, John Dennis, and many others, create a composite choir where the emerging sacrality of the cult of the Bard was just one of the tunes, in an age when Shakespeare has not yet become Shakespeare.


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I want to express my deepest and sincerest gratitude to Fernando Cioni (University of Florence) for his steady support and the invaluable help he has always offered me throughout my postdoctoral years, and to Alessan- dro Serpieri (also from the University of Florence) whose early lesson will always be relevant. I am also indebted to the staff of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, the Biblioteca Marucelliana, and the various libraries of Humanities of the University of Florence. I wish to thank Ann Thompson (King’s College London) for a splen- did seminar on the afterlife of Hamlet, and Sonia Massai (also from the King’s College London) for the insightful observations she offered me when this study was still in its infancy. I am also indebted to the staff of the British Library, the King’s College Library, and the Senate House Library. I would like to thank Kent Cartwright (University of Maryland) for the insightful suggestions he so kindly gave me some time ago, Virgina Vaughan (Clark University) for her observations on The Tempest, and Walter Cannon for his information on John Milton. I am also indebted to the staff of the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Library of Congress. Finally, I thank with all my heart all those who, during my postdoc- toral years, were close to me personally and professionally. This book is the fruit of those hard years, and is dedicated to them.

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