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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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The following tables give the most important information for each ad- aptation. The first set of information consists of the title of the original Shakespearean play, the name of the adaptation, and the name of the adapter; the second set deals with the adaptation’s first stage representa- tion, identifying its date, place, company and main actors; the third set contains information pertaining to the first printed edition, recording date, place, and printer; the last set provides an act-by-act summary of the adaptation’s plot. When dates are uncertain, they appear in square brackets. The last set of tables will help to highlight the similarities and differences emerging from the comparison of the plot of the adaptation and Shakespeare’s original (not provided here) – something that has been done only for the most successful adaptations. The information in the first and third sets derives principally from the adaptation’s paratext. The main texts used for collecting information for the second set are the first three volumes of London Stage, and, for plays after 1700, Charles Beecher Hogan’s study titled Shakespeare in the Theatre.476 The original spelling and abbraviations of seventeen and eighteenth centuries have been retained. The present study has also drawn upon George C. D. Odell’s Shakespeare from Betterton to Irving,477 and John Genest’s Some Account of the English Stage.478 The plot is obviously resumed directly from the play itself. The layout, with the first sets of information on one page facing the plot on the other, is aimed at conveying all...

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