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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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3 Paratext II: The Epitext

Extract



3.1 Introductory Remarks

If Genette’s vast category of the paratext is subdivided into its constituent parts – the peritext and epitext – even when considering only the quantitative data, it is clear that the latter has attracted far more attention among scholars. In their seminal studies on Shakespearean criticism, John Munro284 and Augustus Ralli285 demonstrated that epitexts are, in fact, predominant, whereas peritexts are rarely found, if not altogether absent. In the 1970s, Brian Vickers subsequently attempted to rectify this lacuna,286 and this book is a further step in the same direction.

In the present chapter, my purpose is to complete the review of the paratexts with more instances of bardolatry belonging to the field of epitext. Despite the fairly regular frequentation of this category by literary critics, I have decided to include it for completeness sake, hopefully integrating it with new or relatively unknown texts.

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