History of English Literature is a comprehensive, eight-volume survey of English literature from the Middle Ages to the early twenty-first century. This reference work provides insightful and often revisionary readings of core texts in the English literary canon. Richly informative analyses are framed by the biographical, historical and intellectual context for each author.
Volume 2 offers a general assessment of all of Shakespeare’s works, summarizes the critical reception since its onset, traces a tentative biography of the playwright, discusses the youthful poems and the sonnets, and analyses the plays one by one. The plays are divided into the traditional thematic and chronological subsets – such as historical dramas, comedies, tragedies and romances – but they are further assessed in terms of their «experimental» or «mature» characteristics.