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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: April 2020

Introduction - Beginning with Shakespeare

Summary

The Introduction first outlines the grounds for the collection’s dating parameters for ‘early Shakespeare’. It then discusses what a category such as ‘early’ or ‘late’ might mean for someone with Shakespeare’s long career, and how such temporally bound categories can condition critical responses. Next, it considers the many variables in play in Shakespeare’s early canon, discussing these with relation to the value ascribed to these works. The chapter then reflects upon how most readers of Shakespeare begin somewhere in the middle of the collected works, with super-canonical works like Twelfth Night and Hamlet, before, if ever, working to the margins of the canon where the early works reside. It concludes with brief summaries of each of the chapters in the collection, noting how contributors shed significant new light upon the formative part of Shakespeare’s career.