Shakespeare, like Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", is a weaver. The playwright spins a web of his explicit and implicit narrative and dramatic sources, historical and cultural prompts, and other multifaceted intertexts woven into the fabric of his comedies, tragedies and histories. This study highlights some examples of largely unrecognized and sometimes subtle strands of Shakespeare's intertextual tapestries in selected plays. Such intertexts represent mostly conscious and adapted sources that when considered help to contribute fresh understandings of the plays examined.
Murray Levith analyses a number of types of Shakespearean intertextual prompts which are embedded in or cue selected works: an unrecognized dramatic source as a prompt for "The Merchant of Venice"; images in "Coriolanus" and "The Merry Wives of Windsor" likely remembered from a favourite Latin classic; "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and a quasi-historical legend; Shakespeare's use of the myth of St George and the Dragon in "Richard III" and a contemporary political prompt in "Othello"; a final chapter notes examples of Shakespeare's recycling and views :All's Well that Ends Well's" relationship to "The Taming of the Shrew."
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements; 1. Shakespeare, Intertextuality and Sources; 2. Shakespeare's Merchant and Marlowe's Other Play; 3. Two Images: Coriolanus as Marsyas and Falstaff as Actaeon; 4. A Midsummer Night's Dream and the Theseus Myth; 5. Richard III: The Dragon and St. George; 6. Iago, James VI and the Succession; 7. Shakespeare as His Own Prompt; Bibliography; Index.
Murray J. Levith is Professor of English at Skidmore College, New York, where he has taught Shakespeare for more than thirty-five years. His many publications include Shakespeare's Italian Settings and Plays (author) and A Historical Survey of Shakespeare in China (editor).