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William Shakespeare | Shakespeare and Clarissa: 'General Nature',
Genre and Sexuality

This literature criticism consists of approximately 37 pages of analysis & critique of William Shakespeare.
This section contains 10,820 words
(approx. 37 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Shakespeare and Clarissa: 'General Nature', Genre and Sexuality

Martin Scofield, University of Kent

I. Universality and Difference

Most critics in the eighteenth century, unlike academic critics today, were confident of at least one assumption about great literature: that the truths it embodied were universal and that, in the words of Dr Johnson in his Preface to Shakespeare, 'Nothing can please many and please long but just representations of general nature.' It is a view which depends of course on even more basic assumptions—that there is such an entity as 'general nature' (or at least that the category is useful); and that in turn there is such an entity (or meaningful category) as 'human nature'—a certain intrinsic 'humanness' which remains in some way constant despite variations from country to country and race to race, and despite the changes in behaviour over time. But while it...

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This section contains 10,820 words
(approx. 37 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Shakespeare and Clarissa: 'General Nature', Genre and Sexuality