Halleck's New English Literature eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 629 pages of information about Halleck's New English Literature.


Taming of the 2649 516 1971 169 15 —–­ 1623 1596-7
Troilus and 3496 1186 2025 196 —–­ 16 1609 1603
Timon of 2373 596 1560 184 18 —–­ 1623 1607-8
Pericles 2389 418 1436 225 89 —–­ 1609[23]1608-9[24]
Henry VIII. 2822 67? 2613 16 —–­ 12 1623 1610-12[24]

Poems published.—­Venus and Adonis, 1593; Lucrece, 1594; Passionate Pilgrim, 1599; Phoenix and Turtle in Chester’s Loves Martyr, 1601; Sonnets, 1609, with A Lover’s Complaint.

Shakespeare recognized the greatness of North’s Plutarch and paid it the compliment of following its thought more closely than that of any other of his sources.

Shakespeare found suggestions for As You Like It in Thomas Lodge’s contemporary novel Rosalynde, but Touchstone and Adam are original creations.

Our astonishment is often increased to find that the merest hint led to an imperishable creation, such as the character of Lady Macbeth, the reference to whom in Holinshed is confined to these twenty-eight words, “...specially his wife lay sore upon him to attempt the thing, as she that was very ambitious, burning in unquenchable desire to bear the name of a queen.”  His plays are almost as different from the old chronicles or tales as the rose from the soil which nourished it.

[Illustration:  SHAKESPEARE—­THE D’AVENANT BUST. Discovered in 1845 on site of Duke’s Theater.]


Sympathy.—–­His most pronounced characteristic is the broadest sympathy ever shown by an author.  He seems to have been able to sympathize with every kind of human soul in every emergency.  He plays with the simple rustics in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The portrait of the serving man Adam, in As You Like It, is as kindly and as discriminating as that of king or nobleman.  Though he is the scholar and philosopher in Hamlet, he can afterward roam the country with the tramp Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale.  Women have marveled at the ease with which his sympathy crosses the barriers of sex, at his portraits of Portia, Rosalind, Desdemona, Lady Macbeth, Miranda, Cleopatra, and Cordelia.  Great actresses have testified to their amazement at his discovery of feminine secrets which they had thought no man could ever divine.

[Illustration:  HENRY IRVING AS HAMLET.]

Universality.—­Shakespeare’s sympathy might have been broad enough to include all the people of his own time and their peculiar interests, but might have lacked the power to project itself into the universal heart of humanity.  Sometimes a writer voices the ideals and aspirations of his own day so effectively that he is called the spokesman of his age, but he makes slight appeal to future generations.  Shakespeare was the spokesman of his own time, but he had the genius also to speak to all ages.  He loved to present the eternal truths of the human heart and to invest them with such a touch of nature as to reveal the kinship of the entire world.

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Halleck's New English Literature from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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