The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 04 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 463 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 04.

In the midst of such brilliant success, and with such distinguished proofs of respect and honor from his contemporaries, it would be singular indeed if Shakespeare, notwithstanding the modesty of a great mind, which he certainly possessed in a peculiar degree, should never have dreamed of posthumous fame.  As a profound thinker he had quite accurately taken the measure of the circle of human capabilities, and he could say to himself with confidence that many of his productions would not easily be surpassed.  What foundation then is there for the contrary assertion, which would degrade the immortal artist to the situation of a daily laborer for a rude multitude?  Merely this, that he himself published no edition of his whole works.  We do not reflect that a poet, always accustomed to labor immediately for the stage, who has often enjoyed the triumph of overpowering assembled crowds of spectators and drawing from them the most tumultuous applause, who the while was not dependent on the caprice of crotchety stage directors, but left to his own discretion to select and determine the mode of theatrical representation, naturally cares much less for the closet of the solitary reader.  During the first formation of a national theatre, more especially, we find frequent examples of such indifference.  Of the almost innumerable pieces of Lope de Vega, many undoubtedly were never printed, and are consequently lost; and Cervantes did not print his earlier dramas, though he certainly boasts of them as meritorious works.  As Shakespeare, on his retiring from the theatre, left his manuscripts behind with his fellow-managers, he may have relied on theatrical tradition for handing them down to posterity, which would indeed have been sufficient for that purpose if the closing of the theatres, under the tyrannical intolerance of the Puritans, had not interrupted the natural order of things.  We know, besides, that the poets used then to sell the exclusive copyright of their pieces to the theatre:[20] it is therefore not improbable that the right of property in his unprinted pieces was no longer vested in Shakespeare, or had not, at least, yet reverted to him.  His fellow-managers entered on the publication seven years after his death (which probably cut short his own intention), as it would appear on their own account and for their own advantage.

LECTURE XXIII

Ignorance or Learning of Shakespeare—­Costume as observed by Shakespeare, and how far necessary, or may be dispensed with in the Drama—­Shakespeare the greatest drawer of Character—­Vindication of the genuineness of his pathos—­Play on words—­Moral delicacy—­Irony—­Mixture of the Tragic and Comic—­The part of the Fool or Clown—­Shakespeare’s Language and Versification.

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The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 04 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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