February 13th

The notebooks of Cleanth Brooks, who would help to inaugurate the critical practice we now refer to as New Criticism, record the critic’s passing thoughts and fragments on Shakespeare from the lecture course he took on Shakespeare while at Exeter College in Oxford, in 1929. Brooks’s is a Shakespeare measurably different from the Shakespeare enjoyed by Dowse or derided by Greene and Marston: “Shakespeare not bothered about form so long as he got results,” Brooks writes. “For that reason must be careful to distinguish what is Shakespeare and what is merely traditional.” “Elizabethan drama founded on crude melodrama.” “Classical method not Shakespeare’s normal method.” “Most of Elizabethans made mistakes.”

It is a Shakespeare produced by the close scrutiny of study, and one, as well, who has been usefully illuminated by the narratives of Holinshed: “Preserves chronological order–follows Holinshed very closely.”


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