William Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage Volume 5 1765-1774
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First published in 1995. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
prosperity. Thus rose the two modes of imitation known by the names of tragedy and comedy, compositions intended to promote different ends by contrary means, and considered as so little allied that I do not recollect among the Greeks or Romans a single writer who attempted both.1 3 See 2.283. See 2.55ff. 5 See Dissertation sur la tragédie ancienne et moderne (1748), in Voltaire on Shakespeare, ed. Theodore Besterman (Geneva, 1967), p. 57. The passage is translated by Arthur Murphy n 4.91. 6 See
not only corrupted many passages perhaps beyond recovery, but have brought others into suspicion which are only obscured by obsolete phraseology, or by the writer’s unskilfulness and affectation. To alter is more easy than to explain, and temerity is a more common quality than diligence. Those who saw that they must employ conjecture to a certain degree, were willing to indulge it a little further. Had the authour published his own works we should have sat quietly down to disentangle his
all the Virtues and Vices of the peculiar Stile of its Author. It speaks, perhaps, of Shakespeare’s Beauties too sparingly, and of his Faults too hardly; but it contains, nevertheless, much Truth, good sense, and just Criticism. 1 2 Cf. 2.403. Cf. 2.481. 207. William Kenrick, Johnson attacked 1765 Texts: (a) on the Preface, from the Monthly Review, xxxiii, pp. 285–301 and 374–89 (October, November 1765); (b) on the Notes, from Kenrick, A Review of Doctor Johnson’s New Edition of Shakespeare:
doubt of his reforming zeal, or, destructive intent. He was encouraged in the process by George Steevens (No. 235) who, as we will see, seems to have had a special animus towards Hamlet, Garrick certainly meant what he said by cutting ‘almost all’ of the fifth act: of the 1,002 lines remaining in Shakespeare’s play from the point at which my excerpt begins below, Garrick deletes 898, leaving 104, and adds 37 lines of his own. This makes an amazing difference to the play, as every reader can see.
death or burial), which Claudius stops by setting his guards on Hamlet, who promptly stabs him. Gertrude runs offstage in a fit of madness, ‘Hamlet runs upon Laertes’s sword and falls’, but reconciles Horatio and Laertes before he dies. Fortinbras, needless to say, does not return. Professor Stone notes that the adaptation ‘held the stage for eight years and was played thirty-seven times’, Garrick receiving ‘during his four remaining years on the stage £3,426.14.10 for this alteration alone.