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A HISTORY OF ENGLISH NATIONAL DRAMA
TO THE RETIREMENT OF SHAKESPEARE

BY

C. F. TUCKER BROOKE, B. Litt. (OxoN.)

PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH IN YALE UNIVERSITY
SENIOR DEMY OF MAGDALEN
COLLEGE, OXFORD

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PREFACE

The following pages have grown out of a series of lectures on "The Sources of the Elizabethan Drama," given in 1908 at Magdalen College, Oxford. To the members of that society are due the author's grateful acknowledgments for stimulus and opportunity. In the present volume very few words remain as they were first written. The scope of the book has been considerably broadened and its commencement pushed back beyond the reign of Elizabeth. It is believed, however, that the point of view expressed in the title of the lectures has been retained, and it is hoped that the original aim of tracing the genesis and development of the various types of Tudor drama will be found still to justify the method of treatment.

It is probably not hard to defend the chronological limits and the title of this essay. There would seem to be a practical convenience in a treatment commencing with the earliest evidences of English national drama and closing with the highest accomplishment of that drama in the work of Shakespeare. Nor does it appear a gross exaggeration to include this entire evolution within the confines of "The Tudor Drama"; for though most of the specimens discussed in the first two chapters had their original inception in the century before the Tudor era began, there can be no doubt that they still remained at the opening of our period the most characteristic expressions of English dramatic genius, and that their consideration belongs justly therefore to the history of Tudor culture.

The course of our study brings the orbit of English dramatic criticism to its perihelion in the examination of Shakespeare, the central sun, and those dramatic satellites who most closely share his attitude toward life and art. It would be an alluring task to trace this orbit still farther, through the clearly connected Jacobean, Caroline, and Restoration phases to its aphelion at the close of the Stuart epoch. But the consideration of Stuart drama in its entirety offers scope for another volume, and the temptation to stray beyond the logical line of demarcation has here been resisted, except where the individual work of Shakespeare forms for some nine years a kind of Tudor enclave in the midst of Jacobean literature.

The bibliographies appended to the various chapters have been arranged with the idea of placing directly before the reader's attention all the essential literature of the subjects under discussion. Absolute technical completeness in this matter seems beyond the range of a work which aspires to the notice of the undergraduate student and the general reader. However, the bibliographies have been independently compiled; and, except in the case of Shakespeare, no editions or commentaries have been intentionally omitted which appear to possess any present-day importance. Shakespearean texts and criticisms are so numerous and so abundantly catalogued already, that it has here been thought injudicious to go beyond the simple indication of the important early editions of each play. The admirable and very recent Shakespeare bibliography in the fifth volume of the "Cambridge History of English Literature" leaves little to be desired, and any recapitulation of its results on the smaller scale suited to this book would be a useless impertinence.

To my friends, Professor W. L. Phelps and Professor H. N. MacCracken of Yale University, I have the pleasure of expressing my most hearty thanks for various helpful suggestions and for the careful reading of all my proofs at a period of the academic year when such a service entailed a real sacrifice and became a double kindness.

C. F. T. B.

Yale University, August, 1911.

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