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Shakespeare Only$
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Jeffrey Knapp

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226445717

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226445731.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Shakespeare Only

Jeffrey Knapp

University of Chicago Press

Three decades of controversy in Shakespeare studies can be summed up in a single question: Was Shakespeare one of a kind? Harold Bloom has denounced recent historicist scholarship on the Renaissance theater for its denial of “Shakespeare's unique eminence” as an author. Some historicists view Shakespeare's greatness as a post facto construction with no substantial relevance to the historical person and his writings. According to Michael Dobson, for instance, Shakespeare's supremacy as an author was first elaborated in the eighteenth century to buttress English claims of national unity and greatness. Margreta de Grazia traces the origins of Shakespeare's singularity to the great eighteenth-century editions of Shakespeare's works, which depicted most of the playscripts attributed to Shakespeare. However, Bloom seems right to insist that the historical context alone cannot explain why the works of Shakespeare have received extraordinary attention.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, Harold Bloom, historicist scholarship, playscripts, national unity, authorship, Renaissance

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