By E. A. J. Honigmann
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Extra resources for Shakespeare’s Impact on his Contemporaries
Anyone who thinks that Chambers' fifty pages reprint all contemporary allusions to 1640 is therefore hopelessly misled. Bentley saw that a little more method would not come amiss, and went too far in the other direction. Only certain kinds of allusion were to be allowed an acceptable allusion must mention the name ofJonson or Shakespeare or the name of one of their compositions or characters, or it must contain at least one line quoted from their works. 14 As reviewers pointed out, the last condition eliminates many quotations 30 Shakespeare's Impact on his Contemporaries that can be considered indisputable, simply because early literary journalists and minor poets did not feel it incumbent on them to quote accurately.
How can we explain the fact that five or six years after GWW the publishers of the plays remained unaware or unpersuaded of the magic of Shakespeare's name, and omitted it from the title-pages? Titus Andronicus (1594), The Contention (1594), The True Tragedy (1595), Richard m (1597), Romeo (1597), Richard II (1597) and 1 Henry IV (1598) all failed to state the writer's name, a 'breakthrough' that began in 1598. ) It may well be that the publication of Francis Meres' Palladis Tamia (1598: SR entry 7 September), with, its enthusiastic praise of Shakespeare, and its list of twelve of his plays, proved decisive in establishing his name with the book-trade in general: the only play-text of 1598 without the name, 1 Henry IV, was entered in the Stationers' Register before Pal/adis Tamia (on 25 February).
8); 'Thou of thyself thy sweet self dost deceive' (4. 10). The poet makes all he can of one side of the Friend and, one feels, almost coaxes it into being. In the plays' death-speeches convention dictated, again - as it still does - that one dwelt on the best side of the dead. The existence of something like an Homeric epithet for 'sweet Hamlet' or 'gentle Brutus' by no means guarantees that that is the full story. It refers to one side of a complex character, sometimes (as in the case of 20 Shakespeare's Impact on his Contemporaries Hamlet) not the side that is most visible.