The complexities sketched at the end of chapter 2 are only particular versions of a more general complexity. Given the reductive disposition of all critical writing, it is useful to be reminded that Shakespeare plays construct and reconstruct, present and represent a dialectic among histories, “at once formal, institutional, social, and vocational” (Engle 72). Such histories, moreover, are the histories of the characters and situations in the plays, yet also to some greater or lesser extent of all the people who had a hand in the making of the plays. Preeminently this was its primary author—the person who first wrote most of the words that constitute the text. But it must also include all those others involved in the process by which an early modern dramatic text made its way into print—secondary writers, who might be full-fledged collaborators, as Fletcher collaborated with Beaumont and (in Henry VIII) with Shakespeare, or might just contribute a song or a scene; members of the acting company and others whose opinions and suggestions made their way into the text as it was being prepared for performance; patrons and censors whose expectations or prohibitions encouraged or repressed particular words, actions, or ideas; printers and booksellers who undertook to produce books from scripts; scribes and typesetters who converted drafts and promptbooks into fair copies and printed pages.
KeywordsHenry VIII Final Scene Ambiguous Type Critical Writing Mutual Service
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