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Shakespeare and the Romantics

David Fuller

Publication Date - April 2021

ISBN: 9780199679126

304 pages
8.0 x 5.3 inches

In Stock


Romantic criticism, of which Shakespeare is the central figure, invented many of the modes of modern criticism. It is also distinct from many contemporary academic norms. Engaged with the social and intellectual currents of an age of revolutionary change, it is experimental, writerly, and individually expressive. Above all it is creative in response to the difficulties of understanding aesthetic experience in new ways, and in setting those experiences in new cultural and political contexts that Shakespeare's work helped to shape.

This book presents the main currents of these exciting but relatively little known engagements with Shakespeare, and through Shakespeare with the theory and practice of criticism, in England, Germany, and France, from the 1760s in Germany to the aftermath of the Romanticism in France. It also discusses Shakespeare in the theatre of the period--realist stagings which prefigure Shakespeare films; adaptations which fitted Shakespeare to contemporary tastes; and bare-stage experiments which foreshadow modes of contemporary theatre. A chapter on scholarship in the period shows Shakespeare as central to modern editing and historical criticism.

Much of the writing discussed is by men and women whose focus is not primarily critical but creative--poetry (Coleridge, Keats, Heine), fiction (Stendhal), drama (Lessing), or all three (Goethe, Hugo), cultural critique (Jameson, de Staël), philosophy (Hamann, Herder), politics (Hazlitt, Guizot), aesthetics (the Schlegel circle), or new original work in other media (Berlioz, Delacroix, Chassériau). It is writing directed to new modes of creating as well as new modes of understanding.


  • Explores the relationship between Shakespeare and the Romantics
  • Illustrates separate but interacting critical practices and theories evolved in England, Germany, and France
  • Studies the English stage and the relations between performance, criticism, and scholarship

About the Author(s)

David Fuller, Emeritus Professor of English, University of Durham

David Fuller is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Durham. He edited Tamburlaine the Great for the Clarendon Press complete works of Marlowe (1998), William Blake: Selected Poetry and Prose (Longman Annotated Texts, 2000), and co-edited (with Patricia Waugh) The Arts and Sciences of Criticism (Oxford, 1999), and (with Corinne Saunders and Jane Macnaughton) The Recovery of Beauty (Palgrave, 2015). His edition (with Corinne Saunders) of Pearl, modernized by Victor Watts, was published by Enitharmon (2005). The Life in the Sonnets, with a complete recording of the poems, was published in the series 'Shakespeare Now!' (2011). He trained as a Musicologist and writes on opera and ballet.


"what marks out Fuller's book is the sheer breadth with which he reads 'Romanticism' across Europe ... Even as Fuller's book explores the workings of Romantic criticism in depth, it never loses sight of 'Romanticism' as a historical category, spanning roughly 1770-1850, and that sense of history is illuminating" -- TLS

"Concisely written and argued, these 213 pages (excluding Chronology, Notes, Further Reading and Index), are written within the parameters of inventive expression and a most suave undertaking of gentle intellectuality." -- David Marx Book Reviews

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: Making it New
    2. England: Genius with Judgement
    3. Germany: 'our Shakespeare'
    4. France: Revolution and After
    5. Editors and Scholars: Inheritances and Legacies
    6. The English Stage: the Age of Siddons
    Further Reading

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