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Shakespeare's Folktale Sources

Charlotte Artese

Shakespeare’s Folktale Sources argues that seven plays—The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Merchant of Venice, All’s Well that End’s Well, Measure for Measure, and Cymbeline—derive one or more of their plots directly from folktales. In most cases, scholars have accepted one literary version of the folktale as a source. Recognizing that the same story has circulated orally and occurs in other medieval and early modern written versions allows for new readings of the plays. By acknowledging that a play’s source story circulated in multiple forms, we can see how the playwright was engaging his audience on common ground, retelling a story that may have been familiar to many of them, even the illiterate. We can also view the folktale play as a Shakespearean genre, defined by source as the chronicle histories are, that spans and traces the course of Shakespeare’s career. The fact that Shakespeare reworked folktales so frequently also changes the way we see the history of the literary folk- or fairy-tale, which is usually thought to bypass England and move from Italian novella collections to eighteenth-century French salons. Each chapter concludes with a bibliography listing versions of each folktale source as a resource for further research and teaching. « less more »
University Press Copublishing Division / University of Delaware Press
Pages: 258Size: 6 x 9 1/8
978-1-61149-555-3 • Hardback • June 2015 • $80.00 • (£52.95)
978-1-61149-557-7 • Paperback • March 2017 • $44.99 • (£29.95)
978-1-61149-556-0 • eBook • June 2015 • $41.99 • (£27.95)
Charlotte Artese is associate professor of English at Agnes Scott College. She has published articles on The Faerie Queene and Utopia as well as on Shakespeare’s folktale sources.
Introduction. “Like the old tale”
Chapter 1. “Tell thou the tale”: Shakespeare’s Taming of the Folktale in The Taming of the Shrew
Chapter 2. “They will not intercept my tale”: Folk and Classical Traditions in Titus Andronicus
Chapter 3. “Have I encompassed you?”: Translating the Folktale into Honesty and English in The Merry Wives of Windsor
Chapter 4. “You shall not know”: Portia, Power, and the Folktale Sources of The Merchant of Venice
Chapter 5. “From point to point this story know”: Folktale Knowledge and Characterization in All’s Well that Ends Well
Chapter 6. “Rely upon it till my tale be heard”: Fossilized Folktales in Measure for Measure
Chapter 7. “Take pieces for the figure’s sake”: The Folktale Sources and Models of Cymbeline