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Shakespeare in Company$
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Bart van Es

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199569311

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199569311.001.0001

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The events of 1608

The events of 1608

(p.251) 12 The events of 1608
Shakespeare in Company

Bart van Es

Oxford University Press

The year 1608 is widely recognized as a point of transition for Shakespeare: at or around this date there was a decisive change in his style of composition, with the embrace of a more lyrical mode of writing, of theatrical spectacle, and a shift in focus away from character towards plot. This chapter investigates the material changes that could have precipitated this alteration. It considers the possible emotional impact of old age and retirement on the playwright; the idea of adaptation to the indoor playhouse at Blackfriars; and the possibility of influence from the court of King James. Ultimately, however, these are rejected as principal causes of a change in Shakespeare’s style. Instead, it is argued, the change was brought about because of a new distance between Shakespeare and his actors: a distance brought about by plague, the departure of various players, and the dilution of the stock of acting shares.

Keywords:   late style, Blackfriars, retirement, plague, spectacle, plot

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