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William Shakespeare: Twelfth Night: Or What You Will Institute of Lifelong Learning, university of Delhi Discipline Course-1 Semester-II Paper No: III: British Poetry and Drama: 14th to 17th Centuries Chapter Name :William Shakespeare: Twelfth Night: Or What You Will Author Name: Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay College/ Department: Department of English, Ramjas College
William Shakespeare: Twelfth Night: Or What You Will Institute of Lifelong Learning, university of Delhi The Author To the student of English literature, and indeed of any literature, the name William Shakespeare needs no introduction. Shakespeare’s fame is unmatched in the literary sphere, and Shakespeare is a culture industry by himself. Millions flock to Shakespeare’ s birthplace and the scenes of his life and Stratford-upon-Avon each year. While some critics continue to maintain that the fuzzy details of his actual life prevent us from knowing for certain whether the historical Shakespeare really wrote the plays we ascribe to him, it really matters little to the discourse of Shakespearean drama, the beauty and longevity of the plays, their role in shaping English as a language, and their impact and influence in the history of drama. Shakespeare’s other works, his sonne ts and longer poems, share in the mystique of this creative genius. There will be few who are familiar with the English language but have not come across a Shakespeare phrase. Thus his biographical details, despite their importance in generating the aura of this figure, are less important than the actual works ascribed to him, and the period and historical conditions in which they were produced. 1 Shakespeare wrote nearly forty plays, out of which a majority are comedies/romances and the rest are tragedies and history plays. His tragedies are usually regarded as the better part of his output, particularly the quartet Hamlet (1600- 1601), Othello (1603-1604), King Lear (1605-1606) and Macbeth (1605-1606), all written and performed at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Twelfth Night (1600- 1601) was written and performed in the same period as Hamlet , making a seamless connection between tragedy and comedy. 1 Students interested in pursuing biographical and historical details about Shakespeare may consult: a) Stephen Greenblatt, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2005), and b) Peter Ackroyd, Shakespeare: The Biography (London: Chatto & Windus, 2004). For a humorous take on the idea of a Shakespeare biography, see Clarke, Graham, W. Shakespeare, Gent: His Actual Nottebooke (Kent: Ebenezer Press, 1992)
William Shakespeare: Twelfth Night: Or What You Will Institute of Lifelong Learning, university of Delhi ( Twelfth Night : First Folio cover, ) While the chronology of Shakespeare’s plays is subject to controversy as well, one can note the fact that this seamlessness further emphasizes the fact that authorial biography, from which one might draw some corresponding pattern, is unreliable and unnecessary in the case of Shakespeare. Moreover, within most Shakespearean

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