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Renaissance Drama and the Politics of Publication Readings in the English Book Trade

by Zachary (Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) Lesser

Renaissance Drama and the Politics of Publication Readings in the English Book Trade Synopsis

Shifting our focus from author to publisher and from first performance to first edition, Zachary Lesser offers a vantage point on the drama of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster, and their contemporaries. Renaissance Drama and the Politics of Publication reimagines the reception and meaning of plays by reading them through the eyes of their earliest publishers. Since success in the book trade required specialization, locating a play within its publisher's output allows us to see how the publisher read it and speculated that customers would read it. Their readings often differ radically from our own and so revise our views of the drama's engagement with early modern culture. By reading the 1633 Jew of Malta as a part of Nicholas Vavasour's Laudian specialty, for example, or the 1622 Othello in the context of Thomas Walkley's trade in parliamentary news, Lesser's study reveals the politics of these publications - for early modern readers and for us.

Renaissance Drama and the Politics of Publication Readings in the English Book Trade Press Reviews

'Lesser's book maps out important directions for Renaissance scholarship.' Forum for Modern English Studies 'Lesser's findings are of considerable importance to publishing history ... scholarly and thought-provoking ... Through his four absorbing case histories Zachary Lesser offers a study of the highest importance not only to bibliography and the history of the English book trade but also to many other areas of historical, literary, and cultural studies.' Review of English Studies 'This is a book that offers direction for the study of early modern playbooks, a way of reading that will be responsive not only to bibliographical evidence but also to the earlier readings that it creates ...' The Library 'Lesser's radical approach permits a radical clarity ... he casts a dazzling and original light onto the public moment of these plays' birth.' Renaissance Quarterly '... most interesting and useful ... especially interesting and original [of all those published during the year]. ... This is a genuinely original approach and yields important new insights into the reception of the plays he considers ... Lesser makes a convincing case that attention to publishers can yield important information about how plays were read.' Studies in English Literature 'Lesser has written an excellent book ... a genuinely new contribution to the field ... It will be hard for anyone who has read his book to go on to read an early modern play without paying attention, in a way they are unlikely to have done before, to the identity of its publisher ...' Renaissance and Reformation 'Lesser's claim is compelling, and he usefully isolates and understudied but undoubtedly important aspect of the drama ...' Literature and History 'Lesser's book maps out important new directions for Renaissance scholarship.' Forum for Modern English Studies 'This is a book that offers a new direction for the study of early modern playbooks, a way of reading that will be responsive not only to bibliographical evidence but also to the earlier readings that it creates ...'. -The Library 'Lesser's radical approach permits a radical clarity ... he casts a dazzling and original light onto the public moment of these plays' birth.' -Renaissance Quarterly 'Lesser's findings are of considerable importance to publishing history ... scholarly and thought-provoking ... Through his four absorbing case histories Zachary Lesser offers a study of the highest importance not only to bibliography and the history of the English book trade but also to many other areas of historical, literary, and cultural studies.' -Review of English Studies ' ... most interesting and useful ... especially interesting and original [of all those published during the year].... This is a genuinely original approach and yields important new insights into the reception of the plays he considers ... Lesser makes a convincing case that attention to publishers can yield important information about how plays were read.' -Studies in English Literature 'Lesser has written an excellent book ... a genuinely new contribution to the field ... It will be hard for anyone who has read his book to go on to read an early modern play without paying attention, in a way they are unlikely to have done before, to the identity of its publisher ...' -Renaissance and Reformation By making the publisher his agent and the publisher's specialty his backdrop, Lesser creates a new canon of literature for investigation and a new method for recovering early reader response. He also destabilizes many foundational principles of print history and literary criticism--that the author is the source of a text's meaning, that the print industry is a passive if unreliable conduit of meaning, and that the political culture that informs a text is the one in place when the text was composed. -Shakespeare Studies

Book Information

ISBN: 9780521842525
Publication date: 18th November 2004
Author: Zachary (Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) Lesser
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 258 pages
Categories: Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800,

About Zachary (Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) Lesser

Zachary Lesser teaches Shakespeare and early modern drama at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published widely on Renaissance drama and the history of the book in journals such as ELH, English Literary Renaissance and Shakespeare Quarterly.

More About Zachary (Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) Lesser

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