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Shakespearean fama



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Geddes, Sean Lloyd Clinton 


The large context of this study is the literature and culture of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, especially as focused through the question of how the classical but also medieval past was received, grappled with and imitated. That question is focused further through the specific topic of this dissertation which is, broadly, fame in Shakespeare: whether considered as a vernacular, contemporary matter, or as the intricate classical topos of fama, the subject of fame obtains in a set of often extremely elusive and differing orders of representation that vary according to genre and to category of composition. Many meanings jostle behind fama – fame, rumour, report, reputation – and it tends to inflect the literature that adopts it in a correspondingly multifaceted way. An understanding of this protean body persisted in English poets who were well-versed in classical literature, and fama has shown itself in Shakespeare by changing further. Throughout the four chapters of this study, looking respectively at the Sonnets (chapters 1 and 2), Much Ado About Nothing, and The Tempest, I trace certain themes of fame in Shakespeare’s agile patterns of response to the tradition, and in his own innovation. I have most of all explicated themes that are strange or novel: the curious nature of what Montaigne called the ‘other life’ of fame (the extension of the self into into the imaginative regard of others); the ways in which literary (especially lyric) art can be said to have life or be perpetual; and, more generally, how the stuff of fama is used by Shakespeare to explore the complication of personal with public spheres, generating scepticism, crises of agency, and strange kinds of wonder at the point where the self is near its most fictive.





Lyne, Raphael


Shakespeare, Imitation, Classics


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Cambridge Trust.