This is part of a bi-weekly series here at TSS: Early Modern and Open Access regularly showcases peer-reviewed articles (or other resources) of interest to early modernists that are freely available in open access formats.
First paragraph (in lieu of an abstract):
This essay is concerned with Shakespeare’s huge shadow – especially, during and after the eighteenth century, the shadow of Hamlet. But Shakespeare too was aware of shadows, and in Midsummer Night’s Dream the burlesque in the mechanicals’ play of Pyramus and Thisbe is an ironic take on well-worn conventions and how easily they could lose potency. Similarly, the Player’s speech in Hamlet is a perfectly serious, even respectful, acknowledgement of that same stock in trade to which, nevertheless, this new play sits lightly. The unwritten, unspoken subtitle that screams at you in Hamlet is “Not the Spanish Tragedy”: and Hamlet’s own shadow is so long that it may be resented as well as used, and even done to death. So this essay will look at two examples of how this issue might be negotiated by two writers in very different cultural epistemes, Sheridan in The Critic (1779) and Mark Twain in Huckleberry Finn (1884).