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William Shakespeare biography
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The First Folio is a collection of his plays – comedies, histories and tragedies that were published in the year 1623 by his colleagues John Heminge and Henry Condeil. Some of his plays were printed from texts reconstructed form the memories of the actors, other were supplied to the printer by the company. Shakespeare´s indifference to publication creates poblems in dating and establishing accurate texts for the plays. Shakespeare´s earliest plays performed between the years 1588 and 1593 already show the range of his formal dramatic interests. His first tragedy was “Titus Andronicus” (c. 1592 – 1594) For the tree parts of “Henry VI” (c. 1588) and for “Richard III” (c. 1593) he drew on histories of England by Edward Hall (1548) and Raphael Holinshed (1587). Shakespeare returned to this material between the years 1595 and 1600 to write four plays: “Richard II” (1595), “Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2” (1597 and 1598) and “Henry V” (1599) – that tell and earlier part of the history.
Shakespeare´s English history plays reflect the age´s horror at the idea of civil war and explore the responsibilities of divinely authorized kingship, pointing forward by implication to the reign of Elizabeth I. Shakespeare continued to alternate the writing of comedy (as he had an excellent sense of humour) and tragedy (he was a master of dramatic construction and language), although comedy is relatively more prominent in the last decade of the 16th century.
COMEDIES: The Comedy of Errors (c. 1588 – 1593), Love´s Labor´s Lost (1594),
The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night´s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing,
As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Two Gentlemen of Verone, The Taming of the Shrew
He presented the themes of love, friendship, human harmony and joy of life.
His greatest period was between 1600 – 1607 during which he wrote his most remarkable tragedies.
TRAGEDIES: Romeo and Juliet (c. 1595), Julius Ceasar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus (c. 1608)
They are about morality, sensitivity in the insesitive world, about good and evil, true and false visions, self-knowledge, progress of evil in man and responsibility. Shakespeare´s interest in experimentation complicates this division and resulted in a group of plays (c. 1601 – 1604) thath do not fit neatly inot either category:
“Troilus and Cressida”, “All´s Well That Ends Well” and “Measure for Measure”. These plays – and in some critical accounts, others, including “Hamlet” or “The Merchant of Venice” – have been called problem plays. Near the end of his career he experimented further in four plays now often called the romances: “Pericles”
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