Shakespeare, Plautus and the Humanist Tradition

January 1991
6 black and white, 6 line illustrations
319 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9780859913058
Format: Hardback

Shakespeare, Plautus and the Humanist Tradition

Wolfgang Riehle

out of stock

Wolfgang Riehle contends that recent scholarship has exaggerated theinfluence on Shakespeare of the native popular tradition, at theexpense of a full understanding of the importance that Roman, particularly Plautine, comedy would have had for an Elizabethan dramatist. Shakespeare is shown to have considered Plautus, as did the Renaissance humanists, a dramatist of great qualities from whom much could be learned. The study concentrates on Shakespeare's Comedy of Errorsand its two Plautine sources, the Menaechmi and Amphitruo. Riehle's approach reveals Shakespeare's relation to his sources and his idea of comedy in a new light. The later plays are examined in this context. Riehle also argues for the continuation in recognisable form of the New Comedy tradition throughout the middle ages and into the Renaissance.
WOLFEGANG RIEHLE is Professor of English literature at Graz University; he studied English, German and Classical literature atTubingen, Durham and Munich.


An important pieces of scholarship... Brilliantly conceived, and executed with learning and keen sensibility — both literary and theatrical —about how plays work... Breaks new ground and revises radically the stature of The Comedy of Errorsand the perspective from which it should be seen. ARCHIV
Addresses a major topic: the decisive classical influences on Shakespeare's sense of comedy... An account of Plautus's reputation in Elizabethan England is followed by an enormously detailed comparative examination of The Comedy of Errors... a final chapter extends the investigation to other Shakespearean comedies... Wide and deep learning, sophisticated sense of comparative literary criticism, and eye for textual detail... ENGLISH STUDIES