Preface to Shakespeare

Together with selected notes on some of the plays

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Author: Samuel Johnson
Published: 1765
Language: English
Wordcount: 22,629 / 73 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 33
LoC Category: PN
Downloads: 1,670
mnybks.net#: 4013
Genres: Criticism, Drama
Excerpt

h ended happily to the principal persons, however serious or distressful through its intermediate incidents, in their opinion constituted a comedy. This idea of a comedy continued long amongst us, and plays were written, which, by changing the catastrophe, were tragedies to-day and comedies to-morrow.

Tragedy was not in those times a poem of more general dignity or elevation than comedy; it required only a calamitous conclusion, with which the common criticism of that age was satisfied, whatever lighter pleasure it afforded in its progress.

History was a series of actions, with no other than chronological succession, independent of each other, and without any tendency to introduce or regulate the conclusion. It is not always very nicely distinguished from tragedy. There is not much nearer approach to unity of action in the tragedy of "Antony and Cleopatra", than in the history of "Richard the Second". But a history might be continued through many plays; as it had no plan, it had no limits.

Through al

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