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Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the use of a variety of sources by English playwrights during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, including historical chronicles, English and classical poetry, Italian novelle, and books and pamphlets about current events. More specifically, it considers the question of what playwrights thought they were doing when they adapted the texts of classical poetry to a new theatrical medium, which even they understood to be a mode of representation with lower prestige. It highlights moments of ‘meta-adaptation’ and discusses three plays in which both the process of adaptation and the question of the relation between dramatic and non-dramatic literature figure prominently: Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage; Ben Jonson’s Poetaster; and William Shakespeare and George Wilkins’s Pericles.

Keywords: sources, playwrights, classical poetry, meta-adaptation, plays, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Poetaster, William Shakespeare, Pericles

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