Renaissance drama and the politics of publication : readings in the English book trade


Renaissance drama and the politics of publication : readings in the English book trade

Zachary Lesser

Cambridge University Press, 2007

  • : pbk

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Reprint. Originally published: Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2004

"This digitally printed version 2007"--T.p. verso

Includes bibliographical references and index



Shifting our focus from author to publisher and from first performance to first edition, Zachary Lesser offers a vantage point on the drama of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster, and their contemporaries. Renaissance Drama and the Politics of Publication reimagines the reception and meaning of plays by reading them through the eyes of their earliest publishers. Since success in the book trade required specialization, locating a play within its publisher's output allows us to see how the publisher read it and speculated that customers would read it. Their readings often differ radically from our own and so revise our views of the drama's engagement with early modern culture. By reading the 1633 Jew of Malta as a part of Nicholas Vavasour's Laudian specialty, for example, or the 1622 Othello in the context of Thomas Walkley's trade in parliamentary news, Lesser's study reveals the politics of these publications - for early modern readers and for us.


  • List of illustrations
  • Preface
  • List of abbreviations
  • Introduction: from text to book
  • 1. Speculation in the book trade
  • 2. The cultural uses of typography in early modern England: Walter Burre's The Knight of the Burning Pestle
  • 3. Marlowe's Jew goes to church: Nicholas Vavasour and the creation of Laudian drama
  • 4. Insatiate, roaring devils and outlandish cups: Thomas Archer's dialogic publishing in the querelle des femmes
  • 5. 'Courtier's merchandise': Thomas Walkley and the paradoxes of domestic policy
  • Epilogue: readings then and now
  • Index.

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