A Muse of Fire

How international is a national poet?
This blog is part of a doctoral investigation into the role played by French thought in the criticism and canonisation of Shakespeare in eighteenth-century Britain. Typically seen as a ‘national poet’, I believe that Shakespeare, from the outset, was read and interpreted in an cross-cultural and not an insular envronment. To test my ideas, I will be focussing both on established pieces of Shakespeareana from the period, such as Johnson’s Preface and Garrick’s Jubilee, and ranging out into lesser-studied texts such as acting manuals with their conflation of French acting theory and Shakespearean example. Given the international celebrity of some British actors of Shakespeare, the techniques and technicalities of performance (and their ability to cross borders) will be a particularly central concern of this work. Hence the title of this blog, the first lines of the Chorus’s wish that the audience imagine the fields of France on the British stage. Like them, I too may need a muse of fire to get through this PhD.

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