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Shakespeare and Narrative

Meek, Richard


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Dr Richard Meek
Lecturer / Programme Director for the MA in English


This article explores recent critical work on Shakespeare and narrative. This is a particularly apt time for a reconsideration of this topic, not least because of current debates in Shakespeare studies regarding his status as a ‘literary' dramatist, and a resurgence of critical interest in rhetorical and aesthetic concerns. The article argues that one can discern an ‘anti-narrative prejudice' among several twentieth-century critics, particularly those who argue that Shakespeare's plays are more fully realised on the stage than on the page. Since the 1990s, however, critics have been more positive about Shakespeare's handling of narrative, and in recent years several commentators have noted his interest in ekphrasis- a term that refers to the verbal representation of visual representation, and, more broadly, to vivid narrative description that has the capacity to make us see. Far from being a kind of necessary evil, the narrative passages in Shakespeare's plays are part of a wider interest in rhetoric and the arts of language, and the ability of words to describe, depict and create pictorial effects.


Meek, R. (2009). Shakespeare and Narrative. Literature compass, 6(2), 482-498.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 5, 2009
Publication Date Mar 5, 2009
Print ISSN 1741-4113
Electronic ISSN 1741-4113
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Issue 2
Pages 482-498
Public URL
Publisher URL