French Reflections in the Shakespearean Tragic

Three Case Studies

By Richard Hillman

French Reflections in the Shakespearean Tragic


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9989-2
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99
  • Published Date: October 2015
  • BIC Category: Literature, Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literature & literary studies / Shakespeare studies & criticism, Literary studies: c 1600 to c 1800, English, PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism, LITERARY CRITICISM / Shakespeare, The arts / Theatre studies


Hillman explores English tragedy in relation to France with a frank concentration on Shakespeare. He sets out to theorise more abstract tragic qualities (such as nostalgia, futility and heroism) with reference to specific French texts and contexts.

Three manifestations of the 'Shakespearean tragic' are singled out: Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra and All's Well That Ends Well, a comedy with melancholic overtones whose French setting is shown to be richly significant. Hillman brings to bear on each of these central works a cluster of French intertextual echoes, sometimes literary in origin (whether dramatic or otherwise), sometimes involving historical texts, memoirs or contemporary political documents which have no obvious connection with the plays but prove capable of enriching interpretation of them

Now available in paperback this study will be of interest not only to scholars specialising in early modern English theatre, but also to both specialists and students concerned with the circulation of information and the production of meaning within early modern European culture.


Richard Hillman broadens the field of known sources by moving from 'scraps' of plot and language' to more diffuse philosophical or political influences on three characters, each the product of an 'intertextual bricolage' which accounts for Shakespeare's 'ungrammaticalities'... One emerges quite dazzled by the extent of Hillman's learning.
Dominique Goy-Blanquet, Times Literary Supplement, 19th October 2012

Hillman breathes renewed life into multiple diverse early modern French texts, illuminating their resonances with mostly canonical English works... There is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from Hillman's deep particular research in French sources-work that will undoubtedly inspire future inquiry.

Hillman illuminates another elusive corner of Shakespeare's creative process with this study, representing another incremental - but certainly important - advancement in Shakespearean scholarship.


1. Introduction
2. Hamlet in Three French Lights
3. Nursing Serpents: French Ripples within and beyond the "Pembroke Circle"
4. Roussillon (bis) Revisited: Five Minutes to Midnight and All's Well


Richard Hillman is Professor of English at the Université François-Rabelais de Tours

French Reflections in the Shakespearean Tragic

By Richard Hillman

Paperback £14.99 / $21.95

Hardcover £80.00 / $120.00

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