The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic

French inflections

By Richard Hillman

The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4407-2
  • Pages: 248
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: January 2020
  • BIC Category: Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800, Literature & literary studies / Shakespeare studies & criticism, Early Modern Literature, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / French, DRAMA / Shakespeare
  • Series: Manchester University Press


In exploring links between the early modern English theatre and France, Richard Hillman focuses on Shakespeare's deployment of genres whose dominant Italian models and affinities might seem to leave little scope for French ones. The author draws on specific and unsuspected points of contact, whilst also pointing out a broad tendency by the dramatist, to draw on French material, both dramatic and non-dramatic, to inflect comic forms in potentially tragic directions. The resulting internal tensions are evident from the earliest comedies to the latest tragicomedies (or 'romances').

While its many original readings will interest specialists and students of Shakespeare, this book will have broader appeal: it contributes significantly, from an unfamiliar angle, to the contemporary discourse concerned with early modern English culture within the European context. At the same time, it is accessible to a wide range of readers, with translations provided for all non-English citations.


'In sum, Hillman's The Shakespearean Comic and Tragicomic is a masterly study of intertextuality.
It will become an important model for comparative literature specialists owing to its astute
demonstration of evolving French and English theatrical forms and tastes. We are given a rich
tapestry of ideas about narrative and dramatic romance circulating between France and England
in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Given the density of the argument deployed,
the book should be savored over several sittings.'
H-France Review

'This book provides valuable material for scholars interested in wide-ranging associations and influences. Its recalibration of French works in relation to Shakespeare's textual production (and Hillman's term 'inflections'
is important in this respect) also makes the book an important intervention in comparative literary studies.'
The Modern Language Review


Textual notes
1 Theory, practice and genre: making room for France
2 Dreaming in French
3 French settings found and lost: Love's Labour's Lost and As You Like It
4 Late comedies tragically inflected: The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night
5 Tragicomedy - and beyond?: the view through French spectacles
Works cited


Richard Hillman is Professor Emeritus in Renaissance Literature at the Université de Tours, Centre d'Études Supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours, France

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