Swansong at the Seattle Shakespeare Company: Or Historical Fiction vs. Disciplined Historicism - A Swansong for Speculative Biography

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Abstract

This essay opens with a review of the Seattle Shakespeare Company's production of Swansong, Patrick Page's new play about the stormy friendship between Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. After examining the highpoints of the script and performance, the essay proceeds to read the rivalry between the two playwrights as a meta-commentary on the unspoken rivalry between academic scholarship and historical fiction. Since New Historicism has in effect elevated the "plausible" to an acceptable target of scholarly inquiry, historical fiction has gained an unprecedented respectability. As literary historians now retreat from speculative methodologies, historical fiction may provide a significant alternative venue for imaginative reconstructions eschewed by documentary biography.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBorrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation
Volume4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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