26. Dozens of North’s Passages in “Coriolanus”

1. Each of the eight attached pictures will show another page of speeches in Coriolanus that clearly derive form related passages in North’s Plutarch’s Lives.

2. Michael Blanding’s North by Shakespeare will explore arguments that North actually wrote the plays on Julius Caesar, Coriolanus, and Antony and Cleopatra based on his chapters in Plutarch’s Lives between the years 1576-1581. Shakespeare would then later adapt North’s plays in the 1590s and early 1600s.

3. But as this view is not yet well accepted, let’s put it aside for the moment and only consider facts not disputed….

4. Shakespeare’s Roman tragedies the plots and subplots, all the characters, and many dozens of passages–all from the same author. And this is not like, say, Hamlet or Othello, which are extremely original expansions of meager continental legends.

5. The Roman tragedies, in fact, are scene-by-scene reproductions of North’s chapters, even taking his most striking descriptions and most powerful speeches.

6. So given this, is it more accurate to refer to, say, Coriolanus as “written by William Shakespeare”? Or “written by Thomas North and adapted by William Shakespeare”?

7. After all, how do we refer to screenplays today that adapt literary works–like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Silence of the Lambs? Do we refer to them as “written by” the adapters and exclude the original author from the title pages?

8. Do we then give credit to the adapter for the quality of the scenes and speeches first written by the original author? Of course not. Indeed, we make sure to clarify the roles of the writers on the title pages.

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