Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Names and Sources in Cymbeline by Grant Smith

ANS 2023, January 20, 2023 "Names and Sources in Cymbeline" by Grant Smith (Eastern Washington University, WA, USA) In most of his plays, Shakespeare’s central plots rely heavily on a primary source plot. For a new play, he usually modified the action of a source plot, often renamed characters, and added new characters. Thus, his use of source names compared to new names, the subject of my research, is at least one measure of his creativity, his relative reliance on source plots, and his presumption of their fictive status. In The Winter’s Tale, for example, Shakespeare follows the plot of Greene’s Pandosto very closely but changes all the names and radically transforms the tragic ending into a positive tale of remorse, faith, and redemption. Cymbeline, written very near in time, draws not on one but on at least four different source plots. From them Shakespeare interweaves four distinctive lines of action – 1) a banishment story, 2) a wager story, 3) a tribute story, and 4) a story of surprising victory and reconciliation. Two of these plot lines follow sources in Renaissance literature, and two follow historical sources. This paper will show that Shakespeare retains more of the names used in his historical sources than those in his literary sources and thereby treats them as less fictive. GRANT SMITH, Prof. Emeritus, Eastern Washington University, former president of ANS, vice president of ICOS, 34 years on the Washington Board on Geographic Names, host for many international scholars. Currently emphasizes literary onomastics and philosophy of language. His new book, Names as Metaphors in Shakespeare’s Comedies, available at Vernon Press.

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