This article seeks to add nuance to the story of Shakespeare's canonization in the eighteenth century, a story that has hitherto neglected the part played by the period's poetic miscellanies. Are there patterns in the form, quantity, and selection of Shakespearean texts within this hugely popular literary form over the century? Whilst the article examines a number of texts, it also offers a more focused analysis of one particular collection, The Agreeable Variety (1717), from which we can draw wider conclusions. The miscellany contains eight “Shakespearean” fragments. Some of these extracts are firmly attributed to Shakespeare, others are the consequence of adaptation and revision, and some have no provenance at all. What does this tell us about the cultural consumption and assimilation of Shakespeare at this moment of anthologizing? What cultural needs and attitudes do these textual relics realize? And more generally, how does this fit in the wider pattern of Shakespearean fragments that circulated in the period's other poetic miscellanies, and what does this reveal about the construction of “Shakespeare” as an esteemed textual presence on the literary market?
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Christopher Salamone; “The Fragments, Scraps, the Bits and Greasy Relics”: Shakespeare and the Eighteenth-Century Poetic Miscellany. Eighteenth-Century Life 1 January 2017; 41 (1): 7–31. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00982601-3695918
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