This chapter provides a discussion of the book’s intertextual method and a survey of its contents. The relation between theory and practice is set out, and illustrations are given to show how unduly narrow ideas about an early modern dramatist’s use of sources may limit the range of meanings perceived by critics and potentially accessible to contemporary audiences. North’s Plutarch is introduced in relation to its French original, the translation by Jacques Amyot, and, particularly, to that translation’s edition by Simon Goulart. A soliloquy from Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus is approached by way of its recognised English (from German) source and a possible French one. The perennial question of Shakespeare’s knowledge of French is addressed, as is that of his possible access to more obscure, less obviously ‘literary’, French texts and contexts.
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