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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

XII. Shakespeare on the Continent

§ 24. Shakespeare and the Modern German Theatre

The importance of Shakespeare for the history of the German theatre in the nineteenth century can hardly be overestimated; it might, indeed, be said that (with the single exception of the Bayreuth festival, dating from 1876) Shakespeare has beenassociated with every advance that the national theatre has made. Shakespearean types of character have formed an important factor in the staff organisation of theatres and, in large measure, have supplanted in poetic drama the French distribution of rôles; Shakespearean representations are the test of dramaturgic ability of every régisseur, and Shakespearean impersonations the keystone of every actor’s reputation. The schemes of a reformed stage with which Tieck busied himself and which he outlined in his novel Der junge Tischlermeister were based on the requirements of the English drama; plays by Shakespeare were included in the remarkable representations at Düsseldorf with which Karl Immermann endeavoured to stay the decay of the post-classical stage; and, in the golden days of the Vienna Hofburgtheater, under Heinrich Laube’s direction, and with actors like Sonnenthal, Lewinsky, Bauermeister and Charlotte Wolter, Shakespeare was acted as probably never before in any land.