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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

§ 25. The Meiningen Reforms

At the Shakespeare tercentenary in 1864—the occasion of the founding of the German Shakespeare-Gesellschaft—Franz Dingelstedt, then intendant of the court theatre in Weimar, produced the first complete cycle of Shakespeare’s Königsdramen, that is to say, dramas from English history; and it was with Shakespeare that Duke George II of Saxe-Meiningen, from 1874 onwards, attracted the attention not only of all Germany but of other lands, to stage representations of rare pictorial beauty and historical accuracy. The Meiningen “reforms,” which gave a great stimulus to the representation of classic dramas in Germany, were akin to what was being done, much about the same time, by Henry Irving in London; but they had an advantage over the English performances due to the stronger bond which has always united theatre and literature in modern Germany. In 1889, King Lear served for the inauguration of the Shakespeare-Bühne in Munich, which, notwithstanding other recent attempts in England, Germany and France, remains the only experiment of the kind which avoided the temptation to be only antiquarian, and succeeded in winning the approval of a wider public over a period of many years.