Though one of the greatest dramatists to have written in English, Shakespeare was not entirely original. He borrowed his plots from various sources, reworked his material, and infused it with his keen perception of humanity and unusual gift of language. This book studies four of Shakespeare's plays--As You Like It, King Lear, Pericles, and The Winter's Tale--and the primary source texts on which those plays are based. Each chapter examines one play in relation to its major source and to the historical and cultural contexts in which both the play and its source were written. The volume looks at Shakespeare's source texts not merely as raw material for plot and character, but as dynamic and often inconsistent texts involving layers of subtextual and intertextual suggestions and assumptions. In his revisionary practices, Shakespeare does not simply borrow selectively from his sources but appropriates, reimagines, and reacts against them, often by developing and expanding upon contrary suggestions already present in his source texts. In reshaping Lodge's Rosalynde into As You Like It, Shakespeare not only undermines the Petrarchan and pastoral traditions of the romance, but also refutes the implicit gender structures upon which such Petrarchanisms are based. In refashioning The True Chronicle Historie of King Leir into the tragedy of King Lear, Shakespeare does not simply reject the explicit Christian setting and happy ending of Leir, but engages and responds to the highly Reformational and Calvinistic assumptions that shape and inform the source play. In rewriting Greene's Pandosto into The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare not only adapts the plot and characterization of the source, but consistently counters and refutes the rhetorical and linguistic structures of Greene's romance. And in Pericles, Shakespeare adapts the Appolinus story from Gower's Confessio Amantis, but also responds to suggestions in the source text about the authority of the role of the author.

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