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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: April ::
Re: _The Partial Law_
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0714  Thursday, 22 April 1999.

From:           Helen Ostovich <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Apr 1999 15:19:43 -0400
Subject: 10.0678 and _The Partial Law_
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0678 and _The Partial Law_

Thanks to  Meg Powers Livingston <
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 >, who asked (on
Saturday, 17 Apr 1999) questions on The Partial Law and Much Ado:   she

>Does anyone know if the anonymous play The Partial Lawe (c. 1616 or so)
>is available in any printed edition?  It's a manuscript play owned by
>the Folger and is supposed to be a re-working of Much Ado.  Has the
>Malone Society printed it?

I expect to be working on a new edition of that play with Len Ferry,
currently completely his doctoral studies under my supervision at
McMaster.  He "discovered" the play in the course of investigating
tragicomedies of the period related to his dissertation, and I'll let
him speak for himself next (he's not a member of SHAKSPER).  But we have
already received expressions of interest for internet publication at
least, and will also investigate paper publication in due course.

The Partial Law is  a re-working of the sources that Shakespeare used in
writing _Much Ado About Nothing_.  It was edited early in this century
by Bertram Dobell in a limited run of only 200 copies.  No apparatus is
provided with the edition, and the editor admits to having modernized
puntuation freely.  Dobell thought Massinger a possible candidate for
authorship, but there is little proof given for the attribution beyond
the similarity of heroine to Massinger's female characters.  And he
suggests dates between 1615 and 1630.  In its use of sources the play
should have considerable interests for Shakespeareans, by allowing them
the opportunity to compare Shakespeare's selection and use not only to
what we can imagine him having done but with the actual practice of a
contemporary.  It could also shed light on Shakespeare's return to the
"traduced lady" theme in the romances.  In fact, in his introduction,
Dobell notes an "intentional imitation" of Pericles in the play.  It is
also interesting both for its representation of female characters and
insofar as it represents a time in the history of the drama that
Fletcher and others undertook to re-write some of the works of
Shakespeare.  For these reasons I am currently working on a critical
edition of the play.

Leonard Ferry, McMaster University.

Helen Ostovich
Editor, EARLY THEATRE / Dept of English CNH-321
McMaster University

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