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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: November ::
Re: Cardenio
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1911  Tuesday, 9 November 1999.

[1]     From:   Carl Fortunato <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Nov 1999 09:23:00 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1903 Re: Cardenio

[2]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Friday, 05 Nov 1999 15:37:46 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1895 Re: Cardenio


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carl Fortunato <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Nov 1999 09:23:00 EST
Subject: 10.1903 Re: Cardenio
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1903 Re: Cardenio

>The next morning, a Berkeley professor (can't think who) used Hamilton's
>own handouts, citing different examples, to show just how unalike the
>handwriting was.

I saw Hamilton's Cardenio arguments.  In my recollection, Hamilton takes
the extant samples of Shakespeare's signature, uses that to build an
argument that Shakespeare's WILL is in Shakespeare's handwriting, and
then compares the will to the manuscript of the Second Maiden's Tragedy,
concluding that they, also, are in the same handwriting.  He also
proposes the idea that, while the Second Maiden's Tragedy does not have
anyone named "Cardenio," it has the same story as the Cardenio episode
in Don Quixote, and he postulates that maybe Shakespeare changed the
names after Don Quixote got popular.

Anyway, the handwriting samples did look alike to my eyes, but my
knowledge of handwriting is exactly zero.  I had wondered at the time if
any qualified handwriting experts had examined Hamilton's claims, and
what they concluded.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Friday, 05 Nov 1999 15:37:46 -0500
Subject: 10.1895 Re: Cardenio
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1895 Re: Cardenio

First, is Theobald's Double Falsehood still in existence (not
necessarily in print, but available)? If so, then I might like to read
it.

I think other respondents have already offered the main criticisms of
Hamilton's thesis that The Second Maiden's Tragedy is Shakespeare's.
However, since I was asked by John Ciccarelli, I'll respond as well.

One concern I have as a scholar is maybe a new twist on the old
authorship question: Not whether or not Shakespeare wrote his plays, but
whether or not any play with any uncertainty of authorship should so
quickly be claimed as Shakespeare's work. Not did Shakespeare write, but
is there anything of worth in early modern drama that he didn't write?

So . . . here goes:

>I am very curious, how can you be so sure "The Second Maiden's Tragedy"
>is not the lost Cardenio.  I am no expert on the subject but I think
>that the play does make a strong claim.  I have recently begun to read
>the book by Charles Hamilton and the theory that he presents is very
>intriguing.  A good portion of his claim rests on the handwriting
>comparisons between Shakespeare's will and the SM Manuscript.  One
>scholar's view is not conclusive, granted and possibly a group of
>independent researchers who are familiar with Jacobean holography should
>look to examine the pieces further.  Even if the results of such a study
>were split it would be enough to warrant further research into the play.

Though I wasn't previously familiar with the other listmembers' reviews,
it seems they may have fully demonstrated the flaws in Hamilton's
argument.  Thus it would only warrant further research if something
actually new can be presented in its defense.

>In my own on-line research I find it interesting the lack of response to
>Hamilton's theory.  Has his research just been dismissed?  Also I
>curious how this play has been associated with Middleton.  The only
>connection (other than his name appearing next to it) was a rebuttle to
>the Shakespeare attribution on a website of a play group in the Chicago
>area who put on the play last year.  The subposition was that the work's
>language is similar to Middleton, therefore it is Middleton's.  However,
>I have found no documentary evidence to connect Middleton with this
>play.

I will grant that point. But, if by documentary evidence we mean whose
name appears on the manuscript, then there isn't much evidence for any
attribution. One editor of the play, Anne Lancashire, notes that George
Chapman's name appears on the manuscript.

>In fact I have three points that appear to discount Middleton as
>the author.  Again I am no expert on the play and would hope that other
>SHAKSPEReans would keep me honest here.
>
>First, the Lady character is not indicative of many of Middleton's
>heroines.  She is very virtuous, honorable, and loyal to herself and her
>lover.  Middleton's heroine's are usually very bawdy and women of loose
>morals.

Usually, but not always. Notable exceptions appear in A Chaste Maid in
Cheapside (Moll); The Roaring Girl (Mary Fitzallard); No Wit, No Help
Like a Woman's (Grace); The Widow (Martia); and More Dissemblers Besides
Women (the Duchess).

>Second, there is a major gap in Middleton's writing from
>1608-1613.  The playwright prior to this gap wrote only bawdy comedies.

This is inaccurate on two counts. The Revenger's Tragedy and A Yorkshire
Tragedy are notable extant tragedies in Middleton's canon dating before
1608. Other tragedies have been lost. Between 1608 and 1613, Middleton
wrote The Roaring Girl; A Chaste Maid in Cheapside; No Wit, No Help Like
a Woman's; and several civic pageants (which I am willing to count as a
kind of drama).

Recent research (mine own included) shows that Middleton had a strong
commitment to the Protestant Reformation. The play that most obviously
shows his commitment is the allegorical drama A Game at Chess. But The
Second Maiden's Tragedy is also allegorical. For example, Helvetius
experiences something of a Calvinistically tinged conversion which has
close parallels to Sir Walter Whorehound's repentance in A Chaste Maid
in Cheapside. "Helvetius," of course, comes from the Latin name for
Switzerland, Calvin's home base. Can anyone name for me any Calvinistic
Shakespeare play? If not, I don't think I would add The Second Maiden's
Tragedy to his canon.

Hope this helps,
Jack Heller
 

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