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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: December ::
Defining Shakespeare: Pericles as Test Case
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2297  Friday, 5 December 2003

From:           Mac Jackson <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Dec 2003 14:42:33 +1300
Subject: 14.2290 Defining Shakespeare: Pericles as Test Case
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2290 Defining Shakespeare: Pericles as Test Case

Seb Perry raises an important point. I do try to address it in the
Textual Appendix to my book. If the Quarto of Pericles is indeed based
on a "memorial reconstruction" or "report", it is certainly a rather
good one, and Gary Taylor even speculated that the "reporters" had
available the "part" of Gower. Any textual distortion caused by the
play's mode of transmission into print is not so severe as to invalidate
most kinds of tests that have been applied to the problem of authorship.
It probably affected the incidence of contracted forms such as "i'th'",
"ha's", "y'are", and the like; and some metrical data (particularly for
Acts 3-5) are likely imperfectly to reflect the original. But the very
fact that on so many different, independent tests, Acts 1-2 are sharply
distinguished from Acts 3-5, and that Acts 1-2 match Wilkins and Acts
3-5 Shakespeare, shows that, whatever the origins of the Quarto, it is
not so deeply corrupt as to render authorship determination impossible.

I realize that this argument may strike the sceptic as circular. But in
studying the authorship of Pericles, I did my best to remain at every
point alert to the possibility of textual corruption, and it is hard to
see how any "reporters", reconstructing the play from memory, could turn
late Shakespearean verse into anything as "Wilkinsian" as Pericles, 1-2.

Mac Jackson
University of Auckland

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