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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Re: Pericles
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1461  Friday, 18 July 2003

From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 15:25:49 EDT
Subject: 14.1454 Re: Pericles
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1454 Re: Pericles

Sigh... it must be nice to be part of that elite who can appreciate
Shakespeare's poetry, unlike those who contaminate the ether by asking
who wrote it, or how was it printed, or which text is more correct. Tue
Sorenson disagrees with the views put forth in the Titus-Peele thread,
but deleted most if it unread. Romantic intuition?

Poetry is wonderful, but it is written by actual people using real pens
and real paper-- that is, there's a physical and factual element to it.
Tue Sorenson is "98% certain that Pericles is all Shakespeare" and says
"we know [the Oxford additional passages] aren't Shakespeare, and
Shakespeare shouldn't be messed with-- at least not if it's published
explicitly as Shakespeare".  Published explicitly as Shakespeare-- is
Pericles Q1609 meant or the Oxford ed?  If the former, it was indeed
published explicitly as by Shakespeare-- but so were A Yorkshire Tragedy
and The London Prodigal, and all three were omitted from the 1623 Folio,
so the external evidence for Shakespeare's authorship, while it cannot
be ignored, is less than 98% certain. As to the latter, I seem to recall
that the Oxford Augmented Pericles was offered as an admittedly radical
experiment-- what if we attempted as complete a reconstruction as
possible making maximum use of all available materials? -- and a
diplomatic reprint of quarto was also offered for those who prefer their
Shakespeare garbled but pure.

Actually it was in the service of recovering as much of Shakespeare's
poetry as possible that Wilkins' Tie-in Novelization was used-- there
are some pretty Shakespearean-seeming passages that appear in the novel
but not in the play. How Sorenson "knows" that these passages aren't
Shakespeare is a nice question, since the novel is explicitly a report
of the play as staged, and generations of scholars have agreed that the
text of the Pericles quarto is corrupt [though not on why or how or to
what extent].  In fact it is due to the love of Shakespeare and an
appreciation of his verse that questions have arisen concerning the
first acts of [e.g.] Titus, 1HenVI, Pericles, and parts of Henry VIII
and Timon. "Those who study plays want to know who wrote them." -- S.
Schoenbaum.  Wouldn't one feel silly for having swooned over the first
two acts of Pericles, if after one had died and gone to heaven it was
revealed that they had been written by a whore-beating pimp instead of
the Swan of Avon?  Yes, I'm indulging myself here, but my point is that
the study of the authorship of Pericles [for one] springs from a real
interest in the "substance of the poetry".  Interpretive analysis that
is based on a false premise-- a mistaken idea of who the author is-- is
worth far less that well-informed interpretive analysis. Technical
analysis logically precedes interpretive analysis.

Mac Jackson's book "Defining Shakespeare: Pericles as a Test Case",
forthcoming from Oxford UP in Nov 2003 should demonstrate to the
open-minded not only the how but the why of authorship studies.

As to the New Cambridge Pericles, it no doubt possesses some merit-- if
only as a minority report-- and it was not I who called it "the worst
edition of Shakespeare in living memory".  But here are a few more
critical notices of it I've come across in the last week. Jeffrey
Gantz's review can be found at
http://www.weeklywire.com/ww/08-17-98/boston_books_1.html.  And it is
one of the editions discussed in the essay "'To foster is not always to
perceive": Feminist perspectives in editing Pericles" which can be found
in the recently published collection "In Arden: Editing Shakespeare:
Essays in Honour of Richard Proudfoot", edited by Ann Thompson and
Gordon McMullan. I'd further like to recommend the whole book-- many
intelligent and reflective essays on editing and related topics.

Bill Lloyd

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