The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0313 Monday, 17 April 2006
Date: Tuesday, 11 Apr 2006 11:39:07 -0400
Subject: 17.0308 Caracalla
Comment: Re: SHK 17.0308 Caracalla
Centerwall's TLS piece depends largely on an argument about handwriting
(on which, in the absence of illustrations, there is nothing yet for
others to say) and Chapman's putative mild dyslexia (on which he is
moderately convincing). He is much less convincing when he argues that
the passages he quotes show the knotted syntax characteristic of
Chapman's dramatic verse, for the extracts he prints read perfectly
clearly to me in a way that is true of little of Chapman's tragic verse.
But then he argues, too, that the simple dramaturgy of Caracalla
indicates that it must be a very early work, perhaps Chapman's first
play, and here he falls into the common trap of assuming that dramatists
produce more complicated plays as they mature, something the chronology
of Shakespeare's plays shows to be untrue (Pericles?!) but something
which underpinned the ambitious and mistaken chronologies created by,
say, Malone. The ascription of Caracalla to Chapman would benefit from,
at the very least, some analysis of vocabulary, something that would
appear not yet to have been done.
I should mention that the next volume of Shakespeare Survey, due out in
October, will include Centerwall's thoroughly persuasive investigation
of the William Basse elegy on Shakespeare which he interestingly
attributes to John Donne.
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