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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: October ::
Greenblatt on Cardenio
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0661  Wednesday, 3 October 2007

From: 		John W. Kennedy <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 02 Oct 2007 13:45:09 -0400
Subject: 18.0656 Greenblatt on Cardenio
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0656 Greenblatt on Cardenio

My working opinion on the matter (mostly based on the judgments of 
others) is that Theobald received "Cardenio" as a lost Shakespeare play, 
and produced "Double Falshood" in the belief that the Tonson monopoly 
was an obstacle to publishing the original; thus the famous copyright 
page reproducing the entire text of the royal warrant. He acknowledges 
in the Preface of the First Edition (written after the Drury Lane 
production) that some had detected traces of Fletcher, and dismisses it 
thus:

"Others again, to depreciate the Affair, as they thought, have been 
pleased to urge, that tho' the Play may have some Resemblances of 
/Shakespeare/, yet the /Colouring/, /Diction/,and /Characters/, come 
nearer to the Style and Manner of FLETCHER. This,I think, is far from 
deserving any Answer; I submit it to the Determination of better 
Judgments; tho' my Partiality for /Shakespeare/ makes me wish, that 
Every Thing which is good, or pleasing, in our Tongue, had been owing to 
his Pen."

In the Second Edition, we have instead:

"Others again, to depreciate the Affair, as they thought, have been 
pleased to urge, that tho' the Play may have some Resemblances of 
/Shakespeare/, yet the /Colouring/, /Diction/,and /Characters/, come 
nearer to the Style and Manner of FLETCHER. This, I think, is far from 
deserving any Answer; I submit it to the Determination of better 
Judgments; tho' my Partiality for /Shakespeare/ makes me wish, that 
Every Thing which is good, or pleasing, in that other great poet, had 
been owing to /his/ Pen. I had once design'd a /Dissertation/ to prove 
this Play to be of /Shakespeare/'s Writing, from some of its remarkable 
Peculiarities in the  /Language/, and Nature of the /Thoughts/: but as I 
could not be sure that the Play might be attack'd, I found it 
adviseable, upon second Consideration, to reserve that part to my 
/Defence/. That Danger, I think, is now over; so I must look out for a 
better Occasion. I am honour'd with so many powerful Sollicitations, 
pressing Me to the Prosecution of an Attempt, which I have begun with 
some little Success, of /restoring/ SHAKESPEARE from the numerous 
Corruptions of his Text: that I can neither in Gratitude, nor good 
Manners, longer resist them. I therefore think it not amiss here to 
promise, that, tho' /private/ /Property/ should so far stand in my Way, 
as to prevent me from putting out an /Edition/ of /Shakespeare/, yet, 
some Way or other, if I live, the Publick shall receive from my Hand his 
/whole/ WORKS corrected, with my best Care and Ability. This may furnish 
an Occasion for speaking more at large concerning the present /Play/: 
For which Reason I shall now drop it for another Subject."

Note the alteration of "in our Tongue" to "in that other great poet", at 
the cost of the sentence any longer making clear sense.

I suspect that, as Fletcher's fingerprints became more and more evident 
to Theobald, he became disappointed with "Cardenio", not considering the 
possibility of collaboration. (I know that some have suggested that he 
had discovered the documentary evidence making it one, but I am not 
aware of any positive evidence for this, and the hypothesis that he had 
not done so makes for what seems to me to be a more psychologically 
probable scenario.)

In any case Theobald did, of course, become the Tonson editor in 1733, 
and never mentioned in his edition "Cardenio" or "Double Falshood" (or, 
I gather, "The Two Noble Kinsmen", either). That edition, together with 
his earlier attack on Pope's edition, "Shakespeare Restor'd", which 
earned him the wrath of Pope and centuries of calumny, are now regarded 
as the fons et origo of scientific textual criticism in modern 
languages, which is none too bad a legacy.

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