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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: October ::
Cardenio and Double Falsehood
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0663  Thursday, 4 October 2007

From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 03 Oct 2007 15:29:14 -0400
Subject: 	Cardenio and Double Falsehood

For those seriously interested in this question, I recommend G. H. Metz, 
Sources of Four Plays Ascribed to Shakespeare 257-83 (U.Mo.Press 1989), 
which summarizes all the relevant scholarship to that point.

In my view, if anyone cares, the most persuasive case is that (a) 
Theobald actually had one or more manuscripts of a Jacobean play, which 
he revised; (b) the original play dramatized the Cardenio tale in Don 
Quixote, and therefore was likely to be the play registered by Moseley 
as by Fletcher and Shakespeare, and which was contemporaneously referred 
to as having been performed by the King's Men; (c) Fletcher had a large 
part of the authorship of the play; (d) another poet also had a hand in 
the play. The internal evidence that Shakespeare was the other poet is 
insufficient at least in the absence of rigorous stylistic analysis 
using modern technological tools, which would be complicated by 
Theobald's revisions. As it is, the Fletcherian portions are easily 
discerned but the other poet's share cannot be ascribed to Shakespeare 
(it shows no substantial sign of WS's late style). On the other hand, 
Shakespeare cannot be ruled out as one of the authors of the original 
play since Theobald revised the play, and would probably have heavily 
altered the kind of convoluted language WS used in his late works, 
exemplified by HenVIII and TNK, to make it palatable to an 18th Century 
audience. Ward Elliott and Robert J. Valenza's stylometric tests reject 
the play as Shakespearean (SHAKSPER Digest SHK 15.0915 [22 April 2004]). 
The sole external evidence for the conclusion that the other poet was 
Shakespeare is Moseley's attribution, which is questionable in view of 
his notorious unreliability in such matters. Therefore, at present, the 
verdict as to Shakespeare's partial authorship of Cardenio is "not proven."

As for Chas. Hamilton's contention that The Second Madien's Tragedy is 
the lost Cardenio, that is ludicrous for the reasons I previously noted 
here.

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