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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: June ::
Hammond Edition of Double Falsehood

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0221  Saturday, 5 June 2010

From:       Hardy M. Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:       Saturday, June 5, 2010       
Subject:    Hammond Edition of Double Falsehood

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

I have just spent way too much time trying to find a digest that seems to have disappeared in the ether: SHK 21.0210, I believe. I remember making an editor's note to a digest of posts in response to the Double Falsehood thread. One of the posts recommended MacDonald P. Jackson's Review of Hammon's edition that appeared in TLS, May 21, 2010. I mentioned that there have been other articles in both the Times Online and TLS Online, but that I had been having problems with my TLS online account and I would write about these later. Well, I still have not gotten my problem with my TLS Online account solved. I had played around with scanning, but I still am not ready to prepare an abstract from Mac's TLS Review. I will say that I found it fascinating and solid, but more to come on that. 

On April 10, 2010, Valerie Grove had a piece in the Times Online: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/stage/theatre/article7091638.ece

What follows is an abstract Grove's "Did Shakespeare write Double Falsehood?" from The Times Online.

After centuries of debate, a scholar claims proof of the Bard's hand in 'his last play'

Professor Brean Hammond has every reason to be cheerful. His sleuthing and rigorous textual annotation, which has obsessed him for 20 years, has borne fruit: another play by Shakespeare is officially recognised in the canon. 

[ . . . ]

The lost Cardenio play, based on a story from Cervantes' Don Quixote, which we know was performed twice in 1613 by Shakespeare's company the King's Men (it appeared later in a stationer's list as "The History of Cardenio by Mr Fletcher. & Shakespeare") has long been a holy grail, tantalising Shakespearean scholars. Hammond's new evidence that the play that Louis Theobald tried to pass off as Shakespeare's in 1727 may indeed have been the genuine article flies in the face of its previous dismissal as a forgery.

The world of academe being notoriously prone to jealous backstabbing, you might expect rival scholars to pour scorn on his "discovery". Instead, there has been a cautious welcome. Professor Gordon McMullan, of King's College London, believes that the Arden Shakespeare made "a good and brave decision": "It may be as near as we can get to the Cardenio that Shakespeare and Fletcher wrote." Professor Jonathan Bate, of the University of Warwick, has gone into print in support. Professor Stanley Wells, co-editor of The Oxford Shakespeare, acknowledges the rigour of Hammond's scrutiny - while regarding the cover of the Arden edition as "misleading" and the play itself as "peripheral, and utterly on the fringes" of Shakespeare's oeuvre. But Hammond's basic authorship hypothesis is not questioned. And the imprimatur of the Royal Shakespeare Company seems certain now that the director Greg Doran is working on a version of Cardenio, which he is hoping to produce (with Spanish collaboration) next year when the Swan re-opens.

This story is complex, but it begins and ends with Hammond, 59, a jovial Edinburgh-born Scot who is the head of Modern English Studies at the University of Nottingham. He is not one of the fraternity of Shakespearean scholars, but an 18th-century man. I cannot hope to distil into this space his research spanning two decades, but the spark was his discovery that Theobald's 18th-century play Double Falsehood, "written originally by W. Shakespeare", widely dismissed as a fraud, contained language from an earlier age that Theobald could not possibly have invented; and that a copy of the play was stored in a Covent Garden theatre museum in 1770 - a building that burnt down in 1808.

Hammond says that his interest in the play started when he was working on his study of Alexander Pope in the 1980s. . . .

"I felt intuitively that some material pre-dated the 18th century, so the play certainly was a possible candidate for earlier authorship. . . . . 

Richard Proudfoot, general editor of the Arden Shakespeare, was preparing an edition of The Apocryphal Plays of Shakespeare, but the project was aborted. So in the 1990s Hammond resumed his Double Falsehood quest, with Proudfoot's encouragement. . . . 

Hammond believes he can detect Shakespeare in Acts I and II, and at least half of Act III, of Double Falsehood, and that Fletcher did much of the rest and retouched the whole thing: "That's my hunch." 

[ . . . ]

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