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|Hammond Edition of Double Falsehood|
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0233 Thursday, 10 June 2010
 From: Ron Rosenbaum <
 From: Hardy M. Cook <
Unfortunately Clark J. Holloway misses the point I was making in my <Slate> essay <http://www.slate.com/id/2161049/landing/1> on the problem with the new Arden 3 edition of <Double Falsehood>, edited by Brean Hammond.
The point was not whether or not the "Shakespearean" elements of <Double Falsehood> Mr. Holloway seems to hear in Lewis Theobald's 18th century concoction can be found in the first or second half of the play, but whether there are enough elements <anywhere> to justify Arden's decision to publish the woeful pastiche under the banner of "The Arden Shakespeare", thus misleading potential buyers and readers.
I refer Mr. Holloway and list members to Macdonald P. Jackson's review of the Hammond-edited volume in the May 21 issue of the <Times Literary Supplement>.
No one can doubt Macdonald P. Jackson is an exceptionally scrupulous Shakespearean scholar. Nor can one doubt him when, in his review, Jackson tells us the reader hoping for "scenes of pure Shakespeare is doomed to disappointment", that at most there are "vestiges of his handiwork", "muffled echoes" in "a few scraps of verse". This of course includes the first two acts which seem to have so impressed Mr. Holloway.
Any alleged "Shakespearean" elements can be explained by Lewis Theobald's attempt to mimic his better.
As a marketing ploy, as a "brand extension", an attempt to "monetize" aubprime "Shakespearean" goods, Arden's decision is too clever by half and will inevitably diminish the reputation of the publisher and alas, perhaps Shakespeare as well, for all those who are taken in by its inclusion in the Arden edition.
I had been planning on included an abstract of Mac Jackson's Review of the Hammond Double Falsehood even before Ron Rosenbaum mentioned it. So here it is.
TLS MAY 21 2010
In 1726 the minor poet, playwright, librettist and man of letters Lewis Theobald published Shakespeare Restored, a work that earned him the enmity of Alexander Pope, whose inadequacies as an editor of Shakespeare the book exposed. "Piddling Tibbald', as Pope called him, became chief dunce of the Dunciad. But his understanding of the principles of textual editing and of Shakespeare's modes of thought and expression far exceeded Pope's. It is to his acumen that we owe such brilliant emendations as "and a' babbled of green fields", where the Hostess, describing the dying Falstaff s death, had said in the First Folio of 1623 that "his Nose was as sharp as a Pen, and a Table of greene fields". Theobald's insights recovered scores of Shakespearean readings corrupted in the early printed texts. His next major enterprise, however, may have obliterated more of Shakespeare's writing than it preserved. In 1727 he presented at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane Double Falshood; or, The Distrest Lovers, publishing it in two issues the following year and claiming that it was originally by Shakespeare, whose work he had "revised and adapted" for the stage. Pope and his allies ridiculed these claims, hinting that the play was entirely Theobald's creation. Debate over Theobald's honesty in the matter has persisted ever since.
Certain facts suggest that he was telling what he believed, at least at first, to be the truth. . . .
Whether Double Falsehood is based on Cardenio or not, its ultimate source is also "The History of Cardenio" in Don Quixote, and in Shelton's translation, which was reprinted in 1725. Theobald appears to have consulted the reprint. He reported that a tradition assigned composition of the supposed Shakespearean original to the latter years of Shakespeare's career - "the Time of his Retirement from the Stage". . . .
If they were not fictional mouthpieces for Theobald's own secret doubts, the others were perceptive. Modern commentators have recognized the strikingly Fletcherian style of much of the verse in Double Falsehood from Act Three, scene two onwards. . . .
[ . . . ]
Was Shakespeare a co-author of Cardenio? and, if so, has any of his writing survived? into Double Falsehood? . . . Anybody? approaching Double Falsehood in the hope? of reading scenes of pure Shakespeare is? doomed to disappointment. But the play has merit, despite incoherences that seem more compatible with the abbreviation and reorganization of a Jacobean original than with free? composition. . . . The ingredients are familiar from Shakespeare's late romances and Fletcher's tragicomedies, though the emotional amplitude of the endings of Pericles and The Winter's Tale is lacking.
Brean Hammond's lively introduction to his Arden edition of the play offers a thorough and judicious account of the relevant scholarship. His cautious conclusion is that Shakespeare had indeed collaborated with Fletcher on Cardenio and that vestiges of his handiwork remain in Double Falsehood. . . .
[ . . . ]
Hammond's copious commentary draws attention to words and phrases found in Shakespeare and Fletcher's period but not in Theobald's, and vice versa. . . .
[ . . . ]
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