The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0629  Tuesday, 1 April 2003

From:           B. Vickers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 01 Apr 2003 13:26:25 +0200
Subject:        14.0569 Re: King John Date

There is a smack of bardolatry on Ros King's argument that 'it is
inconceivable that the author of Troublesome Reign (published 1591)
could have invented the character of the Bastard unaided by previous
example.  That author doesn't understand the dramaturgical reasons for
creating such an a-historical character. He and his printer do know,
however, that the character is essential for marketing purposes.
Audiences are not going to be flocking to see TR's Bastard. If the
character is marketable he is so only in Shakespeare's version.
Shakespeare's version therefore has to be on the stage before TR is
published'. This is the kind of upgrading of Shakespeare above his
contemporaries (who therefore don't need to be taken seriously) that has
long damaged attribution studies. One dramatist who was certainly
capable of plotting TR, including adding invented material, was George
Peele. I think I can show that Peele wrote TR in 1590-91, and that
Shakespeare took off from it with King John in 1595-6. As MacDonald
Jackson recently show, an overwhelming number of vocabulary links, and
other intertextual evidence, places KJ very close to Richard 2 in the
mid-1590s.  It's not 'early Shakespeare' on any linguistic or
dramaturgical analysis.

Brian Vickers

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