The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0313  Monday, 17 April 2006

From: 		Peter Holland <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Tuesday, 11 Apr 2006 11:39:07 -0400
Subject: 17.0308 Caracalla
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0308 Caracalla

Centerwall's TLS piece depends largely on an argument about handwriting 
(on which, in the absence of illustrations, there is nothing yet for 
others to say) and Chapman's putative mild dyslexia (on which he is 
moderately convincing). He is much less convincing when he argues that 
the passages he quotes show the knotted syntax characteristic of 
Chapman's dramatic verse, for the extracts he prints read perfectly 
clearly to me in a way that is true of little of Chapman's tragic verse. 
But then he argues, too, that the simple dramaturgy of Caracalla 
indicates that it must be a very early work, perhaps Chapman's first 
play, and here he falls into the common trap of assuming that dramatists 
produce more complicated plays as they mature, something the chronology 
of Shakespeare's plays shows to be untrue (Pericles?!) but something 
which underpinned the ambitious and mistaken chronologies created by, 
say, Malone. The ascription of Caracalla to Chapman would benefit from, 
at the very least, some analysis of vocabulary, something that would 
appear not yet to have been done.

I should mention that the next volume of Shakespeare Survey, due out in 
October, will include Centerwall's thoroughly persuasive investigation 
of the William Basse elegy on Shakespeare which he interestingly 
attributes to John Donne.

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