Shakespeare: the Apocryphal Edition

Because I know so little about Shakespeare’s Pericles, I broke a rule and sneaked a peak at the introduction to my hardbound Penguin text, hoping for a clue as to its background.

What I found was utterly fascinating. The introduction (in italics) is by Stepen Orgel of Stanford University. Go Cardinals!

Pericles is one of the seven plays that first appeared in print under Shakespeare’s name during his lifetime, but nevertheless were not included in the First Folio — plays that did not, that is, become part of the original Shakespeare canon, despite the fact that they were originally ascribed to Shakespeare. All were included in the second issue of the Third Folio (1664), and continued to be integral to Shakespeare’s works until Pope’s edition of 1723-25, from which they were banished, though they were subsequently included in Pope’s second edition of 1728.

Why Pericles, then, and not The Yorkshire Tragedy (or The London Prodigal, or Sir John Oldcastle, or Locrine, or Thomas Lord Cromwell, or The Puritan Widow, the rest of the apocrypha)?

Very good question indeed! Then again, since this is the first I’ve ever heard of these other plays, I realize I’m wading into shark-infested waters better left to the experts.

As we read the play, we’ll just have to ask ourselves how “Shakespearean” the text sounds. I know… not very scientific. But otherwise, the whole project could get bogged down in minutia.  Like Titus Andronicus.

The play, both on the stage, and in print, was hugely popular — one of Shakespeare’s most popular and widely performed plays — yet the King’s Men never asserted their right to it.

Okay — now I’m really intrigued! Which is, I must confess, a lot more interested than I was before poking my nose into said introduction.

I have read no further, however, I assure you. Which may be a good or bad thing, depending on how poor a job I do.  Yet into the breach I go!


2 Responses to “Shakespeare: the Apocryphal Edition”

  1. Hi there Bryan,

    I’m one of the coordinators of the Open Shakespeare Project: thanks for leaving a comment on our blog the other day. I’ve just been perusing your musings on Shakespeare, and I’ve found them very enjoyable.

    You might be interested to know that we’ve just set up a word of the week feature over on the Open Shakespeare blog, as well as a tool to compare the original Shakespeare with foreign translations. We’re also in the process of compiling brief introductions to each of the plays…and we’re looking for writers if you’re interested. A sample introduction can be found here:

    Best of luck with the sonnets: watch out for links between the number of the sonnet and its contents…. 🙂

  2. I responded via email — hope you got it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: