Archive for Apocrypha

Shakespeare: the Apocryphal Edition

Posted in Pericles with tags on 2010/02/08 by mattermind

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!