Determining the Shakespeare Canon: Arden of Faversham and a Lover's Complaint

ISBN : 9780198704416

MacDonald P. Jackson
288 Pages
162 x 239 mm
Pub date
Jun 2014
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Editors of Shakespeare's Complete Works must decide what to include. Although not in the First Folio collection of 1623, The Two Noble Kinsmen and Edward III have now entered the canon as plays co-authored by Shakespeare. Determining the Shakespeare Canon makes the case for lifting Arden of Faversham, first published in 1592, over the same threshold. A wealth of evidence indicates that Shakespeare was wholly or largely responsible for several of its central scenes (constituting Act III in editions divided into acts), and that the domestic tragedy can thus be added to the mounting list of his dramatic collaborations. Shakespeare's beginnings as a playwright are due for reconsideration. The second half of this volume provides solid grounds for accepting that publisher Thomas Thorpe's inclusion of A Lover's Complaint within the 1609 quarto of Shakespeare Sonnets was justified. While A Lover's Complaint has long been part of the Shakespeare canon, according to most editors, the poem's authenticity has been vigorously challenged in recent years. Its status is crucial to how critics assess the authority of the quarto's ordering of sonnets and interpret the structure of the sequence as a whole. These two problems of attribution are each addressed in five separate chapters that describe the converging results of different approaches and rebut counter-arguments. Stylometric techniques, using the resources of computers and electronic databases, are applied and the research methodologies of other scholars explained and evaluated. Quantitative tests are supplemented with traditional literary-critical analysis.



About the author: 

MacDonald P. Jackson is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, a Fellow of the New Zealand Academy of the Humanities, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He has published widely on Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and has also been a critic, historian, anthologist, broadcaster, and editor of New Zealand literature. His twelve books, as author, editor, or co-editor, include Oxford or Cambridge editions of the plays of Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton, John Marston, and John Webster, and Defining Shakespeare: 'Pericles' as Test Case. Words That Count: Early Modern Authorship Studies in Honor of MacDonald P. Jackson was published by the University of Delaware Press in 2004.

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