Shakespeare dating the plays
This is the only available resource of its kind and breadth but works hard for its readers nonetheless. This book carefully reviews the evidence, both orthodox and revolutionary, for establishing the dates for when each of William Shakespeare's plays were written. Surprisingly, the editor concludes that the plays themselves do not tell us when they were composed. The scholarly consensus on the dates and order of their composition "depends on conjecture about Shakespeare's artistic development, which cannot be substantiated by the documentary record.
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We do not know when the plays of Shakespeare were written or in what order," writes Kevin Gilvary, who edited the book and who wrote half the essays in it. This book will not be comforting to those who want certainty, but it may be of interest to those who want to know why certitude on this question cannot be achieved. The book is a project of the De Vere Society of England, an organization dedicated to promoting the idea that the works of William Shakespeare were written by Edward de Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford In addition to Gilvary, fifteen scholars, most of them affiliated with the Oxfordian movement, wrote or collaborated on one or more of the book's forty essays.
Each essay focuses on one of the thirty-six canonical plays of William Shakespeare. In addition, four other plays, which for various reasons have been generally or occasionally considered to be non-canonical, are here considered to be by Shakespeare and are also assessed for clues as to when they were written. The book has both assets and liabilities. The assets include the various authors' cautiously revolutionary perspective, which allows them to review the previous years worth of Shakespearean scholarship with respectful but skeptical eyes. Dover Wilson and others too numerous to mention.
Suffice it to say that the scholars whose opinions are considered in this book are generally held to be the most respectable to have written on the question. Another asset of the book is that each of the essays considers the possibility that that particular play was written by the Earl of Oxford. Evidence for Oxfordian authorship, and for a range of dates for possible composition by him, is considered alongside the discussion for various dates under the orthodox, or Stratfordian, position, i.
Another quality of the book, which the reader may regard as either an asset or a liability, is that none of the essays opine whether the author was the Earl of Oxford or the Stratford man. This is the book's greatest liability, in my opinion. Because the authors take no position on the question of who the author was, and therefore can espouse no view on how the development of the author's artistic talent may have lead him to compose this or that play in this or that year, the authors must fall back to the scant and inconclusive evidence found in the plays themselves.
Therefore, each play is assigned a chronological range of composition, ranging from the date of publication of the latest source used in the play, which is then offered as the earliest possible date of composition, to the date of the play's publication, or, if it wasn't published until the First Folio in , to the first known date of the play's performance, or to its mention in Meres' Palladis Tamia , or to its certain mention in other known sources, any one of which is then offered as the latest date that the play would have been written.
While intellectually honest, such a method leaves, in many instances, a window of thirty to forty years during which time the play could have been composed. Most of the plays, the authors tell us, could have been written in any year between and or This method doesn't tell us enough.
Flute, the Bellows mender, could have told us as much. We do not know when the plays of shakespeare were written, or in what order.
While I concur with much of what the previous reviewer says, both as regards the assets and liabilities of this book, I think his ultimate 3 star assessment is unfairly harsh. This is the first and only book of which I am aware, since E. King Henry VI Part 3.
Henry VI, Part Three. King Henry VI Part 1. Medieval and Renaissance Drama. Iambic Pentameter and the Poet's Idiosyncrasies. Retrieved 16 July The New Penguin Shakespeare. Shakespeare Folios And Quartos. The Dover Wilson Shakespeare 2nd ed.
Chronology of Shakespeare's plays
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Chronology of Shakespeare’s plays
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Twelfth Night, or What You Will. The First Night of Twelfth Night.
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