Thursday, April 16, 2015

Shakespeare's Double Falsehood

New research suggests the play "Double Falsehood" was primarily authored by William Shakespeare, not Lewis Theobald, as had been thought.

Theobald's 1727 version claimed that it had been originally authored by Shakespeare, but he produced his own version from 3 Shakespeare manuscripts that had subsequently been lost in a library fire. But it appears he overstated his own contribution, which according to the latest research, was minimal.

In The Daily Beast, Malcolm Jones calls it "the Bard's uncomfortable new rape play" and muses that Elizabethan audiences were not likely "easy" with rape in a purported comedy play.

It's an odd thing to say, given the Elizabethans' well-known propensity for blood, gore, and scandal. Shakespeare's violent plays were his most popular, according to shakespeare-online:
While patrons liked a good comedy, they consistently packed the theatres to see the newest foray into treachery, debauchery, and murder. Scenes of bloodshed were staged with maximum realism
"Double Falsehood," despite the alluded-to rape (the two parties eventually married), is extremely tame in comparison with many of Shakespeare's famous plays, such as Macbeth and Julius Caesar. And violence isn't unknown in Shakespeare's comedies--"The Comedy of Errors" and "The Tempest," for example.

Strange that we are only discovering basic facts about Shakespeare's oeuvre only now, several hundred years after the fact--such as which plays he wrote and which he didn't, and who he really was anyway.

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