Cardenio: Or, The Second Maiden's Tragedy

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Editorial Reviews

Ray Olson
What's this--a new Shakespeare play? After a manner of speaking, yes, says autograph expert Charles Hamilton, who last year broke his claim that an untitled, anonymous manuscript in the British Museum Library is the handiwork of the bard of Avon--literally, for the handwriting in the manuscript is Shakespeare's. The play, says Hamilton, is the lost "Cardenio" and is known among scholars as "The Second Maiden's Tragedy", a title that links it to "The Maid's Tragedy" by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, the latter of whom cowrote "Henry VIII" and "The Two Noble Kinsmen", two late plays already in the Shakespearean canon. More than half the present volume consists of Hamilton's argument for accepting this play as a lost Shakespeare-Fletcher collaboration. Though Hamilton's exposition is well written and absorbing, particularly for fans of literary detection, the play's the thing that'll catch most readers. Written almost entirely in blank verse, it intertwines two plots borrowed from Cervantes' "Don Quixote". One's a court tragedy in which a tyrant overthrows a king in order to claim his lady love and, when she chooses death in preference to him, proceeds to woo her corpse; the other's seamy domestic fare in which a husband tries to prove his wife's faithlessness by getting his best friend to seduce her. At the ends of both plots, nearly everyone's dead. More lurid than the late Shakespeare we prize--"The Tempest" and "The Winter's Tale"--the play is briskly paced, thoroughly comprehensible, worthy of staging, albeit its grand guignol aspects encourage an over-the-top, theater-of-cruelty approach rather than the romantic realism of most productions of Shakespeare. It's lesser Shakespeare, to be sure, but deep-dyed Shakespeareans will want to read it. Nay, they must.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780944435243
  • Publisher: Glenbridge Publishing Ltd.
  • Publication date: 5/28/1994
  • Pages: 275
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.31 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Table of Contents

Cardenio or The Second Maiden's Tragedy 11
I Shakespeare's "Lost" Play 104
II The Paleographic Evidence 123
Pt. 1 The Lodestar: Shakespeare's Will 123
Pt. 2 Handwriting of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries 142
III Shakespeare and Cervantes: Collaborators 187
IV Shakespeare and Fletcher 198
V Cardenio and The Maid's Tragedy 213
VI Cardenio and Theobald's Double Falsehood 223
VII Other Candidates for Authorship of Cardenio 237
Notes 251
Some Words of Thanks 258
Bibliography 259
Index 265
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