A new play from Shakespeare?

Lewis Theobald was dismissed as a hack in the 18th century when he published Double Falsehood and claimed that it was an adaptation of a lost Shakespeare original. Now, some Shakespeare scholars believe that he was telling the truth all along:

”There is definitely Shakespearean DNA,” said English literature professor Brean Hammond, who has worked since 2002 to determine if ”Double Falsehood” has Shakespearean roots. Arden Shakespeare, an authoritative publisher of the Bard’s works, has released an edition of the play edited by Hammond — a decision the publisher acknowledges is controversial.

Arden’s general editor, Shakespeare scholar Richard Proudfoot, agrees with Hammond and says there is no absolute way of knowing if ”Double Falsehood” is based on Shakespeare’s work, but he argues it is a ”sufficiently sustainable position” that it represents the play in some form.

”My position is one of fairly confident — but cautious — acceptance,” he said.

Apparently, there is strong evidence that Shakespeare did indeed co-author the play Cardenio (based on the character from Cervantes’ Don Quixote) late in his life; there are records that the actors in the King’s Men troupe were paid for staging it. Hammond argues that there are also strong parallels between Shakespeare’s known works and Double Falsehood — in things like spelling, imagery, and syntax — but skeptics say it’s still no magic bullet:

Scholars are keen to find another Shakespearean play, [Prof. Tiffany Stern of Oxford] said, and so want to believe that ”Double Falsehood” is that work.

”You can put forward a real argument to say it’s a fraud,” Stern said, ”and you can put forward a real argument to say there’s a play in there somewhere.”

Those interested in a work that potentially has the bones of a possible play that was partially written by Shakespeare can check out Arden’s latest publication and decide for themselves.

Of course, everyone knows that these things were always a bit of a collaborative process:

Margaret Cabaniss

By

Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

Crisis Magazine Comments Policy

This is a Catholic forum. As such:

  1. All comments must directly address the article. “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter.” (Matthew 12:36)
  2. No profanity, ad hominems, hot tempers, or racial or religious invectives. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
  3. We will not tolerate heresy, calumny, or attacks upon our Holy Mother Church or Holy Father. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
  4. Keep it brief. No lengthy rants or block quotes. “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
  5. If you see a comment that doesn’t meet our standards, please flag it so a moderator may remove it. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” (Galatians 6:1)
  6. All comments may be removed at the moderators’ discretion. “But of that day and hour no one knows…” (Matthew 24:36)
  7. Crisis isn’t responsible for the content of the comments box. Comments do not represent the views of Crisis magazine, its editors, authors, or publishers. “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God… So each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10, 12)
MENU