Double Falsehood – Parte Dos

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For a wide-eyed textual novice like myself, last Friday’s panel on Arden’s edition of Double Falsehood had mouth-watering appeal before it even began. Wells, Hammond, Doran – a distinguished panel indeed. But, when Professor Richard Proudfoot unexpectedly entered the room to join the discussion, the bar of expectation, already set above any reasonable level, was somehow raised even higher.

With the unenviable task of sitting in the chair to moderate a potentially virulent debate, Paul Edmondson opened the session by asking Brean Hammond to present the facts that surround the lost Cardenio and its adaptation, Double Falsehood. As he does in the introduction to his edition, Hammond clearly and adeptly elucidated a rather complex textual narrative that involves lost authorial and scribal manuscripts, supposed forgery, and a number of destructive fires – all developing over the course of more than 100 years. Strangely enough, it would seem the textual history of Double Falsehood and the centuries of debate that surround the play are far more interesting than the play itself.

It was a delight to be able to hear Stanley Wells, General Editor of the Oxford Shakespeare, alongside Richard Proudfoot, General Editor of the Arden Shakespeare take diametrically opposed opinions on the publication of the play in a major modern critical series of Shakespeare’s plays, however peacefully they expressed their opinions. While Wells opposed the publication of the play under the banner of THE ARDEN SHAKESPEARE, arguing for the misleading nature of the way in which the edition is marketed, he does not doubt that there is a bit of “Shakespearean DNA” found in it somewhere. Proudfoot, on the other hand, fervently stood behind his decision to include it in the series (despite the controversial issues of canonicity that it raises) on the notion that it is important to provide an excellent edition of a play about which there is so much critical debate and interest. Greg Doran took a different stance on the play, for while he admits that its textual history is important, as a director for the theatre, he is more interested in how the thing in itself works as a piece for performance.

After the event, Brean Hammond was kind enough to join us in the bookshop for a video interview which can be accessed by clicking here.

Signed copies of Double Falsehood, along with signed copies of the original Cardenio manuscripts can be purchased in the Shakespeare Bookshop.*

*Signed copies of the original Cardenio manuscripts can not actually be purchased in the Shakespeare Bookshop, but I would be happy to hear from anyone who may know where to find them. I wanted to be sure you were reading carefully.

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