The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition: The Complete Works.

Books Someone should send a copy of this to Germaine Greer, whom as I discovered a couple of weeks ago doesn't believe that any of Shakspeare's plays were collaborations. If the evidence here is correct (and I'll be reading the authorship companions shortly), nearly a third of the plays in the folio contain words by someone else, either due to collaboration or later rewrites. Whole sections of Measure for Measure are by Thomas Middleton, including a line which later became an essay question for the A-Level English Literature (which I failed but that's probably not the

Utilising a hard chronological approach (based on theories of when works were written and published), the editors have chosen include the versions of the plays which contain the most of Shakespeare's words (hiving off other versions into an edition containing "alternatives"). My taste would have been to have included all versions of all texts, but I suppose you might ask were this would stop. Including all three Hamlets and both Lears is one thing, but what if the different editions only contain a variance of a few words or lines? Perhaps the expectation is that for most scholars and fans, this won't be the only copy of the plays they own.

But it may be the only complete works which contains Double Falsehood and the 1602 rewrites for The Spanish Tragedy. Except in both case they've chosen to only include the parts of the text they think are by Shakespeare, which leaves the former completely unreadable. We're told that full edited versions are in that alternative volume, but this still feels like a swiz, since mechanisms are surely available which could highlight which sections are his verse and which are not. They're employed elsewhere in the volume (to point out those Middleton additions, for example), so this feels like a missed opportunity.

Mainly all of this is a reminder that because the discourse is focused so strongly on Shakespeare, we're only ever receiving half the story.  We're told that much of the work of his collaborators was simply mundane, but unless it's produced and examined with greater regularity, how are we to compare?  It's a Catch-22.  My instinct is that if Shakespeare was a genius then why would be choose to work with these people if he didn't think they had a valid contribution to make?

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