The Baroque in English Neoclassical Literature

By J. Douglas Canfield | Go to book overview

9
Rowe and Pope and Tonson/Gildon and
Curll: Parasitically Meant

AS THE NEOCLASSICAL AGE BEGAN TO REGULARIZE WILLIAM SHAKEspeare in a manner giving birth to bardolatry, there occurred a hilarious episode in literary history. In a bizarre, baroque trick, a neoclassical critic, Charles Gildon, tacked onto Rowe’s edition of Shakespeare a parasitic excrescence that neither Nicholas Rowe nor his publisher Jacob Tonson nor his successor as Tonson’s editor of Shakespeare, Alexander Pope, could shake off.


PARASITIC PIRACY IN THE TONSON SHAKESPEARE

In midsummer 1709 Jacob Tonson published The Works of Mr. William Shakespear, edited by Nicholas Rowe, in six volumes. It was the first newly edited publication of Shakespeare’s “works” since the Folio edition of 1623, which was reprinted with slight changes thrice more until 1685.1 Rowe’s edition of the “works” includes only plays, however, some of them spurious at that, and at the end of the preface, “Some Account of the Life, &c. of Mr. William Shakespear,” Rowe, along with some remarks on attribution, glances briefly at the omitted poems:

Besides his Plays in this Edition, there are two or three ascrib’d to
him by Mr. Langbain, which I have never seen, and know nothing
of. He writ likewise, Venus and Adonis, and Tarquin and Lucrece, in
Stanza’s, which have been printed in a late Collection of Poems….
There is a book of poems, publish’d in 1640, under the Name of Mr.
William Shakespear, but as I have but very lately seen it, without an
Opportunity of making any Judgment upon it, I won’t pretend to de-
termine, whether it be his or no.

(1:xxxix-xl)

-117-

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The Baroque in English Neoclassical Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Foreword 9
  • Acknowledgments 13
  • Introduction 15
  • List of Abbreviations 21
  • 1 - Milton: Mysteriously Meant 25
  • 2 - Cavendish and Philips: Metaphysically Meant 34
  • 3 - Waller and Etherege: Materially Meant 42
  • 4 - Dorset and Sedley: Mischievously Meant 50
  • 5 - Buckingham and Rochester: Reflexively Meant 63
  • 6 - Behn: Paradoxically Meant 77
  • 7 - Dryden: Cryptically Meant 91
  • 8 - Killigrew and Finch: Ventriloquently Meant 107
  • 9 - Rowe and Pope and Tonson/Gildon and Curll: Parasitically Meant 117
  • 10 - Pope: Metaphorically Meant 125
  • 11 - Pope: Mockingly Meant 143
  • 12 - Montagu: Surrogately Meant 154
  • 13 - Swift: Eccentrically Meant 164
  • 14 - Gay and Fielding: Absurdly Meant 174
  • Concluding Meditation 188
  • Appendix Poems Less Readily Available 193
  • Notes 217
  • List of Secondary Works Cited 235
  • Index 243
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