The Politics of Gender, Puritanism, and Shakespeare's Third Folio

By Finkelstein, Richard | Philological Quarterly, Summer 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Politics of Gender, Puritanism, and Shakespeare's Third Folio


Finkelstein, Richard, Philological Quarterly


Nicholas Rowe and Alexander Pope were probably reluctant to see their editions of Shakespeare include six plays, now called "apocryphal." (1) Philip Chetwind first bound these plays, and Pericles, to Shakespeare's works for a second printing of the 1663/ 64 Third Folio. Although dismissive of their worth, even the careful Edmund Malone edited a supplement which appended them to the 1778 Johnson-Steevens edition. The analyses of recent scholars differ, but they generally agree that Shakespeare's editors help create his identity. (2) With minimal introductory matter and light editing, the Third and Fourth Folios primarily construct an identity for their Shakespeare by adding works. Because readers make inferences about authors based on the material assemblage of their writings, we can conclude that the Restoration not only knew a uniquely defined Shakespeare, but understood him and his plays in terms of the seven newly added in 1663-64. (3)

These Third Folio additions brought Pericles into the canon. The London Prodigal (1605), Thomas, Lord Cromwell (1602), 1 Sir John Oldcastle (1600), The Puritan or The Widow of Watling Street (1607), A Yorkshire Tragedy (1608), and Locrine (1595) remain spurious, even outrageous, attributions. (4) Some of the Folio's assignments to Shakespeare are understandable: the King's Men owned and acted A Yorkshire Tragedy; Shakespeare's full name appears on the title pages of its quartos. The London Prodigal quarto assigns itself to Shakespeare and his players. Although only attributed to "W.S.," Cromwell Q1 claims the Lord Chamberlain's Men and Q2, the King's Men, a change which suggests careful if mistaken attribution. (5) For some of the other plays, attaching Shakespeare's name now seems extraordinary. Henslowe specifically assigns Oldcastle to Munday, Drayton, Wilson, and Hathaway. The Puritan was performed by Paul's Boys, a rival company in ways that make Shakespeare's involvement impossible.

Textual scholars and historians of publishing usually dismiss such obviously faulty attributions as the consequence of greedy dishonesty or foolish ignorance. (6) However, these texts have a history involving so many people in a range of relationships so tangled that it is risky to assign one motive to publishers and printers. W.W. Greg is not alone in arguing that Philip Chetwind, publisher of the Third Folio, "was not altogether without excuse in making his additions to the Canon, though in fact he can have known very little about the plays he was reprinting." (7) By 1663, the dealers' catalogues of Archer (1656) and Kirkman (1661) listed six of the plays as Shakespeare's. (8) Such confusion derives partly from the fact that seventeenth-century England was less interested in authors than in texts, as G. R. Proudfoot reminds us. Hence, "contaminated" records still frustrate modern editors, despite ebbing ambitions to remove "impurities" from the canon and clear Shakespeare's "mighty name," two of Tucker Brooke's goals. (10)

In fact, "impurities" provide a useful register of many related events, including the process that created Shakespeare's material identity in the 1660s; the Protestant, political ideologies that shaped this identity; and the copyowners' positioning of the Folio for a Restoration market. Because marketing and political activities both reflect and lead public opinion, throughout this essay I make two kinds of overlapping speculations: about how the compilers wanted Shakespeare to be seen; and about decisions to emphasize issues which would generate readership. Controversies related to the Puritan interregnum--theological, social and domestic-influenced additions to the Restoration folio. Some external evidence, along with the group's ideological configuration, also supports speculation that Eleanor Cotes, an active female printer and copyholder, importantly shaped the Folio's contents.

A 1660s' reading audience would have had its taste formed during the Puritan interregnum.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Politics of Gender, Puritanism, and Shakespeare's Third Folio
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?