ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.

Preface.

The First Edition. Antony and Cleopatra was first printed in the First Folio. It is mentioned among the plays entered by Blount in 1623 on the Stationers' Registers as "not formerly entered to other men." A play on the same subject was registered by the same publisher on May 20th, 1608; it was probably the present drama, but for some reason or other no Quarto was issued.

The text of the play, as printed in the First Folio, was probably derived from a carefully written manuscript copy, and is on the whole most satisfactory.

The Date of Composition. There is almost unanimity among scholars in assigning Antony and Cleopatra to 1607-8, i.e. during the year preceding the entry referred to above. This date is corroborated by internal and external evidence. Particularly striking are the results arrived at from the application of the metrical tests. In Antony and Cleopatra the Poet seems for the first time to have allowed himself the freedom of using the unemphatic weak monosyllables at the end of his lines--a characteristic peculiar to the plays of the Fourth Period.* The rhyme test and the feminine ending test similarly stamp the play as belonging to the same late period. So far as "date" of composition is concerned, Antony andCleopatra

____________________
*
Antony and Cleopatra numbers 28 "weak endings"; Coriolanus 44, Cymbeline 52, Winter's Tale 43, Tempest 25, while Macbeth contains but 2 instances, Hamlet none; no play before Antony has more than 2; most of them have none at all.
Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus have each 42 rhymes.

-1-

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