Can <i>Double Falsehood</i> Be Merely a Forgery by Lewis Theobald?

Richard Proudfoot

in The Quest for Cardenio

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199641819
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191749025 | DOI:
Can Double Falsehood Be Merely a Forgery by Lewis Theobald?

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This chapter rejects the allegation, current since 1728, that Double Falsehood is Theobald’s original composition, masquerading as Shakespeare. Connection with the plays written by Shakespeare and Fletcher between c.1602 and c.1614, especially their two collaborations, Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen, is demonstrated by close examination of the 100 line-end polysyllables in the verse scenes of Double Falsehood (a quantifiable feature of versification preserved by Theobald at rates of 60% and 40% respectively in his adaptations of Shakespeare’s Richard II (1715) and Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi (as The Fatal Secret, 1735)). Theobald’s ‘falsehood’ was to make a loud and very public claim for Shakespeare as sole author of a play, putatively the ‘lost’ Cardenio, that he had good reason to believe — but (too) strenuously denied — also contained the work of Fletcher

Keywords: forgery; adaptation; line-end polysyllables; versification; Arden Shakespeare; Fletcher; Double Falsehood; Theobald; Henry VIII; the Two Noble Kinsmen; Richard II; Duchess of Malfi; Fatal Secret

Chapter.  8924 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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