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Defining ShakespearePericles as Test Case$
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MacDonald P. Jackson

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199260508

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199260508.001.0001

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Introduction to Pericles and the Shakespeare Canon

Introduction to Pericles and the Shakespeare Canon

(p.11) Chapter Two Introduction to Pericles and the Shakespeare Canon
Defining Shakespeare


Oxford University Press

This chapter provides an introduction to Pericles and the Shakespeare canon. Pericles, it is widely agreed, is the first of Shakespeare's ‘last plays’, that highly distinctive group of romances and tragicomedies. However, it was omitted from the First Folio collection of his plays assembled by his friends and fellow actors after his death and published in 1623. The very gateway to the final period of Shakespeare's playwrighting career is thus obstructed by thorny problems of text and authorship. Investigation of the authorship of Pericles can scarcely be disentangled from broader issues concerning the Shakespeare canon as a whole and the methods by which it is most convincingly to be defined. T.S. Eliot held that ‘the full meaning of any one’ of Shakespeare's plays ‘is not in itself alone, but in that play in the order in which it was written, in its relation to all of Shakespeare's other plays’.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, Pericles, Shakespeare canon, romances, tragicomedies, First Folio, Eliot

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