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'Lost' Shakespeare play to be published

[ 2010-03-18 11:54]     字号 [] [] []  
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The discounted claims of an 18th- century author to have re-shaped the words of Shakespeare into a play are finally being taken seriously by a respected publisher of the Bard's works nearly 300 years later.

Double Falsehood, a play written by Lewis Theobald and first performed in 1727, was based substantially on another work co-written by William Shakespeare more than a century earlier, a leading academic said on Tuesday.

Adding weight to the claim of Professor Brean Hammond of Nottingham University is the fact that the respected Arden Shakespeare publishers will release it in print on March 22.

Its appearance, and the attribution to Shakespeare, is likely to trigger another round of scholarly debate over what the English-speaking world's most famous and influential playwright wrote and what was falsely attributed to him.

For Hammond, the publication of the play next week will be the culmination of years of research. "I started working on it in the 1980s and wrote a couple of articles on the play," he said.

Theobald always claimed his play was based on a lost version of Shakespeare that was in turn based on the story of Cardenio, taken from the novel Don Quixote, by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes.

Hammond said modern scholarship had established that the early work, performed in 1613, was co-written by Shakespeare and John Fletcher. Theobald then substantially re-worked and cut it.

Theobald's work, a story of love and betrayal, was popular with 18th-century audiences, but the playwright was widely dismissed as a fraudster for claiming he had used the words of Shakespeare.

"The play has been rubbished in the past," Hammond said. "It did have a successful theatrical run when it came out, but soon after people began asking questions and thought that it was not a single author play by Shakespeare and we know that it's not."

That interpretation became widely accepted and the play has languished in relative obscurity until now.

"What's left in it now for the modern reader is Shakespeare's DNA," Hammond said.


1 What is the name of the ‘lost’ play?

2 Who wrote it?

3 When was it first performed?


1. Double Falsehood.

2. Lewis Theobald.

3. 1727.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

'Lost' Shakespeare play to be published

About the broadcaster:

'Lost' Shakespeare play to be published

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is fluent in Korean and has a 2-year-old son.