Pericles, Day 1
*Discussion questions will be up soon…I’m a little behind since I was delayed getting a copy of the text.
Why Pericles Has Perished:
Pericles (1607-1608), the first of Shakespeare’s four romances (followed by Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest), holds a less than favorable position in Shakespeare’s canon, and this is due in part to the fact that the first two acts were believed to have been written, not by Will, but by George Wilkins, one of his contemporaries and a known whoremonger. Harold Bloom describes the play as “uneven (even mutilated)…very peculiar in genre.” These two facts alone help to explain why I have found it impossible to locate a copy of the individual play this week in every bookstore I have attempted. I found other less frequently read/taught plays such as Two Gentlemen of Verona, Titus Andronicus, Coriolanus, and even Cymbeline (on the Summer Reading schedule for next week), but no Pericles. I know, I know, I should have ordered it online. Interestingly, in spite of how difficult it is to purchase (live, in person) a copy of Pericles to read (short of buying Shakespeare’s complete works), it does get staged, just not often, though it has received a healthy run in the last few years (see below). Perhaps, its irregular, episodic structure and fantastical plot speaks more to our postmodern sensibilities.
Useful analysis and context from Folger Shakepseare Library.
E-text via Project Gutenberg.
Curtain Up review of 2005 London Globe production.
Review of summer 2008 San Francisco Shakespeare Festival production.
*Image of 1609 title page is from Folger link above.