Abstract and Keywords
Accepting that the controversy over Shakespeare’s possible revision of his tragedies has largely passed, this chapter explores the centuries-long speculation that the dramatist rewrote some of the works that are received as his greatest: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear. Like today’s editors, their eighteenth- and nineteenth-century predecessors never found evidence persuasive enough to make the claim of authorial revision with certainty when there is variation between early printed texts of the tragedies, or even to tell the difference between such revision and possibly extra-authorial playhouse adaptation. Some recent editors’ decisions to edit the tragedies as if they could be known to have been rehandled by Shakespeare appear to arise principally from theory-driven motivations, in the absence of any evidence to support them and in the presence of documentary evidence that resists them.
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