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Lords, Knights, Gentlemen, Sailors, Pirates, Fishermen,
GOWER, as Chorus.
SCENE: Dispersedly in various countries.
DURATION OF TIME
The story comprises from fifteen to sixteen years, of which fourteen days are represented on the stage, the chief intervals being accounted for by the choruses.
Day 1. I. I.
2. I. 2., 3.
P. A. Daniel, Time Analysis' (Trans. of
Mr. Daniel believes that the play was divided into seven Acts.
PERICLES was first printed in quarto in 1609, with
the following title: THE LATE And much admired Play, called Pericles, Prince of Tyre. | With the true Relation of the whole Historie, | adventures, and fortunes of the said Prince: | As also, | The no less strange and worthy accidents in the Birth and Life, of his daughter | MARIANA. | As it hath been divers and sundry times acted by his Maiesties Seruants, at the Globe on the Banckside. | By William Shakespeare. | Imprinted at London for Henry Gosson, and are to be sold at the signe of the Sunne in Paternoster row, etc. | 1609.
Another, almost identical, edition appeared in the same year; and others followed in 1611, 1619, 1630 and 1635. Of these six editions the best is the first, and this teems with corruptions of every kind. From the sixth quarto the play was reprinted, with unauthentic corrections, by the editors of the Third Folio, 1664, who for the first time included Pericles, in company with several undoubtedly spurious pieces, in the collected works of Shakespeare. It was again reprinted in the Fourth Folio,
It is obvious from the briefest inspection that large parts of Pericles are not by Shakespeare, and this may have contributed to its exclusion from the First and Second Folios; though we cannot
suppose that curious zeal for the perfect authenticity of their text was one of the qualities of the men who included in the Shakespearean canon Titus Andronicus and the First Part of Henry VI., Timon of Athens and Henry VIII. But it is equally unquestionable that a considerable portion is, apart from the extraordinary corruption of the extant texts, absolutely authentic; and the most difficult problem. which Pericles presents concerns the process by which some of Shakespeare's most consummate poetry became embedded in its present environment.
The story of Pericles is taken, with hardly a change of moment, from the romance of Apollonius of Tyre; a story famous throughout the Middle Ages, familiar on the continent through the Gesta Romanorum, and in England also from having been included in his Confessio Amantis by the 'moral' Gower. Το the Elizabethans it was still better known in the prose novel of Laurence Twine (1576, reprinted 1607). As a story, however, it is of the third rank, hardly atoning by a profusion of sensational crimes and calamities for its want of inner coherence and tragic grip. It may be described as a prelude or preliminary story with three concurrent sequels.1 In the prelude, Apollonius guesses the riddle of Antiochus, escapes to Tyre, flies thence to Tharsus, suffers shipwreck and is relieved by the King of Pentapolis, marries his daughter Lucina, returns to Tyre, undergoes a storm off Ephesus, loses his wife, and delivers his infant daughter to the care of a friend of Tharsus
1 The Patterne of Painfull Adventures: Containing the most excellent, pleasant and variable Historie of the strange accidents that be fell unto Prince Apollonius, the Lady Lucina his wife and
Tharsia his daughter. | Wherein the uncertaintie of this world, and the fickle state of man's life are liue-ly described. Gathered into English by LAVRENCE TWINE Gentleman.
(Twine, cc. i.-x.). The threads thus scattered are separately pursued in the three sequels. The first tells the adventures of the lost wife (Twine, viii.-ix.), the second those of the infant daughter (Twine, x.-xiv.), and the third the mourning of Apollonius and his final recovery of both (Twine, xv.-xxiv.).
At no period of his career can Shakespeare have thought of putting this entire complex of loosely connected adventures into the five acts of a play. But to the purveyors of third-rate romance, it was congenial material; and the public for whom they catered, impervious alike to Sidney's lofty ridicule 1 and to Beaumont's riotous burlesque,2 formed the staple of every Elizabethan audience. Our first definite trace of a play on the story is the entry of one called Pericles in the Stationers' Register, 20th May 1608, publication of which was 'to be stayed.' The book so 'stayed' was almost certainly the First Quarto of our Pericles actually published in 1609. For later in the same year was published a prose version of the play by George Wilkins, with the title : "THE Painfull adventures of Pericles Prince of Tyre. Being The true History of the Play of Pericles, as it was lately presented by the worthy and ancient Poet John Gower AT LONDON | Printed by T. P. for Nat. Butter, | 1608.' Not only are the names and incidents identical, but the novel has retained unmistakable fragments of Shakespearean phraseology. In iii. 1. Pericles addresses his new-born infant :
Thou art the rudeliest welcome to this world
Thou hast as chiding a nativity
As fire, air, water, earth, and heaven can make.
1 An Apology for Poetry, part iii. (1580).
2 The Knight of the Burning Pestle (1611).