978-0-415-02702-1 / 9780415027021

Pericles (Arden Shakespeare)


Publisher:Van Nostrand Reinhold



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About the book:

Controversy has surrounded Pericles for centuries, due to the fact that critics and editors have argued that much of the play was written between 1607 and 1608 by one of Shakespeare's inferior collaborators, and that it shows in both its style and content. However, Shakespeare was clearly the driving force behind the play, and it is important to remember that it was one of the most popular plays of its time.

Famous for its resurrection of John Gower, the 14th-century English writer, who acts as the play's chorus, Pericles is a play which is obsessed with incest. The dramatic action begins in Antioch, where Pericles travels to solve the riddle of King Antiochus, who "to incest did provoke" his daughter. When Pericles realises Antiochus' terrible secret, he flees, wandering the seas, where he meets his wife Thaisa, who apparently dies whilst giving birth to her daughter Marina during a terrible storm. Pericles' grief is compounded by the apparent death of his daughter whilst staying at Tarsus some months later. She has in fact been sold into sexual slavery, and as Pericles resumes his wanderings, 16 years later Marina battles to retain her "peevish chastity". As with many of Shakespeare's later plays, or romances, recognition and reunion occurs in the most unlikely of circumstances. Despite questions of authorship and textual corruption, Pericles continues to fascinate audiences and critics with its dark and ambivalent account of the relations between fathers and daughters. --Jerry Brotton

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