By Roger Chartier
How should still we learn a textual content that doesn't exist, or current a play the manuscript of that is misplaced and the id of whose writer can't be validated for certain?
Such is the enigma posed through Cardenio – a play played in England for the 1st time in 1612 or 1613 and attributed 40 years later to Shakespeare (and Fletcher). Its plot is that of a ‘novella’ inserted into Don Quixote, a piece that circulated in the course of the significant international locations of Europe, the place it used to be translated and tailored for the theatre. In England, Cervantes’ novel was once identified and brought up even ahead of it was once translated in 1612 and had encouraged Cardenio.
But there's extra at stake during this enigma. This used to be a time while, thank you frequently to the discovery of the printing press, there has been a proliferation of discourses. there has been usually a response whilst it used to be feared that this proliferation could develop into over the top, and lots of writings have been weeded out. now not all have been destined to outlive, specifically performs for the theatre, which, in lots of circumstances, have been by no means released. This style, positioned on the backside of the literary hierarchy, used to be well matched to the life of ephemeral works. even though, if an writer grew to become recognized, the will for an archive of his works caused the discovery of textual relics, the recovery of remainders ruined via the passing of time or, which will fill within the gaps, every so often, even the fabrication of forgeries. Such was once the destiny of Cardenio within the eighteenth century.
Retracing the background of this play as a result leads one to ask yourself concerning the prestige, some time past, of works this present day judged to be canonical. during this ebook the reader will rediscover the malleability of texts, remodeled as they have been by means of translations and variations, their migrations from one style to a different, and their altering meanings developed through their a variety of publics. because of Roger Chartier’s forensic abilities, clean mild is solid upon the secret of a play missing a textual content yet no longer an author.