William Shakespeare and the Birth of Merlin by Mark Dominik
New York : Philosophical Library, 1985. Hardcover. 213 pages ; 22 cm. $19.95 dust jacket with minimal wear. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND THE BIRTH OF MERLIN
Seventeenth-century sources are unanimous in attributing the play The Birth of Merlin to William Shakespeare and his younger contemporary, William Rowley. Most critics and scholars have consistently rejected this idea—at least as far as Shakespeare is concerned. In this new study of the play Dominik discusses a large and varied body of evidence in support of the original attribution. He argues that on the basis of strong internal evidence. The Birth of Merlin should be accepted as a late-Shakespearean collaborative work, similar to and contemporaneous with Shakespeare's late collaborations with John Fletcher: Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen.
The Birth of Merlin is a Jacobean version of a part of the Arthurian legend, dealing with the life of Arthur's father (Uter Pendragon), his brother Aurelius, the usurper Vortiger, and, of course. Merlin the Magician. The play shares clear thematic and stylistic resemblances to Shakespeare's distinctive late period romances, such as Pericles and The Tempest. Analyses of text and spelling, a survey of imagery, and a close scene-by-scene study of style all provide evidence that Shakespeare did indeed co-author The Birth of Merlin.
Dominik draws on the work of leading Shakespearean scholars and those in related fields— most notably Samuel Schoenbaum, Kenneth Muir. Caroline Spurgeon, and Frances A. Yates—to support his research and controversial conclusion.
Included is a complete text of The Birth of Merlin. It is from the C.F. Tucker Brooke edition of the Shakespeare Apocrypha.
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