Double Falsehood - A play by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher

Double Falsehood - A play by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher

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Double Falshood; or, The Distrest Lovers is an early eighteenth century play by the English writer and playwright Lewis Theobald. Many scholars believe it to be an adaptation of a lost play by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher known as Cardenio. Theobald himself claimed his version was based on three manuscripts of an unnamed lost play by Shakespeare.

The 1727 play is based on the "Cardenio" episode in Don Quixote, specifically in Thomas Shelton's 1612 English translation. Theobald's play changes the names of the main characters from the Spanish original; Cervantes' Cardenio becomes Julio, his Lucinda becomes Leonora; Don Fernando is turned into Henriquez, and Dorothea into Violante.

Theobald's claim of a Shakespearean foundation for his Double Falshood met with suspicion, and even accusations of forgery, from contemporary skeptics like Alexander Pope, and from subsequent generations of critics as well. Recently the current scholarly consensus judges the play to be an 18th-century rewriting of the lost Cardenio by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher.The evidence of Shakespeare's connection with a dramatization of the Cardenio story comes from entries in the Stationers' Register; Theobald could not have known of this evidence, "since it was not found until long after his death."

In March 2010, the Arden Shakespeare editors attributed the authorship partly to William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, including it officially in Shakespeare's canon for the first time.

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