Attribution and Tribute in Pericles
The figure of Gower in Pericles used to embarrass with his quaintness; nowadays, as often as not, he dazzles with his theatrical savoir faire. His choric role is increasingly recognised as a functional part of the play’s dramatic method, while the function itself has become the chief subject of debate, most of which concerns the issue of mediation: does the Chorus create alienation or engagement, and exactly how?1 The proliferation of aesthetic arguments reflects a welcome tendency to approach the play as a textual entity, whatever its circumstances of composition and however ‘incoherent’ its style. At the same time, the poststructuralist problematisation of authorship as a concept can be invoked to avoid even positing an assumption of responsibility by a single dramatist — presumably Shakespeare — for the work’s final form. And this absence of an author, after years of author-hunting, throws into relief the metadramatic investment of the Chorus — the play’s most stable presence, after all, and inevitably the audience’s confidant — with precisely that responsibility, and so with authority over the narrative and its meanings.
KeywordsBook VIII Textual Entity Stable Presence Henry Versus Power Attribution
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