A Spectator’s Role
This Appendix recognizes the omission from this book, so far, of full discussion of two scripts from the First Folio that are normally included among Shakespeare’s tragedies: Titus Andronicus and Timon of Athens. In relegating them to this marginal role in the present book, I do so only because they do not seem to meet the positive specifications of this book’s opening paragraph, and not because of questions about their authorship. However, partly because of their generally admitted awkwardness, these two relatively neglected tragedies do invite ascription of major parts of them to Shakespeare collaborators: with Titus, to George Peele; and, with Timon, to Thomas Middleton. T. S. Eliot notoriously called Titus “one of the stupidest and most uninspired plays ever written.” (Selected Essays, 55) D. J. Palmer more wittily defined it as “The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable,” adding more illuminatingly that he saw in it how “tragedy is transformed into jest.” (Critical Quarterly, 336) And Timon has fared little better.
Yet there remain valid grounds for including these two plays here, even if only marginally to my presentation. I must recognize that the unpredictable audience interest in them, whether Elizabethan or modern, requires scholars and critics to recognize both Titus and Timon more respectfully, despite their distastefulness to many sensibilities. And modern scholarship insists that Titus in particular also reflects the influence of relevant Italian precedents. Mariangela Tempera calls Cinthio’s Orbecche the “trail-blazer of horror Italian style,” saying that “For ← 173 | 174 → its...
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