The relation of The comedy of errors to Plautine sources




Gill, Erma May

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Recent interest in The Comedy of Errors has brought forth two editions of that play, the new Cambridge edition, by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch and Professor J. Dover Wilson, in 1922, and the Yale edition by Professor Robert D. French, in 1926. A study by Professor Allison Gaw, "The Evolution of The Comedy of Errors," appeared in Publications of the Modern Language Association, September, 1926. Thus the entire problem of Shakespeare's sources for this play has been raised anew; the Cambridge editors and Professor Gaw strongly champion the theory that Shakespeare in The Comedy of Errors was revising an old play, which was entered on the Accounts of the Revels for 1576/77 as the Historie of Error, but of which nothing but the name survives. Professor French, in his brief introduction, takes a neutral stand on the question, but warns the reader that there is no actual proof that an old play based on the Menaechmi and the Amphitruo of Plautus, such as has been postulated, ever existed. Personally I had become interested in this subject before Professor Gaw's article was published, and his article has led me to further investigation. The result of this investigation has been the study of the entire relation of Shakespeare's play to the Plautine sources