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Shakespeare, Pericles, Chorus


Pericles, swept along by the wave of interest in Shakespeare's romances, has lately received its due share of critical and theatrical attention, but it remains something of a bastard child. Pericles was originally labelled a "problem" because oof the textual controversy—exclusion from the 1623 folio, evidence of joint authorship—and the label sticks because of the common complaint that the play somehow feels different from the other plays in the canon. Uneven in style and random in structure, it seems almost to provoke disengagement. It actively resists expectations of casual plot and frustrates the urge to identify with characters on stage. This distancing effect has been attributed to the dominance of spectacle and narrative in the play, the result of Shakespeare's conversion of romance narrative into drama. The device of the Chorus, an antiquated stage convention by 1608, and Gower's own antique figure (as Chorus) effectively distance the audience from the dramatized action.