Lover's Complaint and To the Queen
A very interesting article has appeared in the best internet think-journal, Slate. By Ron Rosenbaum, who's on our advisory board (but didn't have anything to do with the decision in question), it discusses our exclusion of "Lover's Complaint" and inclusion of "To the Queen" in the Complete Works. Here's the link: do read it.
But some clarification is needed. We have not thrown the Complaint out of the entire edition. We have edited and annotated it, and it's here on this website. Furthermore, it will be included -- as will The Passionate Pilgrim -- in our edition of the Sonnets and Poems forthcoming next April. It was excluded from the print Complete because the argument of Vickers and others did enough to persuade us (mainly me, JB) that it belongs in the category of dubia -- uncertain attribution -- along with certain of the Passionate Pilgrim poems and the possibly Shakespearean scenes in Edward III and Arden of Faversham, which we've also edited on the website.
It was only possible to include 2576 pages in the Complete Works. That meant we had to make tough inclusion/exclusion decisions at the margins, and since it is an RSC, a theatre-focused, edition, the Complaint was the loser.
"To the Queen" -- which we call an "epilogue" but the scholar Mick Hattaway has recently, interestingly, suggested may actually have been a post-performance prayer of a kind that was customary at court performances -- was included because it provides a rare window onto an original Shakespearean performance. The provenance is very strong and, when it was played on the Stratford stage by Nicholas Day soon after publication, it sent an authentically Shakespearean shiver down the spines of all who were present. Maybe it was a bit risky, a bit provocative, to give it an upgrade when we were giving Lover's Complaint and Passionate Pilgrim downgrades -- though, to repeat, not ejections -- but taking risks and provoking debates is one of the things most worthwhile about the editorial project. And Rosenbaum's piece is a most welcome addition to the debate.