A most pleasant comedy of Mucedorus
Goss, David A.
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The English Renaissance romantic comedy Mucedorus survives in no less than seventeen complete quartos, making it the most widely printed English play prior to the Restoration. It was first performed in the early 1590s, and then printed in 1598 from either a text reconstructed from the memory of the actor who played Mouse, with the consultation of a lost manuscript or playbook, or from a shortened version of the play intended for provincial performance by amateur actors. Sometime between 1603 and 1610, Mucedorus was revived by the King's Men for a performance before King James. This performance included the addition of a dedication, three new scenes, and revisions to the last scene and the epilogue. A slightly revised quarto was printed in 1606, and a quarto including the additions made for the play's revival was printed in 1610 (sometimes referred to as the "B-text"). Based on Mucedorus 's association with the King's Men, rumors began to circulate in the 17 th century that the play was authored, in whole or in part, by William Shakespeare. This has caused it to be included in some contemporary catalogues with Shakespeare's name, and has given it a permanent place in the body of plays known today as the Shakespeare apocrypha. Mucedorus 's evident popularity in Early Modern England, together with its association with Shakespeare and current sociological trends in editorial theory, make it an item for renewed scholarly interest. With the ability of electronic resources to create collaborative works, a new edition of Mucedorus has the potential to vividly illustrate the social status of text and the editorial process. This edition argues for the creation of such a text by urging an "open" model of editing similar to the paradigm used for open source software. The text of this edition will be made available online and licensed so that modification and redistribution by its readers are encouraged. The present text is intended to be a base to which relevant scholarship can be added. A conservative approach to editing is used by conflating the quarto texts of 1598 and 1610, providing textual notes similar to those used in other editions of Early Modern dramas, modernizing orthography and punctuation, and adding explanatory notes and glosses.