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The Anachronistic Shrews



JAMES J. MARINO


A single line in the Folio text of The Taming of the Shrew seems to point to dates decades apart. A performer identified by his speech heading as “Sinklo,” the actor John Sincklo or Sincler, recalls a stage character named “Soto,” presumably the character from John Fletcher's Women Pleased. Sinklo's name is used to argue for an early date for the play, sometimes as early as 1592, while the allusion to Soto suggests a date around 1620. Scholars intent on setting an early date for the 1623 text and on preserving its priority to the 1594 Taming of a Shrew apply very different evidentiary standards to Sinklo's and Soto's names. Sinklo is used to certify an early date, although the length of the actor's career has never been established. Soto is treated as a crux to be resolved in the context of an early date for the play, rather than as a piece of evidence to establish that date. Editors have presented a number of hypotheses for Soto's seemingly anachronistic name; while none of these have been completely persuasive, they do suggest that the 1623 Shrew text might be later than the 1594 Shrew or that hands other than Shakespeare's might have made significant revisions to the play. In The Taming of the Shrew, the methods of textual scholarship have been subordinated to the preservation of Shakespeare's authority.



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