The Roughly Chronological Reread: The Chronology

As I launch into my first big personal project for 2017, the Roughly Chronological Re-read, I’d like to acknowledge the amount of guesswork that’s going into this. There is no clear chronology for Shakespeare’s plays. I don’t claim to have discovered one. What I have done is read a lot of other people’s suggestions and drawn up a reading order. I don’t claim that my decisions are anything other than arbitrary. You’re welcome to argue the toss with me. I’ll probably argue it with myself as I go.

So here’s the order I’m planning to use:

Week 1: Two Gentlemen of Verona

Week 2: The Comedy of Errors

Week 3: Henry VI Part II

Week 4: Henry VI Part III

Week 5: Titus Andronicus

Week 6: Richard III

Week 7: The Taming of the Shrew

Week 8: Henry VI Part 1

Week 9: Love’s Labours Lost

Week 10: Romeo & Juliet

Week 11: Richard II

Week 12: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Week 13: King John

Week 14: The Merchant of Venice

Week 15: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Week 16: Henry IV Part 1

Week 17: Henry IV Part 2

Week 18: Much Ado About Nothing

Week 19: As You Like It

Week 20: Henry V

Week: 21: Julius Caesar

Week 22: Hamlet

Week 23: Twelfth Night

Week 24: Troilus & Cressida

Week 25: All’s Well That Ends Well

Week 26: Othello

Week 27: Measure for Measure

Week 28: King Lear

Week 29: Timon of Athens

Week 30: Macbeth

Week 31: Anthony & Cleopatra

Week 32: Pericles

Week 33: Coriolanus

Week 34: Cymbeline

Week 35: A Winter’s Tale

Week 36: The Tempest

Week 37: Henry VIII

Week 38: The Two Noble Kinsmen

About jenbitespeople

Edinburgh-based writer, dramaturg and director. Here you'll find posts about my work, mental health, arts politics and whatever else happens to catch my attention. View all posts by jenbitespeople

3 responses to “The Roughly Chronological Reread: The Chronology

  • Pongo Literatii

    I was wondering about your decisions not to read Double Falsehood, Sir Thomas More and Edward III. I have Arden thirds of the first two (unread) which I assumed I would have to include in any re-read, and Edward III is included in the chronology at Shakespeare’s Words (i.e. David and Ben Crystal).

    NOT a criticism at all – genuinely interested, because it will help me decide whether or not to include them in the re-read (albeit that they are technically not RE-reads at all) …

    • jenbitespeople

      I’ve been swithering over this one. Of those three, the only one I’ve read is Double Falsehood and my decision to leave it out was based on my belief that the script contains Shakespeare in the same way that homeopathic remedies contain active ingredients – maybe it did once, a long time ago, but all that’s left is water. I’m suspicious of the other two because I kind of expect them to prove similar.

      My inclination is to omit anything that hasn’t generally appeared in the Complete Works from the main read, then perhaps tackle the contested/rediscovered/fragmentary plays at the end. I know that takes them out of the timeline, which isn’t ideal (though I’d argue that in the case of Double Falsehood, there’s so much of the 18th century about it that it could very well be dated to the 1720s which completely justifies placing it last). Whether to tackle them as individual pieces, though, or to conclude with a general post on the Apocrypha, or to make mini-posts as I go pertaining to these plays as they appear chronologically… I’m not sure.

      I’ll try to reach some conclusion on this shortly, before we reach the point where Edward III becomes an issue!

  • Dr M. D. Bolsover

    Reblogged this on *the fold of the artist and commented:
    *part I of new project… —the (roughly chronological) order in which Shakespeare’s plays will be read…

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