London: Printed by T.M. for Joseph Hindmarsh, at the Black-Bull in Cornhill, 1682.
Quarto: 21 x 16.5 cm. [viii], 64pp. Collation: A-I4
A very good copy in 20th c. reversed calf. Small tear at lower blank corner of title (far from text), occ. minor soiling, light dampstain to outer margin of lvs. F1-4, text cut close at head, costing some page numbers and sometimes coming close to (and a few times just touching) the first line of text. Final leaf dusty.
First edition of one of the scarcer Restoration Shakespeare adaptations. Tate reworked that play in response to the turbulent political crisis of his day.
Shakespeare composed Coriolanus sometime between 1605 and 1610. While it is conjectured, based on contemporary clues (the theaters were closed due to plague until December 1609, and Jonson parodied of a line from the play in late 1609 or early 1610), that Coriolanus was performed around December-January 1609/10, the first performance for which we have concrete evidence is the staging of Tate’s adaptation on 14 January 1681/2 (although it probably premiered in December 1681.)
“The premiere inaugurates both the play’s recorded theatrical career and seven of the most politically turbulent decades in England’s history. The struggle for power between king and parliament, recurrent Jacobite crises, and the birth pangs of the party system created a mood of national anxiety not unlike the Jacobean-Roman apprehension that inhabits ‘Coriolanus’, a circumstance not lost on contemporary playwrights and theater managers…
“[Shakespeare’s] Coriolanus, as sage and study agree, is not a comfortable play. Hacked as it were out of granite, its austere grandeur invites admiration rather than affection… The cast of principal characters is small, and their passions are crude and elemental. None, save perhaps Virgilia, stakes any unequivocal claim to our sympathy. Language has little more affective appeal than character…. The play’s conclusion brings no comforting insight, no reassuring accommodation with destiny: merely a deafening crash as irresistible fore meets immovable object…
“The aesthetic form in which Tate recast Shakespeare’s creation was precisely contrived to modulate its disorientation and alienation into fully declared meaning, to stabilize its moral and tragic focus, to enforce credibility through sensibility, and to consummate the exercise in a burst of quasi-religious transcendence.”(Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, p. 54 ff.).
Bartlett, Mr. William Shakespeare, 176; ESTC R3412 (under Tate); Wing T190; Woodward & McManaway Check List of English Plays 1641- 1700, 1203