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Additional resources for Early Modern Authorship and Prose Continuations: Adaptation and Ownership from Sidney to Richardson
326 with these words’ and afterward, ‘Sir Philip Sidney’s second part beginneth at pag. 347 lin. 5’. The placement given Alexander over Johnstoun may have been due to priority in publication, or to Alexander’s higher social status (by 1638, while still named on the title page as a ‘Knight’ like Sidney himself, Alexander had been made Earl of Stirling). The fact remains that two supplements, in this case, were clearly a crowd: although it is advertised on the title page, Johnstoun’s text remains tagged on as an unpaginated afterthought, outside the sequential flow of the narrative in which Alexander and Belling are included.
By that time, however, the publishers were not looking for a second ‘sixth book’ to add to the two supplements and one continuation already contained within the volume. Instead, the ‘Additions’ incorporated in 1655 sought to explicate rather than continue the narrative – they include a table of the principal characters, a frontispiece portrait of Sidney as an antique knight, and an account of his life and death by ‘Philophillipos’. 6 As Dennis Kay writes, ‘With the Restoration came a change of taste that was to lead to a marked decline in Sidney’s literary reputation.
Florio argues that, rather than simply leaving a lacuna in the narrative, Sidney’s death rendered the entire project of publishing an ‘ended’ Arcadia unworkable: although they may have been ‘above all’ in the Old Arcadia, the last three books cannot plausibly be attached to the New. Far more about the story is left ‘vnknowne’, therefore, than the 1593 editors acknowledge. Maurice Evans argues that, apart from Florio (whom he dismisses as biased), ‘no critic until modern times is on record as complaining about the lack of unity of the work’; unaware of its textual history, seventeenth-century audiences apparently read the published Arcadia ‘without objection’ (13).