Of course this is not to say Shakespeare can't write boring or even bad lines. I recently moderated a panel at the Brooklyn Academy of Music featuring the cast of Sam Mendes' production of The Tempest. Because I was hosting the panel, I saw it twice, and it was interesting to see how even good actors couldn't make some of the leaden comedy and words work. It left me thinking again about what made Shakespeare Shakespeare. But then we'd come to one of those great passages in The Tempest: "Full fathom five thy father lies/ and of his bones are coral made" and "like the baseless fabric of this vision/ the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,/ the solemn temples, the great globe itself./ Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve/ and like this insubstantial pageant faded/ leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff/ as dreams are made of/ and our little life rounded with a sleep."
Lines like this send jolts of lightning through you.
There's no shadow of lightning in Double Falsehood. It's a baseless fabric. Which makes its publication as Shakespeare a double shame.
Correction, June 1, 2010: This article originally misspelled the name of Shakespeare scholar Tiffany Stern. (Return to the corrected sentence.)