1991

Response: American Acclimatization Society

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 129. Friday, 10 May 1991.
 
Subject: 2.0121  Query: American Acclimatization Society
Comment: 	Re: SHK 2.0121  Query: American Acclimatization Society
Date: 		Thu, 9 May 91 11:17:24 CDT
From: 		Michael Dobson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
 
To: Edward Z. Kellogg, via Ken Steele and any interested SHAKSPERians
 
Dear Sir --
 
	You have probably gathered by now, as I have, from the
National Union Catalogue that The American Acclimatization Society published
its Charter and By-Laws in New York in 1871; there's a copy in the
New York Public Library.  If you succeed in obtaining access to this
doubtless fascinating document, I should be delighted to hear about it,
although I must say that the cultural dimensions of the phenomenon interest
me rather more than do the biological ones. (The idea that all the starlings
in the U.S. are metaphorical deputies for the offstage one imagined saying
'Mortimer, Mortimer' in *1 Henry IV* is a very striking one...and what were
they planning to do about the Phoenix?)
 
        If it's of the remotest interest, while we're on the subject of
ecologically dubious expressions of American bardolatry, what claims to be
the first 'Shakespeare garden' in the States was established on the campus
at Northwestern University as part of the 1916 tricentennial celebrations;
lots of plants mentioned in the plays, a vague simulacrum of a knot-garden,
and a fetching memorial complete with suitable quotations from *MSND* and
*W'sT*.  It's a very pleasant place (at this time of year), if inevitably
totally unlike any possible English garden due to the horrors of the
Chicago climate.  The same impulse to cling to some degree of
referentiality for the American Shakespeare, to prevent American readers
always feeling that the details of his texts are preoccupied with a
never-never land somewhere else, seems to fuel the (continuing?) project of
nurturing such gardens as presumably drove the Bardolatrous element in the
American Acclimatization Society.
 
	Curious to hear more about the whole strange business, I remain
 
				               yrs ever
 
						Michael Dobson
						c/o Dept of English
    						    Northwestern University

Blayney on Booksellers

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 128. Wednesday, 8 May 1991.
 
	[I was flattered by the recent cross-posting of my review of
	Peter Blayney's *The First Folio of Shakespeare* from SHAKSPER
	to FICINO, and still more pleased that the cross-posting
	brought a few new SHAKSPEReans among us.
 
	The following response was generated on FICINO, and it seems
	appropriate to redistribute it here.
 
	I repeat my invitation to others to describe, however formally
	or informally they wish, their own recent reading in and
	around Shakespeare...  -- k.s.]
 
 
FROM: Ficino, 6 May 1991: Blayney on booksellers
 
Date: 		Sun, 5 May 91 16:01 -0300
From: 		Daniel Woolf <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Subject: 	Re: Ficino: review
 
	Those interested in Peter Blayney's work might be
interested in the tour de force paper he give at the recent
Shakespeare Association of America meetings in Vancouver last
March.  Using an impressive array of colour coded maps, he
presented his case for knowing exactly where in Paul's churchyard
all of the late 16th early 17th c. booksellers were, and the
dimensions of their shops, using information about them
from reconstruction plans after the Great Fire.  This is to
appear in print in the not too distant future.
 
					Daniel Woolf

The Death of Fredson Bowers

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 126. Sunday, 5 May 1991.
 
Date: 		Sat, 4 May 1991 13:22:40 -0400
From: 		Roy Flannagan <FLANNAGA@OUACCVMB>
Subject: 	The death of Fredson Bowers
 
I have just heard through another email list (C18-L) that Fredson Bowers
died April 11th, just before he was to address a distinguished
gathering of bibliographers at a conference in New York.  As his pupil
at the University of Virginia in the early Sixties, I will miss his
advice, his wisdom, his intellectual toughness and his great common
sense, both publicly, in his editorial work and his writing, and
personally, in his letters to me.  He is one of the few human beings for
whom I would use the French adjective *formidable*.  He was feared,
sometimes hated, sometimes mocked in fear, always held in awe.  He was a
legend, his name enough to invoke hushed tones on buses at the MLA
convention.  He singlehandly re-built the English Department at the
University to the national prominence it enjoys today, hiring only the
best, seeking and obtaining endowed chairs, knowing to the penny what
his budget was at the same time he never ceased looking for talent and
supreme intelligence.  In his private life, he lived an Horatian ideal,
in an open neoclassical house that overlooked a vista that would have
made Capability Brown proud to have designed it.  In his versatility, he
judged dog shows and wrote books about show dogs, he wrote for many
years a classical music column for the best newspaper in the state, and
he could talk on any subject, usually with authority.  He was a great
debater.  He had the sharpest mind and the strongest intellect of any
academic I have ever known.  His classes were sharply focused, taking
the whole semester to cover ten Donne poems or three acts of *Hamlet*.
In his course on Shakespeare's tragedies, I needed to be so sharp for
the examination I stood on my head in the hall outside the classroom,
just in order to get the blood circulating in my brain, only to get the
second-highest grade in the class (after Barbara Mowat): that was the
kind of peformance he inspired.  Though Mr. Bowers was legendary also
for his ruthless culling of people whom he did not think measured up to
the best standards, I have never had reason not to think him fair and
unemotional in all his most important decisions.
 
Mr. Bowers (it was the reverse snobbery of "the University" to call all
those who had PhDs "Mr." or "Mrs.") had not only the strongest intellect
I have ever seen, he had a keen sense of elegance and decorum, even of
beauty, all of which were personified in the wife he wooed very late in
life, Nancy Hale, herself a fine writer, a kind of American Simone
DeBeauvoir in her manner and bearing.
 
Mr. Bowers abhorred sentimentality.  When I wrote him expressing sorrow
for his loss of Nancy Hale, he wrote back but never mentioned his
bereavement.  Life was for the living and for work, which gave meaning
to life.  His not mentioning what he felt was characteristic, because
his feelings were not as important to the world as his ideas.
 
Mr. Bowers admitted some of his compromises in letters to me in his
normalizing usage in some texts.  The compromises were humane rather than
intellectually lazy.  They represented decisions on behalf of the
reader's understanding, never compromises with quality.  He never
compromised in questions of quality.
 
He would not have wanted to be wept over, but he would have wanted the
enormous scope of his achievements appreciated.  I am afraid that I
have failed him, in that I have done both today.
 
						Roy Flannagan

Statistical Authorship Study

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 127. Monday, 6 May 1991.
 
Date: 		Sun, 5 May 1991 20:28:14 -0400
From: 		This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Hardy M. Cook)
Subject: 	Statistical Authorship Study
 
Last year, I responded to a query on HUMANIST about Ward Elliott and his
project.  Below is part of that response.
 
I recently read two articles in the Washington Post on Professor Ward Elliott
of Claremont McKenna College.  I've misplaced the first, which concentrated on
Professor Elliott himself, but I have the other: "Computer Test Authenticates
Shakespeare" by Michael Miller of Reuter, April 21, 1990: C3.
 
The article begins, "A computer program that was fed more than 3 million words
by William Shakespeare and other Elizabethan authors had shown the Bard alone
wrote his works, a university professor said yesterday.  In addition, the
computer may have found eight poems previously not attributed to Shakespeare
that were written by the great playwright and poet."  Elliott claims to have
"fed the largest collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean texts ever put into a
computer."  Elliott is quoted as saying, "We've got the King James Bible,
every poem written by Shakespeare and material from 30 or so claimants [to
Shakespeare's works]."  Elliott used a program devised by Rob Valenza, which
"runs a battery of eight tests on every word.  The main test, known as modal
analysis, or the Valenza test, looks for interrelationships between
words. . . .  Those authors who did pass the Valenza test were subjected to
seven more tests looking for word frequency, words used to begin lines,
metrical ways of ending lines, whether the line was punctuated at the end,
relative clauses, compound words, hyphenated compound words, and frequency of
exclamation marks.  These were then compared to Shakespeare's
characteristics."  Both Louis Marder of Shakespeare Newsletter and Charlton
Ogburn, an Oxfordian, are cited as dismissing the study.  The article
concludes by noting that Elliott nevertheless, "is convinced someone
other than Shakespeare is the true author," citing the elitist argument
that no one from the "rustic backwater" of Stratford could have been
sophisticated and knowledgeable enough to write the plays and poems
attributed to him.
                         Hardy M. Cook
                         This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
PS: Elliott's work has only been with the poetry not the whole canon.
There have been several articles in the Shakespeare Newsletter (Spring 1990
and Fall 1990) on Elliott's project.  I would be glad to scan these most
recent pieces and email them to anyone who is interested.

Discount Variorum Volumes

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 125. Sunday, 5 May 1991.
 
Date: 		Sat, 4 May 1991 10:55:26 -0400
From: 		Roy Flannagan <FLANNAGA@OUACCVMB>
Subject: 	Variorum good deal
 
I did order all three of the variorum volumes (and no, I have no
connection with MLA) and will attest to the fact that they are
invaluable as references for day to day teaching of Shakespeare.  In
teaching AYLI last week, for instance, the Variorum helped settle the
problem of why the character is *Sir* Oliver Martext (like the Italian
"Ser"; a translation of "Dominus" indicating that Oliver had taken only
the first degree of Bachelor of Arts and hence might well be rather
ignorant).  This particular volume reflects scholarship through 1975 and
is admirably and clearly organized; it is very easy to use and seems
terse but thorough, with very high standards of accuracy in reproducing
both texts and annotation.
						Roy Flannagan

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