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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: November ::
Authorship
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0908. Wednesday, 9 November 1994.
 
(1)     From:   David Bank <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Nov 1994 18:53:45 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0883 Authorship
 
(2)     From:   Pat Buckridge <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Nov 1994 04:46:52 +1000
        Subj:   Authorship
 
(3)     From:   Donald Foster <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 09 Nov 1994 09:37:53 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0898  Authorship
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bank <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Nov 1994 18:53:45 GMT
Subject: 5.0883 Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0883 Authorship
 
E.L. Epstein's question ("...is there any evidence that Oxford wrote the works
of Kyd or Marston? The dates are about right...") is amusing. But when he asks
"Are the Oxfordians...simply trying to link Oxford to an acknowledged genius
like Shakespeare out of unexaminable motives?" he misses something quite
obvious. The Oxfordians only settle on Shakespeare because, in their view, (a)
the documentary evidence about Shakespeare of Stratford indicates that he was
"low" in estate, and (b) the plays 'ascribed' to him are "high" art, "posh".
It's inconceivable that (b) could issue from (a).
 
The conclusion is unwarrantable. Neither (a) or (b) is correct.
 
David Bank
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Buckridge <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Nov 1994 04:46:52 +1000
Subject:        Authorship
 
A couple of seat-of-the-pants responses to Dave Kathman:
 
1.  There's been some crossing of messages in mid-air lately, so I probably
don't need to stress this after my last posting, but just in case I do: Dave,
don't bother to keep hitting me with new bits of evidence purporting to connect
the Stratford Shakspere with the London one.  I accept their identity, and it
doesn't injure the Oxfordian case in any way. On this one, peace, we agree.
There are bigger fish to fry.
 
2. I said I would hang fire on the Great Hyphenation Debate until I'd been able
to read Matus, but I can't resist the commonsense observation that hyphenation
of the kind we're talking about here *does* have a tendency to connote
attributed functions or qualities.  Whether or not it does this in any given
instance will be determined by a variety of contextual factors, including,
perhaps, decisions of printers. Dave hasn't, by the way, shown that printing
was the key factor in any particular case of hyphenation, let alone all of
them, though his conjectures and speculations on the subject are so vehement
('utterly baseless', etc.) that the inattentive reader might be forgiven for
thinking he had.
 
3. The alleged _Thomas More_ holograph. I don't see that this is worth spending
a lot of time on. I don't care how skeptical and rigorous you're trying to be;
if you've only got six (or more likely five-and-a-half) signatures to work
with, you don't have much. But the main point is that, like the
London/Stratford connection, this has no bearing on the question of authorship.
 The More MS is, as far as I'm aware. usually thought to be a *transcription*
by several hands. If William Shakspere could, at some stage in his life, write
legibly enough to be employed for a bit of transcribing work, what does that
tell us about who wrote this or any other play?  Precisely nothing.
 
4. Finally, the 'double mention' (Oxford and Shakespeare) by Francis Meres.
Dave has set out the alternative explanations pretty fairly. I assume he thinks
they're all self-evidently absurd.  Well all I can say to that is that his
threshold of self-evident absurdity is a bit higher than mine, and several
metres higher than that of most Stratfordians, whose tolerance of far greater
levels of implausibility on any number of issues continues to amaze me.
 
Pat Buckridge
Grififth
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Donald Foster <
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Date:           Wednesday, 09 Nov 1994 09:37:53 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0898  Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0898  Authorship
 
Pat Buckridge writes to Dave Kathman, "[T]here seem to be two assumptions built
into Foster's analysis which as far as I can see completely destroy any claim
it mught make to 'proving' the Stratford authorship. The first is that it
assumes a known order of composition for the plays.  *But we don't.* Therefore,
Foster's comparisons between earlier and later plays in terms of a development
from less uniform to more uniform distribution of rare words among characters
could just as reasonably be read in the reverse order in any given instance.
The pattern of distribution may not be meaningless, but the meaning Foster
assigns to it is arbitrary.  The other assumption of the study, of course, is
that the author of the Shakespeare canon was indeed an actor and a playwright.
Without that founding assumption the proposed mechanism by which these rare
words get absorbed into the author's working vocabulary makes no sense.  But
hold on a minute!  Isn't that assumption the very thing Foster's study was
supposed to have *proved*.  It's called 'begging the question', Dave. A
textbook example if ever I saw one."  Mr. Buckridge is mistaken on all counts.
Lexical overlap between plays, and mnemonic recall of particular
character-lexicons, are BOTH statistically determined by SHAXICON, and each is
largely independent of the other.  SHAXICON tracks general overlap between
Shakespearean texts, and broadly confirms the order already established by
textual scholars, with very few exceptions (e.g., SHAXICON tends to date JN and
the Sonnets somewhat later, and Cymbeline somewhat earlier, than has been
generally assumed, and in a few instances (e.g., LLL, MND, AWW, MM) it
identifies chunks of text that appear to be later than the main text.  This,
too, has confirmed textual scholarship for these plays.  Because SHAXICON
offers no big surprises with respect to dating, he assumes that SHAXICON works
from the order established by independent scholarship, but in fact SHAXICON's
sequence is wholly determined by statistical data.  This does not mean that
SHAXICON's order is _right_ in every instance, especially when one gets to
texts written within months of one another.  SHAXICON perversely locates R2
just after, instead of just before, 1H4.  This is inconvenient but hardly
damaging.  Given the billions of possible sequences that can be constructed for
the poems, plays, and variants in the Shakespeare canon, SHAXICON's
statistically generated confirmation of textual scholarship is quite
remarkable.  Mr. Buckridge is also mistaken in saying that SHAXICON presumes
that the author of the Shakespeare canon was an actor.  Wrong again. SHAXICON
forcibly demonstrates that the canon is substantively by the same individual;
that the plays and poems were written in a sequence very like that already
determined by independent scholarship; and that the person who wrote them
remembered--disproportionately--the rare-word lexicon of particular characters
in each play, including Adam in _AYL_ and the Ghost in _Hamlet_. The Oxfordians
now have at their disposal a fairly complete list of the roles that Lord Oxford
memorized from Shakespeare's plays, including those roles that he memorized
after he was dead.
 

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