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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: October ::
Authorship
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0845.  Tuesday, 25 October 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Don Foster <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 Oct 1994 16:48:19 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0818  Authorship
 
(2)     From:   Pat Buckridge <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Oct 1994 08:31:16 +1000 (EST)
        Subj:   Authorship
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Foster <
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Date:           Monday, 24 Oct 1994 16:48:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0818  Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0818  Authorship
 
Taking your queries one at a time, beginning with John Cox:
 
1) SHAXICON is  coming along nicely while ruining my life with the mountain of
correspondence that it has generated.  Most of these queries ask for help from
SHAXICON with particular textual problems--answering just one letter is
therefore, typically, a two- or three-hour labor, sometimes longer.  My stack
of unanswered  letters is so deep that it won't stay vertical without help from
a plastic grocery-store bag.  (My apologies to those of you to whom I still owe
letters. Bear with me.  I'm pedaling as fast as I can.) In desperation, I have
tried giving away SHAXICON free to everyone who asked for it--but since I
haven't yet written a detailed user's manual, this only produced more queries.
I'm now shooting for 1996 publication of the database and manual.  I'm also
working on a companion volume, tentatively called the "SHAXICON Notebook," that
attempts to correlate what we know of stage history and textual transmission
with what SHAXICON seems to imply.  I'm also trying to round up additional help
from statisticians.  Over thanksgiving break or thereabouts I hope to write an
essay that will bring everyone up to date.
 
2) Next, in response to Matthew Westcott Smith, who writes: "As a political
scientist specializing in the Shakespeare's political thought, I was disturbed
by the implications of D. Foster's comments on Ward Elliott's program at
Claremont on 10/15: "Elliott is a political scientist not a literary scholar,
but his 'Shakespeare Clinic' is not without value. I am I [sic] to interpret
this as meaning any non-literary inquiry in to the corpus (until given the
imprimatur of the likes of Foster) *is* without value...." &c. yikes! My
apologies to Political Scientists, one and all.  As it happens, Ward Elliott is
a fine, capable scholar, a wonderfully jovial human being, and a friend with
whom I have had a long and fruitful exchange. We have had our disagreements,
Ward and I, but we have demonstrated that it is quite easy for literary
scholars and interested political scientists to communicate, profitably and
without hysteria. I trust that the rest of my 10/15 note, which Mr. Smith
doesn't quote, conveys my admiration for Ward Elliott's significant
accomplishments. So onward, Mr. Smith!  In to the corpus! And be sure to avoid
the likes of Foster.  Please.
 
3) To William Boyle.  Some of Ward Elliott's dead ends have included, for
example, an effort to distinguish authors by the number of exclamation points,
which as it happens is entirely dependent upon editorial practice.  To make
matters more complicated, ! and ? are used more or less interchangably in
Renaissance printed texts.  But don't get your hopes up.  Elliott's study
offers no glimmer of hope, even in its weakest surviving test like the
enclitic/ proclitic business, of rescuing Oxfordian theories.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Buckridge <
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Date:           Tuesday, 25 Oct 1994 08:31:16 +1000 (EST)
Subject:        Authorship
 
I wonder if Dave Kathman really imagines that Oxfordians think that Edward De
Vere wrote all or most of the plays in the 1570s and early 1580s, then left
them locked up in a bureau for fifteen years or so until he felt like
publishing a few of them in quarto.  No Dave, we don't think that.  That would
be foolish.  What we think is that De Vere wrote them, saw most of them
performed at Court and in the playhouses during those early decades, and
revised them thoroughly for publication during the 1590s and early 1600s.
There is no question of 'having it both ways'. It's perfectly obvious that none
of Shakespeare's plays are written in the style or, more to the point, the
verse forms, of the 1570s and early '80s.   Did you think we mightn't have
noticed that little detail?
 
I emphasise the matter of verse forms because although, like Marty Hyatt, I'm
labouring under the disadvantage of not having read Ward Elliot's unpublished
study, I gather that prosodic features (feminine endings? tag lines?) are among
those that were tested.  If so, it  is, as Marty says, hardly surprising if De
Vere's early effusions didn't test out as 'Shakespearean'.  The difference
between juvenilia and mature work is usually fairly marked in any period.  How
much more so when the difference is overdetermined by the rapid shifts in
English prosody and vocabulary that were occurring in these years.  All things
considered, I find it remarkable that there are, in fact, such *pronounced*
similarities of theme and language between the young De Vere and the mature
'Shakespeare'.
 
Dave Kathman and Ward Elliot seem to share not only an interest in the
authorship question, but also a sort of stylistic essentialism which allows
them to suppose that an author can be stylistically 'fingerprinted'.  Welcome
back, Frederick Fleay!  I don't believe such signatures exist, nestling in the
text untouched by differences of genre and verse form, and by the passage of
the years.  But even if I'm wrong the disproportion in the size of the sample
as between Shakespeare (37 plays, 154 sonnets, etc. etc.) and the acknowledged
De Vere (two dozen brief lyrics) makes the comparison meaningless.
 
And finally, the name.  Clearly Shakspere and Shakespeare *are* the same name
etymologically.  So (perhaps) were Durbeyfield and D'Urberville, but the social
difference between them was rather important in Hardy's novel.  I'm sure Dave
Kathman sees the 'Shakspere' as a badge of Oxfordianism, and maybe it is, but
it's not so much a brick wall you're beating your head against, Dave, as a
feather doona: it's more a matter of convenience than an argument or an article
of faith.  By the way, E. K. Chambers, whom Dave likes to quote from time to
time, always spelled the Stratford man's name 'Shakspere'.
 
Pat Buckridge.
 

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