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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: February ::
Re: "A Funeral Elegy"
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0095.  Friday, 9 February 1996.

(1)     From:   Don Foster <
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        Date:   Saturday, 03 Feb 1996 14:07:33 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   "A Funeral Elegy"

(2)     From:   Bernard Frischer <
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        Date:   Saturday, 03 Feb 1996
        Subj:   Conference on 'A Funeral Elegy'

(3)     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Friday, 2 Feb 1996 11:35:15 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0089  Re: Funeral Elegy

(4)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Friday, 02 Feb 1996 16:00:52 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0089  Re:  FE

(5)     From:   William Proctor Williams <
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        Date:   Thursday, 08 Feb 96 16:29 CST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0092  Re: Funeral Elegy by W.S.

(6)     From:   Hardy M. Cook <
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        Date:   Friday, February 9, 1996
        Subj:   FE


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Foster <
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Date:           Saturday, 03 Feb 1996 14:07:33 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        "A Funeral Elegy"

Thanks to Richard Kennedy for his example of the "ooh it's yucky" school of
criticism.  For a similar response, SHAKSPERians are directed to the piece by
Stanley Wells in the current issue of TLS (which will be answered by Prof. Rick
Abrams in a forthcoming issue [Feb. 9?]).  It is a always a good idea, of
course, to make sure that one knows what one is talking about before going on
record. Illuminating are Mr. Kennedy's remarks, "I would guess.... If I am
wrong about this,...I find nothing in it above the level of a Hallmark
verse....Is Foster speaking about a computer, some program perhaps that dices
poems?  I only suppose he is, but I don't know. But supposing that he is,...I
consider my judgement (or anyone's judgement who has read much poetry), to be
sufficient..."  Those who have already done their homework, or who attended
either the SAA or MLA sessions, are aware that our problem is not, "Why doesn't
Richard Kennedy LIKE this poem?" but rather, why didn't Shakespeare write it
more in keeping with Richard Kennedy's (and, indeed, my own) sense of aesthetic
value?  A question to be asked.  Stay tuned.

Don Foster

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bernard Frischer <
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Date:           Saturday, 03 Feb 1996
Subject:        Conference on 'A Funeral Elegy'

CONFERENCE ON 'A FUNERAL ELEGY'

Friday, February 9, 1996
2:00 - 4:00 p.m. in 121 Dodd Hall, UCLA
(Admission is free)

You are cordially invited to attend the first conference to be held on Prof.
Donald Foster's important discovery of a new 578- line elegy published in 1612
by W.S., whom scholars generally agree was William Shakespeare. Prof. Foster
found the poem among UCLA's microfilm copies of the holdings of the Bodleian
Library.

Conference Schedule:

2:00-2:10 Prof. Robert Watson (UCLA), Welcome

2:10-2:30 Prof. David Holmes (University of the West of England),
            "Authorship Studies Today"

2:30-3:00 Prof. Donald Foster (Vassar), "'A Funeral Elegy' by W.S.:
            The Argument for Attributing the Poem to William Shakespeare"
            (with a reading of highlights of the poem)

3:00-3:20 Prof. Lars Engle (University of Oklahoma), "The Significance
            of 'A Funeral Elegy' for Our Understanding of Shakespeare's
            Life and Works"

3:20-3:30 Prof. Stephen Booth (University of California, Berkeley),
            "Where Will We Go from Here?"

3:30-4:00 DISCUSSION

This conference has been organized by Prof. Bernard Frischer (UCLA) and is
co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Studies,
the UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies, the UCLA Department of
Classics, the UCLA Department of English, the UCLA Humanities Computing
Facility, the UCLA Office of the Education Abroad Program, and the Dept. of
English of Loyola Marymount University.

For further information please call: (310) 825-1867.

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Friday, 2 Feb 1996 11:35:15 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0089  Re: Funeral Elegy
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0089  Re: Funeral Elegy

I heartily agree with Richard Kennedy's opinion of The Funeral Elegy. I am
stunned that leading Shakespeareans are promoting it as Shakespeare's work.
However "impeccable" the scholarship, it won't make a silk purse out of a sow's
ear, or convince your ordinary reader that day is night. The Times article used
scornful terms for the idea that either Shall I Die, Shall I Fly or The Birth
of Merlin are Shakespeare's, but either one is far more eligible than this
interminable, unscannable, unreadable piece; Shall I Fly, since it is obviously
a song lyric, where standards are much different than other kinds of poetry,
and Merlin because whatever the difficulties, it SOUNDS like early Shakespeare,
which this Funeral Elegy does not. As for machines, they must be asked the
right questions to give worthwhile answers, and in any case, no machine can
ever replace the human ear, mind and heart. The deaf use a machine to
approximate what they have lost in nature. I can only surmise that these
"experts" have somehow lost these functions. The emperor appears to be naked
folks. I think I'll have another look at Venus and Adonis.

Stephanie Hughes

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Friday, 02 Feb 1996 16:00:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0089  Re:  FE
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0089  Re:  FE

Richard Kennedy comments:

>  It lacks all depth of thought, originality, or
>excellence of language. It's like a long babbling stream that is shallow the
>whole length There is not an arresting image or memorable line in the whole of
>it.  If I am wrong about this, let someone pluck something out of it that is
>worthy of Shakespeare or any second rate Elizabethan poet.  The thing is 579
>lines long, and I find nothing in it above the level of a Hallmark verse.

I recently reread the "Elegy" -- encouraged by Don Foster's enthusiasm.  I
first read it several years ago because of Don's enthusiasm. Unfortunately, I
have to agree with Richard's evaluation of the poem.  It seems to be totally
forgettable.  After wading through it -- in Don's edition -- I am not convinced
that the poem is in a recognizable Shakespearean style.  The "plain style"
argument doesn't diminish that impression -- and admittedly it is an
impression. And I am not convinced that this poem will be readily accepted into
the canon.

If George Eld -- the printer and apparently the publisher (no publisher is
named on the titlepage) --  knew that the poem was by Shakespeare, wouldn't he
have placed Shakespeare's name on the titlepage?  He certainly did so when he
printed the sonnets and *Troilus and Cressida*. Apparently S.s name sold books.
 What kept Eld from using his name? I realize that this question is almost
impossible to answer -- successfully.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <
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Date:           Thursday, 08 Feb 96 16:29 CST
Subject: 7.0092  Re: Funeral Elegy by W.S.
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0092  Re: Funeral Elegy by W.S.

Look, both the "Funeral Elegy" and "Shall I Die. . . ." are probably by W.S. If
one reads them one can easily see why a 'good' poet wouldn't want them
associated with his name.

This is not the 'Holy Grail,' the 'Holy Grail' is any bit of lit 'use your own
definition of what that means' in WS's 'own hand.'

One only has to look to the Donne Variorum to see into how many forms an
author's works may be transmuted without his hand ever coming near the paper.

Interesting as it all may be, what we need to find is something that WS
inscribed himself, not what other did for him.

Sorry for the tone of this, but I find both Taylor's and Foster's claims both
compelling and uninteresting.

(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Friday, February 9, 1996
Subject:        FE

I don't really have the time right now to get into this discussion, but I liked
the "Elegy," finding interesting turns of phrase and totally weird passages
that bear further scrutiny.  At some point, I would also like to offer some of
my reasons for my fondness for *Venus and Adonis* -- a poem I find very sexy and
very funny and a poem I believe has many resemblances to the *Sonnets*.
 

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