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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: February ::
Re: Funeral Elegy
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0147. Thursday, 29 February 1996.

(1)     From:   David Joseph Kathman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 28 Feb 1996 21:04:15 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0138  Re: Funeral Elegy

(2)     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Feb 1996 07:25:29 +0000
        Subj:   Re: Funeral Elegy

(3)     From:   Judy Kennedy <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Feb 1996 11:41:06 AST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0138  Re: Funeral Elegy


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Joseph Kathman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 28 Feb 1996 21:04:15 +0100
Subject: 7.0138  Re: Funeral Elegy
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0138  Re: Funeral Elegy

Just a few comments on the Funeral Elegy.

Richard Kennedy points out that there is no guarantee that the initials W.S.
represent the actual initials of the author.  True enough.  But the fact that
these initials occur twice -- on the title page and after the dedication --
makes it unlikely that they were a misprint, and the nature of the publication
(especially if you accept Don Foster's scenario of private publication) makes
it unclear why the author or publisher would want to be deliberately deceptive.
 The initials are just one piece of evidence, and the other evidence of
Shakespeare's hand would not change if the Elegy were totally anonymous.  It's
also theoretically possible, as Kennedy suggests, that the initials stand for
some hitherto unknown W.S. who wrote just this one thing, but I don't think
it's likely.  Whoever wrote the Elegy was an accomplished poet, and almost
certainly part of the London dramatic scene, as various kinds of internal and
external evidence indicates.  All other published elegies of 200 or more lines
between 1570 and 1630 were written by professional poets, men who made their
living with a pen.

One point I think we can all agree on, though, is the need to be prudent in
accepting any new work as Shakespeare's.  Don Foster stated it very well, I
think, in the concluding paragraph of his book on the Elegy: "Under no
circumstances should the Elegy be admitted to the Shakespeare canon, or be
included in forthcoming editions of his collected works, without having first
been subjected to the most rigorous cross-examination.  Many talented scholars
will find it quite preposterous that Shakespeare should be credited with such a
poem.  Their voice needs to be heard."  The arguments for Shakespeare's
authorship of the Elegy are indeed undergoing rigorous cross-examination, both
here on SHAKSPER and elsewhere, and only time will tell what the outcome will
be.  I should emphasize that I've mainly been clearing up misunderstandings and
defending the Elegy in general terms here on SHAKSPER, and have not really
dealt with any of the positive evidence for Shakespeare's authorship.  Much of
that can be found in Don Foster's book and Richard Abrams' recent pieces in TLS
and The Shakespeare Newsletter. This attribution is no idle whim; Foster has
been studying this poem for 13 years, and only recently became confident enough
to say publicly that he thinks Shakespeare did indeed write it.  As I've said
before, I hope people will look at the actual arguments and evidence and keep
an open mind as the cross-examination continues.

Dave Kathman

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Feb 1996 07:25:29 +0000
Subject:        Re: Funeral Elegy

There is less here than meets the ear.

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judy Kennedy <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Feb 1996 11:41:06 AST
Subject: 7.0138  Re: Funeral Elegy
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0138  Re: Funeral Elegy

There is no such thing as an elegaic poem.

 Judy Kennedy
 St.Thomas University
 

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