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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: March ::
Re: Funeral Elegy
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0181.  Thursday, 7 March 1996.

(1)     From:   Richard J Kennedy <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Mar 1996 19:47:03 -0800
        Subj:   Funeral Elegy

(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 07 Mar 1996 16:16:53 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0172  Re: Funeral Elegy

(3)     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Mar 1996 18:13:53 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0172 Re: Funeral Elegy


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard J Kennedy <
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Date:           Wednesday, 6 Mar 1996 19:47:03 -0800
Subject:        Funeral Elegy

Don Foster objects that I used 3 short quotes from a handout he wrote.  This
was in regard to the John Ford question--might he have written the Funeral
Elegy?  But that 6-page handout was a "publication" and so is defined by the
United State Copyright Office.  If you don't want it spread around, don't pass
it out.  Your copyright is protected of course (it's copyrighted when you write
it), but reviewers, disenters, orators, scholars and laymen may take quotations
from it within a certain rather liberal limit, if they choose to address the
subject.

I did not make a breach of professional etiquette in using Foster's own words,
which I did in moderation, and I stayed close upon his argument so far as I
knew what it was from the material he had passed out, which, not to press on it
too much, constitutes publication.

As to my motive in all this.  Foster makes it to be sinister, and yet I think
he sincerely believes that Shakespeare wrote the Funeral Elegy.  I'd like to
believe it, too.  I'd like to find out if Shakespeare had anything to do with
the writing of the King James Bible as well, published in 1611, Oxford being
almost as dead as he was in 1612.  I'd like to see some good scholarly research
on that.

My sincere effort to know more about the Funeral Elegy and John Ford's
friendliness with the William Peter family is put aside by Foster.  He says
that I am "on a hunt for conspiracy." This has come to mean that you're rather
a coo-coo case, an ad hominem sort of comment we'd want less of.  However, some
20% of all Elizabethan poetry and plays is of doubtful authorship.  The quest
for attribution is always going on.  The Funeral Elegy is just another, but has
received the great haloo because it's about Shakespeare.  The whole world wants
some- thing new from Shakespeare.  But to me, the Funeral Elegy seems such a
shame and insult to the man, all that self- rightousness set off in bad poetry.
 So I'm sorry, I do get over- excited a bit, and I mean to insult no one, but
only to let Shakespeare escape such an insult.

At last, Don Foster quotes some of my words to him out of a private letter in
order to make an ass of me.  That's all right, I won't sue, but it's certainly
a breach of professional etiquette. Private letters are not like hand-outs.
But let it pass.

My skepticism has been, I believe, "intelligent and thoughtful," as Foster
suggests, and I wish for more of it without any defining of my motives or
sincerity in the quest to find anything at any date that Shakespeare might have
written.  To end, you may use anything I've ever published, you may quote me
freely from all public sources, you may jump on anything I've ever said about
anything.  You need not have my permission, it's all public property.  Of
course, my opinion might be different now about a lot of things. I've been
wrong in the past, and I'd like to be wrong about the Funeral Elegy, but I say
it just isn't close to Shakespeare.  I've let my attorney know that if I make a
deathbed retraction about that he can publish it.

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 07 Mar 1996 16:16:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0172  Re: Funeral Elegy
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0172  Re: Funeral Elegy

Regarding Dave Kathman's comments on criteria and my vague response, let me
clarify briefly.  It seems to me that the figures used for enjambement in FE
(by those who would ascribe the play to Shakespeare) are geared to the figures
for enjambement in the last plays.  Shakespeare enjambed more and more as he
got older.  So the figures used for feminine endings should be taken from the
same source -- the last plays.  To take one set of figures from the last plays,
and another set of figures from the non-dramatic poetry seems bad form -- to
me.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Mar 1996 18:13:53 GMT
Subject: 7.0172 Re: Funeral Elegy
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0172 Re: Funeral Elegy

David Kathman has backed away from an assertion he originally offered as
refutation of the discrepancy between the 11.6 % of lines in FE having feminine
endings and the 30+% of lines having feminine endings in late Shakespearean
verse. Kathman's response was that only examples of rhymed verse were
comparable with FE, and these also give a figure of around 10%. As
justification for excluding the blank verse Kathman writes:

> Whatever the ultimate reason may
>be, the fact remains that there are many fewer feminine endings in rhymed
>elegiac verse written around the time of W.S.'s Elegy than there are in blank
>verse plays written around the same time by the same authors.  That seems like
>a relevant thing to know in this discussion.

It may be a relevant thing to know, but it won't support the weight Kathman
puts on it. Suppose there is a convention that you rein back your use of
feminine endings when writing an elegy; this would fit all the facts cited in
Kathman's posting of 2 March. Kathman's assertion that you can compare FE with
early Shakespeare verse and draw useful conclusions from correspondences has
not yet been supported by any evidence. Selective sampling of correspondences
is not going to make a lasting case for Shakespeare's authorship of FE.

Possibly this discussion should end now; I quote from a couple of comments on a
different thread:

>Heated discussions back and forth between two opposing members on
>some obscure topic are  generally not of interest to the masses; the
>members in question should relegate their argument to private e-mail.

and

>Will John Drakakis' witty, left of center attacks on empiricism or
>essentialism be deemed less worthy than, say, the less exciting, more
>conventionally scholarly discussions of feminine endings in the FE?

Unless someone else joins in I shall hold my peace on the FE's in FE.

Gabriel Egan
 

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