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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: April ::
Re: Shall I Die, Canon, SHAXICON, and More
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0412.  Thursday, 3 April 1997.

[1]     From:   David J. Kathman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 2 Apr 1997 23:26:07 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0396  Qs: Shall I;

[2]     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Thursday, 3 Apr 1997 06:48:33 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0403 Re: Shall I; Hamilton; Polonius


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David J. Kathman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 2 Apr 1997 23:26:07 +0100
Subject: 8.0396  Qs: Shall I;
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0396  Qs: Shall I;

Gabriel Wasserman wrote:

>>Well, I am interested in the fact that, um, well, y'know, um, a-COUGH, COUGH, the fact that Don Foster's SHAXICON catalogues "Shall I Die?" After all, didn't he write a long article in rebuttal of that?<<

Yes, he did (in SQ in 1987).  But I think you're laboring under a
misconception here.  It's true that "Shall I Die" is one of the
auxiliary texts which Don Foster has indexed in his SHAXICON database,
but that has nothing to do with whether he believes Shakespeare wrote
it-in fact, I believe SHAXICON indicates that "Shall I Die" is most
likely not by Shakespeare.  See, SHAXICON contains an entry for each
word which appears in the canonical Shakespeare plays at least once but
no more than twelve times -- 18,135 different words in all.  Various
auxiliary texts-including Shakespeare's nondramatic poems, a variety of
works that have been attributed to Shakespeare, and two Ben Jonson
plays- are also indexed, but they do not affect the 12-token cutoff,
which is based only on the canonical plays.  Theoretically, an
indefinite number of auxiliary texts could be indexed, but it wouldn't
alter the basic database of 18,135 entries.  These auxiliary texts are
indexed to make it easier to compare their rare-word patterns with that
of the core Shakespeare canon, and thus (in the case of the Apocrypha)
to help determine how likely it is that Shakespeare wrote them.

I'm going to respond to the rest of this post based on my knowledge of
the results Don Foster has obtained using SHAXICON.  This may not in
every case agree entirely with what Don would say now, so take this with
a grain of salt until the full SHAXICON Notebook is available on the
Web.  A few parts of the Notebook are already available on Don Foster's
web site, at http://vassun.vassar.edu/~foster; this includes a detailed
and very interesting discussion of the sources and textual history of
*Romeo and Juliet*.

>>Speaking of "Shall I Die?", what about the "Will"

I believe SHAXICON indicates that the Will is largely in Shakespeare's
own words (though of course this is an entirely separate question from
whether it's in his handwriting-he could have dictated it.)

>>*The Second Mayden's Trag=9Cdy*  (Doesn't anie-one haue reespect for th' dead)

I don't think this is indexed by SHAXICON.  I also don't think too many
people believe Shakespeare wrote it-Middleton's authorship is pretty
generally accepted.

>*Edmund Ironside*

Don Foster believes this was written by Robert Greene, though I haven't
seen his evidence in detail.

> *Leir*

I don't think this is indexed in SHAXICON, but I also don't think very
many people seriously believe Shakespeare wrote it.

> *die Breschafte Brudermond*  (Fratricide Punished)

Well, this is written in German, so word comparisons would be pretty
pointless.

> Q1 *Hamlet*

As I understand it, SHAXICON casts some doubt on Shakespeare's
authorship of Q1 Hamlet.  I don't know enough details to say much more.

>>[Though I know he's done Q1 *Merry Wives*, I include it for sake of completeness]<<

SHAXICON indicates that Shakespeare did not write Q1 *Merry Wives*,
except possibly for some minor revisions; however, he did act in it, in
the role of the Host.

>>[Though I know he's done Q1 *2H6*, I include it for sake of completeness]<<

SHAXICON confirms Shakespeare's authorship of Q1 *2H6*, and indicates
that he acted in it as well (as Suffolk).

>>[Though I know he's done O1 *3H6*, I include it for sake of completeness]<<

SHAXICON confirms Shakespeare's authorship of O1 *3H6*, and indicates
the he acted in it as well (as Clifford).

>>[Though I know he's done Q1 *H5*, I include it for sake of completeness]<<

Ditto for Q1 *H5* (with Shakespeare playing Exeter).

>>[Though I know he's done *E3*, I include it for sake of completeness]<<

SHAXICON supports the now widely-accepted view that Shakespeare wrote
the Countess scenes in *Edward III*, though I don't believe it supports
his authorship of the rest of the play.

>>[Though I know he's done *Double Falsehood*, I include it for sake of completeness]

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, SHAXICON does index *Double
Falsehood* (Lewis Theobald's alleged adaptation of Shakespeare and
Fletcher's lost *Cardenio*), and the first two acts look a lot like a
Shakespeare work from around 1612.

> *A Yorkshire Tragedy*

Not in SHAXICON, as far as I know.

> *Sir Thomas More*, hand D

SHAXICON confirms the view, now almost universally accepted, that
Shakespeare is the author of this scene.

> *The Famous Victories of Henrie the Fifth*
> *The Troublesome Raigne of Kinge John*  (parts 1 and 2)

Not in SHAXICON, as far as I know.

>>[Though I know he's done it *Taming of A Shrew* I include it for sake of completeness]<<

SHAXICON does not support Shakespeare's authorship of *A Shrew*, but it
indicates that he probably acted in it, as the Lord.

> *The True Tragedy of kinge Richard 3*

If you mean Q1 *R3*, SHAXICON supports Shakespeare's authorship.

>>[Though I obviously know *Funeral Elegy* he's done it, I include it for sake completeness]<<

As many people reading this are probably aware, SHAXICON fully supports
Shakespeare's authorship of the Funeral Elegy.  Details can be found in
Don Foster's article in the October 1996 PMLA.

> *Locrine*

Don't think this is in SHAXICON, but I don't think it's too likely that
Shakespeare wrote it.

Dave Kathman

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[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Thursday, 3 Apr 1997 06:48:33 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0403 Re: Shall I; Hamilton; Polonius
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0403 Re: Shall I; Hamilton; Polonius

Gabriel Wasserman:

Without hearing your music, I (as a composer) would be inclined to agree
with your first teacher.  Check out any hymnal at your disposal: the
weak bit of the iamb is the upbeat for the strong downbeat.  In fact, I
was thinking about that in the choir loft last Sunday, how the many
intricacies of iambic verse get smushed by metrical hymn settings.  It
was a bad hymn, with many "the"s thrown onto the first beat of the
measure.

As I check the handiest hymnal here, "Finlandia" comes closest to
"Lover's Complaint," with six lines of pentameter.  Hm.  Maybe you could
just chuck out one of those extra lines in each stanza.  I can't imagine
the audience would miss them much, especially towards the end.
(Merciful heavens, can you imagine such a thing as 47 verses of
"Finlandia"???)

As for the paVANNE, it was dactylic, not iambic: PUM, pum pum | PUM, pum
pum...

Now humming "Mille regretz" in his head,
Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company
 

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