The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2150 Wednesday, 22 November 2000.
Date: Tuesday, 21 Nov 2000 13:06:23 -0500
Subject: More Provenance . . .
Oppressed by semester-end woes, all I have time for is (1) to forward
this, courtesy of the ALSC list, and (2) to wish everyone on the west
side of the pond a Happy Thanksgiving.
Best -- Carol Barton
TODAY'S TIP: COMPUTER RESULT FEEDS SHAKESPEARE CONTROVERSY
by Sarah Coleman
For many years, it's been assumed that Shakespeare's final play, "Henry
VIII," was written by the Bard in collaboration with John Fletcher, a
rising young playwright of the time. Among other things, scholars cite
the fact that the play uses "em" instead of "them," which was a known
characteristic of Fletcher's style. Recently, however, a computer
program designed by English company SER Systems determined that
Shakespeare was 88 percent likely to have been the sole author of "Henry
VIII." The program, which analyzes language by using neural algorithms
to compare words and syntax, crunched on several of Shakespeare's plays,
including "Macbeth" and "The Merchant of Venice," and compared them with
"Henry VIII" to come up with its 88 percent rating. Shakespeare Society
chairman Stanley Wells pooh-poohed the result on the basis that
"computers can't think." But I prefer the reaction of literary critic
Sir Frank Kermode. "I heard Ralph Richardson's son reading from the play
last week," Kermode recalled, "and he said afterwards it was such
rubbish that it couldn't possibly be by Shakespeare."
"Henry VIII 'All Written by the Bard,'" by Paul Kelso
Sarah Coleman has a BA/MA degree in English Literature from Cambridge
University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. She
is a freelance journalist who specializes in arts reporting and