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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: Article of Interest
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1207  Tuesday, 13 June 2000.

[1]     From:   William Sutton <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Jun 2000 06:24:19 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1202 Re: Article of Interest

[2]     From:   Tom Reedy <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Jun 2000 07:13:34 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1202 Re: Article of Interest

[3]     From:   Ron Macdonald <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Jun 2000 11:23:14 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 11.1202 Re: Article of Interest

[4]     From:   Lance Wonder <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Jun 2000 10:20:51 PDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1202 Re: Article of Interest

[5]     From:   Philip Tomposki <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Jun 2000 13:48:47 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1167 Re: Article of Interest

[6]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Jun 2000 11:30:02 -0700
        Subj:   SHK 11.1196 Re: Article of Interest


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Sutton <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Jun 2000 06:24:19 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 11.1202 Re: Article of Interest
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1202 Re: Article of Interest

Hi there,

A quick reply to Clifford's get the DNA suggestion. Right on! I thought
the same during my attendance at the Shakespeare Institute. Surely with
laser technology you don't even need to exhume!

The consensus (informal common room and pub talk) seems to be that the
body isn't even there. We know it was buried 'full five fathoms deep' or
deeper than normal.

The Avon also has a tendency to flood and apparently in the last century
it did often enough and so flushed out what was the last resting place
of Shakespeare.

Having lived through the heavy rains of last winter and seen the footage
of flooding in Stratford this story has an element of credibility.

Then again I still think we should send in the National Geographic team.
A bit of DNA and who knows we might prove his role in the Marlowe
murder.

Good bad and indifferently,
Yours
William S.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Reedy <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Jun 2000 07:13:34 -0700
Subject: 11.1202 Re: Article of Interest
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1202 Re: Article of Interest

Brian R. Page <
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 > wrote:

>Authorship is a perennial cover story.  Every few years you could
>hold a "debate" to thrash around the "evidence."  And to stay
>nimble, maybe reverse positions each debate. Who cares who's
>right?  Until some unimpeachable documentary evidence
>surfaces, it is an undecidable question.  But it's a great draw.
>
>And wrestling is real, too.
>
> Brian Page

Interesting that Brian uses a "sports" entertainment metaphor.  Indeed,
that is exactly the way I look at it: pretend scholars "refuting"
documentary evidence in the same way children "cook" by making mudpies.
In both cases the result is unpalatable to anyone who knows the
difference between fantasy and reality.  Thank God children grow up, at
least.

The "debate" is for entertainment purposes only--like psychic readings
and wrestling.  Anyone who takes the anti-Stratfordian argument
seriously after a thorough evaluation of the evidence is to be more
pitied than condemned.

Tom Reedy

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ron Macdonald <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Jun 2000 11:23:14 -0400
Subject: Re: Article of Interest
Comment:        SHK 11.1202 Re: Article of Interest

Clifford Stetner asks if "anyone has ever suggested digging up the
body."  "A little DNA," he adds, "would go a long way."  I'm not
entirely sure what DNA, in the absence of comparative samples from
relatives, would go a long way towards, but, yes, at least one person,
the heartbreakingly mad Delia Bacon, actually spent a lonely night by
the tomb in September of 1856, shovel in hand, trying to get up the
nerve to open it.  She was in quest not of DNA, of course, but of a will
and other relics she imagined contained the key to what she imagined to
be the authorship mystery.  She had become convinced of the existence of
such evidence, supposedly hidden in a hollow space beneath Shakespeare's
gravestone, by reading Francis Bacon's letters.  In the end, sure that
Bacon's letters referred to a tomb, but uncertain about just which one
might be in question, she left the precincts undisturbed.  I get this
from S. Schoenbaum's *Shakespeare's Lives*, which contains a fuller
account of the incident and of Delia Bacon in general.

--Ron Macdonald

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lance Wonder <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Jun 2000 10:20:51 PDT
Subject: 11.1202 Re: Article of Interest
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1202 Re: Article of Interest

Clifford Stetner asks--------------------

>has anyone ever suggested digging up the body?  A little DNA,
>the right of sepulchres, would go a long way.

About 30-40 years ago, Calvin Hoffman, the Marlowe proponent, led an
abortive campaign to exhume the body in Stratford in the expectation of
finding manuscript evidence.  This was long before DNA was understood.

I don't see what use DNA would be.  So far as I know, no one says that
it is really de Vere, Marlowe, Bacon, Queen Elizabeth or anyone but
Shakespeare under that plaque.  And since Shakespeare's line died out
when Susannah died, there wouldn't be any contemporary Shakespearean DNA
to test it against.  Or do we want to dig up Susannah too?

Its a good thing no one has tried it, there is a terrible curse to bear.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Philip Tomposki <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Jun 2000 13:48:47 EDT
Subject: 11.1167 Re: Article of Interest
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1167 Re: Article of Interest

I don't quite understand the point of Rob O'Connors posting concerning
the authorship question.  Is he under the impression that reading
articles and postings on this topic is mandatory?  Does he not know that
he can simple decline to participate in the debate if he so chooses?  Or
is he trying to cast dispersions on those of us who do care who wrote
these works?

The idea that the authorship question in somehow unworthy of serious
consideration, that it is the concern only of the great unwashed,
strikes me as arrogant, and quite shortsighted.  If the debate is too
often intellectually vacuous, is it not because too many informed people
leave the field to the hacks and charlatans?  After all, if evil
triumphs when good men do nothing, doesn't ignorance thrive for the same
reason?

The authorship debate matters a great deal, for the question of who
wrote the plays affect the historical context in which we understand
these works.  Case in point: The Earl of Oxford, who seems to be the
Pretender de Jour, died in 1604, nine years before traditional scholars
date the last of Shakespeare's plays.  Presumable this means the dating
of the plays must be pushed back by about a decade, and I've heard of an
Oxford chronology that puts them back twenty years.  This would require
a radical restructuring not only of Shakespeare scholarship, but the
whole history of Renaissance English Theater.  Surely this cannot be
considered insignificant.

Philip Tomposki

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 12 Jun 2000 11:30:02 -0700
Subject: Re: Article of Interest
Comment:        SHK 11.1196 Re: Article of Interest

Harvey Wheeler asked:

>Have there been computer-text comparison analyses of the writings of
>others who have been candidate authors of Shakespeare?

There have, though I have not seen them myself.  List member David
Kathman mentions them on his superb Shakespeare Authorship homepage,
http://www.clark.net/pub/tross/ws/will.html

Dave writes:

> In fact, whenever scholars have used such systematic
> methods to compare Oxford's writings to Shakespeare's,
> they have found no significant similarities but many very
> significant differences. Ward Elliott and Robert Valenza
> compared the work of several dozen Elizabethan poets
> (including Oxford) to Shakespeare, using both
> conventional poetic tests and a computer-aided method
> of comparing vocabulary patterns called "modal analysis."
> Elliot and Valenza found that none of the poets they tested
> matched Shakespeare very well, and that Oxford was
> particularly distant, ranking 22nd out of the 26 poets
> tested by modal analysis. More recently, Donald Foster
> has gathered a huge database of Elizabethan English texts
> by dozens of different authors, which can be used to
> systematically compare the vocabularies of Shakespeare
> and other writers. Oxford's vocabulary, it turns out, is a
> distinctly poor match for Shakespeare's when compared
> with other writers of the era. And finally, Alan Nelson has
> examined and transcribed all of Oxford's surviving letters and
> memoranda, and he has found that Oxford's idiosyncrasies of
> spelling and usage bear no resemblance to the idiosyncrasies
> which can be tentatively reconstructed from the earliest texts
> of Shakespeare's works. (In contrast, both the Funeral Elegy
> and Hand D of Sir Thomas More -- neither of which could
> have been written by Oxford -- consistently show all of
> Shakespeare's idiosyncrasies.)

This essay can be found at http://www.clark.net/tross/ws/paral.html

Embedded in the quote above are three such studies you can look up.
Have fun.

All the best,
Mike Jensen
 

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