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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: July ::
Re: Attributing Masterworks
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1724  Tuesday, 30 July 2002

[1]     From:   Elliott H. Stone <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Jul 2002 18:52:56 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1716 Re: Attributing Masterworks

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Monday, 29 Jul 2002 12:45:11 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 13.1716 Re: Attributing Masterworks

[3]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Jul 2002 10:12:51 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1716 Re: Attributing Masterworks


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elliott H. Stone <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Jul 2002 18:52:56 EDT
Subject: 13.1716 Re: Attributing Masterworks
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1716 Re: Attributing Masterworks

The issue should be that the Funeral Elegy by W. S.  is a parody rather
than presuming that any author was trying to write a parody of another
writer's work. The author of this wretched poem did not cooperate with
any other author especially Shakespeare in its writing. The idea is that
Thorp had a few short weeks while this sensational murder was in the
news to come up with something. Thorp as the publisher was taking all
the monetary risk. Does anyone still argue that the Author of FE wrote
this "out of love"? Look at the facts. Funeral poems were not written
for people in this class, no publisher's name on the poem, no facts that
fit the decedent, a story line that reads like it was written for a
saint when the deceased was a drunk  a gambler and a complete  do
nothing, called an "Elegy" to make it sound more pompous etc. FE reads
like the cut and paste job which is exactly all that Thorp needed. One
of the best at cut and paste certainly had to be the prime plagiarizer
and scoundrel William Strachey. He also had the worst possible
reputation and thus the least to lose if any problem arose in the
publication. Strachey gave his initials and a few pitiful additions to
the "hash". However, many years earlier Shakespeare must have written a
poem for a "saint". My guess is that saint was the Catholic Edmund
Campion and that is the likely reason it was suppressed and never
published.

Best, Elliott H. Stone

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Jul 2002 12:45:11 -0400
Subject: Re: Attributing Masterworks
Comment:        SHK 13.1716 Re: Attributing Masterworks

It is of course entirely possible to reproduce the exact 'enclitic and
proclitic microphrases' of any writer. Deftly done, it can result in a
fine ironic distancing. Masters of this effect include T. S. Eliot and
Pierre Menard --not that the absurd, tin-eared scientism of such as Ward
Elliott can hope to detect it.

T. Hawkes
The Presentism Suite,
Critical Theory Workshop Experimental Studio Rehearsal Space

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Jul 2002 10:12:51 +0100
Subject: 13.1716 Re: Attributing Masterworks
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1716 Re: Attributing Masterworks

Ward Elliott writes that Shakespeare "would have had to have read Marina
Tarlinskaja, Shakespeare's Verse (1987) to know what enclitic and
proclitic microphrases are now to have succeeded in imitating them then.
That does not seem likely to me either."

He continues:

"We are the ones who started with observed data, as Bacon would have,
and drew our conclusions from it in the form of fact-based test profiles
which could include Shakespeare and exclude others."

This makes my point very well. The "observed data" (i.e. Ford's writing,
Shakespeare's writing) was available to Shakespeare, so if you truly
start from that, there's no reason why you should come to conclusions
that were unavailable to Shakespeare. Shakespeare only lacked the names
given to certain linguistic tropes by Tarlinskaja (these are NOT
observed data, but categories in the Aristotelian sense). This is why
Ward Elliott's blood pressure analogy is no good: as he says, "nobody
knew what blood pressure was then, or had manometers". His point is that
Shakespeare would not have tried to fool modern stylometric
methodologies and equipment. Again, this makes my point for me! He
wouldn't have tried to fool the modern stylometric tests; but he might
have wanted to imitate Ford's writing style, which is supposed to be the
subject of those tests. What's more important, the empirical value of a
writing style and the ability of another person to imitate it, or the
values ascribed to that writing style by a certain methodology and its
technology? Or, to put it another way, do the stylometric tests really
tell us anything about the style of certain pieces of writing, or do
they only tell us about themselves through the prism of certain pieces
of writing? Isn't it time to *acknowledge* that the system precedes the
subject in these tests? If not, we must accept that (gifted) writers
could and did successfully imitate the writing styles of other writers
in ways that will fool truly empirical stylometric tests. Isn't that
what "empirical" means - able to be observed and therefore reproduced,
or imitated? If we think of a piece of writing as a scientific
experiment, it becomes clear that it must be reproducible by a second
party in order to be considered empirical data.

m

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