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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Re: SHK 14.1317
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1400  Tuesday, 8 July 2003

From:           B. Vickers <
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Date:           Tuesday, 08 Jul 2003 13:55:35 +0200
Subject: Comment:        SHK 14.1317

Bob Grumman, who considers himself a friend of Jim Carroll and agrees
with Clark Holloway that he's the man hiding behind the HLAS alias ('Jim
KQ Knave'), mildly admits  that Carroll's 'been more unruly than I would
have liked in some of his posts against Prof. Vickers', but 'truly feels
that KQ Knave is not intentionally misrepresenting anything', and
consoles us with the thought that 'KQ does refer his readers to the
specific pages of "Counterfeiting" Shakespeare that he is discussing ...
so whatever misrepresentations he may be making should not stick to any
properly dutiful reader'. Mr. Grumman is evidently a nice man, and also
a poet who maintains a poetry website, all grounds for approval in these
times. But he is either too kind or too naive towards 'Knave' Carroll,
whose behaviour is rather more than 'unruly' (unless Mr. Grumman is
using the rhetorical figure *paradiastole*, as when some nobleman's son
who's got drunk and killed a friend may be described as 'showing
youthful high spirits'?).

'Knave' Carroll's campaign against me on the HLAS site dates back to
1996, when I published an essay in the TLS casting doubt on Foster and
Abrams's Shakespearian claims for the *Funerall Elegye*, and arguing
that what they accepted as 'evidence' would just as well identify Simon
Wastell as 'W. S.' (some people erroneously concluded that I was
seriously proposing Wastell as author). I'm told that 'Knave' Carroll
has been regularly attacking me since then, but his attacks have reached
fever pitch since Jerry Downs dared to publish on HLAS (12 Dec. 2002) a
favourable review of *'Counterfeiting' Shakespeare* (*CoSh* for short)
-- for which he has been dismissed as 'a wacko'. I spent a day last week
reading through this website, a truly depressing experience, adding a
new circle of suffering to Dante's Inferno, for on it defenders of
Shakespeare's authenticity can attack those who -- in my view mistakenly
-- question it in the most abusive terms. Joseph W. Kennedy (a
'Stratfordian') recently described Richard Kennedy (an 'Oxfordian') as
'a filthy, sneaking, lying coward with all the moral fiber of Joseph
Goebbels'. Anyone who can throw such insults on behalf of Shakespeare is
in a bad way, and the (unmoderated) site which posts it brings discredit
upon American scholarship.

Perhaps, in this context, 'Knave' Carroll only seems 'unruly'. Well, try
a sample of his style: having described my 1996 TLS essay as 'typical of
the naysayers' -- those who say no to the FE as Shakespearian -- he
added: 'I wish these guys would post here so that we could tear them up
a bit'. Not finding me posting on HLAS, 'Knave' Carroll has shifted his
activities to SHAKSPER, and toned his abuse down a bit. It doesn't take
a Don Foster to identify Carroll as 'Knave': he attacks the same targets
in the same way, using the same quotations. (Sometimes the hyperactive
polemicist gives himself away. On this site recently, SHK 14.1003, 22
May, Carroll angrily asked: 'How is it that my use of a 1996 book by
Metz is bad but your reliance on a 1927 book is not? Or, as I pointed
out before, your use of Timberlake's 1931 book or T. W. Baldwin?' But he
had referred to Baldwin in an HLAS posting by 'Jim KQ Knave', 19 Jan.
2003, 'On Vickers' Book', pt 9.) The source of the 'Knave's' anger is
his conviction that Foster was right from 1989 to 12 June 2002 in
claiming FE for Shakespeare, and his master's recantation then must have
seemed like apostasy. 'Knave' Carroll has claimed that my real intent in
writing *CoSh* was 'in smearing Foster'. I regularly 'attempt to
discredit Foster's expertise', he has stated, because I am 'excessively
envious of him'. He calls me 'a master of misrepresentation', doubts my
integrity, accuses me of lying (or telling 'fibs'), and dismisses my
whole scholarly standing: 'Shoddy scholarship of the kind that Vickers
provides in his book do [sic] nothing to help matters, rather they [sic]
confuse the issue and make genuinely curious scholars waste time
investigating his claims.' Not having read *CoSh*, as he admitted (he
intended to do so 'when I can find a library copy': 12.12.02), and
having quoted Mr. Downs's recognition that I had disproved Foster's
identification of hendiadys in FE as a uniquely Shakespearian usage,
'Knave' Carroll concluded: 'Vickers seems to be saying that if you argue
in a logical fashion it is somehow unfair. Absurd, and it smacks of
anti-Stratfordian methods of argument'. Ward Elliott's recent diagnosis
of the smear tactics used by Agent Jim (or Agent Orange?) is confirmed.
-- At least I'm a native English speaker, unlike poor Erich Kerl, a
German scholar who wrote an outstanding book on hendiadys in
Shakespeare, which I drew on to show up the limitations of Foster's
discussion, suggesting that it ought to be translated into English for
the benefit of scholars who do not read German. 'Knave' Carroll
irritably objected: 'Why? Why would a native speaker of English trust a
native speaker of German on issues related to Shakespeare, particularly
when the German is totally confused on this issue?'. Do you like the
xenophobia? There's more! Angry with Gilles Monsarrat for having pointed
out dozens of close verbal parallels between FE and Ford's poems, plays,
and prose works, 'Knave' Carroll set up a special website containing
what he proudly calls 'my demolition' of Monsarrat, quoting his judgment
that FE is 'not only most unlike Shakespeare but also very much like
substandard Ford'. 'Knave' Carroll commented: 'One wonders whether or
not Monsarrat is a native speaker of English'. -- As it happens, Gilles
Monsarrat was born and brought up in London, moving back to his native
France to go to university. He is genuinely bilingual, and has a
detailed knowledge of Ford stretching back some 30 years. Of course, the
real issue here is the 'Knave's' persistent seizing of every
opportunity, however base, to attack your opponents --
'what right have foreigners to talk about My Shakespeare? Especially
when they disagree with me!'.

Bob Grumman generously supposed that 'the dutiful reader' can always
check 'Knave' Carroll's page references: but, as Clark Holloway has
shown, she will need to do so line by line, for the 'Knave' willfully
distorts the authors he attacks, suppressing key sequences in an
argument to make it look incoherent before then dumping on it a load of
sarcastic abuse. He has been rubbishing my book on HLAS for 10
installments so far: looking at the times at which one post follows
another he must be spending many hours a day typing out long excerpts
from Foster, followed by selective excerpts from *CoSh*, just to be
ridiculed. I don't really care what he writes about me, but I do mind
when he abuses and distorts the work of scholars whom I've quoted, as
with Brian Boyd on this site. Thinking that he is 'demolishing'
Monsarrat's case for Ford as the author of FE, the 'Knave' begins with a
section on repetition, where he reveals a pathetic ignorance of rhetoric
(details on request!), and a blanket refusal to see that the
non-Shakespearian type of repetitions in FE are on a much larger scale,
mechanically echoing words, phrases, and ideas within the space of a few
hundred lines -- the second half of this 579-line poem recycles most of
the first half. The 'Knave' then accuses Monsarrat of having only cited
parallels with poems written by Ford after FE was published, which would
restore Foster's dismissal of Ford as an unimaginative plagiarist. But
the 'Knave' conveniently suppresses the fact that six of the parallels
Monsarrat cited were to Ford's *Fames Memoriall* (1606), and two to
other Ford works published in 1606. The final chapter of *CoSh*, called
'"The Funerall Elegye" in its Fordian context', 59 pages long, and
written independently of Monsarrat's work, cites hundreds of parallels
between FE and Ford, including nearly 30 with *Fames Memoriall*. -- What
fun 'Knave' Carroll will have when he gets that far! How many episodes
on HLAS will that yield!

Finally, readers may well be asking, what about 'Knave' Carroll's
contribution to attribution studies? On this site (SHK 14.1879, 12 June)
he found it 'outrageous' that, in *CoSh*, I had cited '"verse lines
beginning with a function word" to show some supposed likenesses between
Ford and the elegy, though these features are commonplace, found in most
verse of the period (indeed, any period)'. In 'pt 4' of his attempted
disembowelling of my book ('... so that we could tear them up a bit'),
'Knave' Carroll quoted extensively from pp. 239-41 of *CoSh* (wait a
minute? doesn't he owe me reprint permission fees? I must ask my
publisher!). He reproduced my tables for 11 function-words in FE, also
the number of times they begin a line (30 lines beginning with 'Of', for
instance, as first pointed out by Richard Kennedy in these columns, SHK
7.0202, 11 March 1996). Then, to assert his never-ending belief that
Shakespeare wrote FE, 'Knave' Carroll looked for the same phenomenon in
'A Lover's Complaint', averaging out the difference of length (579/329
lines = multiply by '1.7568'). Then he added in another 8 function words
that I didn't consider -- thanks for the additional evidence! I'll cite
it when the book is reprinted -- to reach the conclusion that the
percentage for such words beginning a line in FE is 37.7%, 37% for ALC.
By this reckoning, ALC would use 'of' 25 times to begin a line, 'that'
14 times, 'to' 19 times, 'and' 51 times, 'the' 28 times, and 'for' 21
times. My concluding comment in *CoSh* was that nearly a quarter of the
Elegye's iambic lines 'begin with a word ... drawn from a  store of
weak-syllable openers, words of low semantic import which can be
endlessly recycled. Without attempting to prove the point by analysis
and computation, I shall simply declare that verse writing of such a
predictable and formulaic nature is unShakespearian. Whoever denies this
should produce the evidence'. And pat enters the 'Knave', to bring about
the catastrophe of his own comedy. Carroll doesn't seem to realize that,
since he's about the only person around who still believes that
Shakespeare wrote FE (Foster and his friends dropped it a year ago; all
3 one-volume college Shakespeares will not be reprinting it), and since
quite a number of people have never accepted that Shakespeare wrote ALC
(despite Thorpe having attached it to the Sonnets in 1609), then every
stylistic parallel that he cites between FE and ALC will weaken the case
for Shakespeare's authorship of the latter. Bad news for his camp, in
fact -- perhaps ALC is by Ford?  (Joke!). And while 'Knave' Carroll
predictably accuses me of choosing function words 'carefully to support
[my] point of view', may I refer him to Colin Burrows's recent Oxford
edition of the *Sonnets*, pp. 154-5.  Burrows -- independently of me! --
had observed that 'the frequency of "of" in [FE] is also remarkably
high, and contributes a great deal to its monotony: "Of" occurs about
twice as frequently in the Elegy (about 3.2% of its words are "of") as
it does in Shakespeare's known non-dramatic verse'.  Further, Burrows
pointed out, 'About 3% of the Elegy's lines start with "Of"', as
compared to about 0.5% in *VA*, 1% in *Lucr.*, 'and a similar proportion
of the Sonnets'. Where does this leave ALC?

There, I have done. 'Knave' Jim Carroll is a fake scholar, a vindictive,
unscrupulous, xenophobic defender of HIS Shakespeare canon. Mindful,
with Falstaff, that 'pitch, as ancient writers do report, doth defile',
I vow never to speak or write his name again.

Professor Brian Vickers, Litt.D., F.B.A.
Chair of English Literature
Centre for Renaissance Studies

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