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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: A Lover's Complaint
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1195  Monday, 16 June 2003

[1]     From:   Jonathan Hope <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Jun 2003 13:54:20 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1186 Re: A Lover's Complaint

[2]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Jun 2003 07:26:20 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1186 Re: A Lover's Complaint


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jonathan Hope <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Jun 2003 13:54:20 +0100
Subject: 14.1186 Re: A Lover's Complaint
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1186 Re: A Lover's Complaint

The question of an author deliberately shifting their style to mimic
that of another, or to match that of a new genre, is an important one.
The possibility of this happening is often cited by those hostile to
statistical approaches to literature as evidence that such approaches
are pointless.  Strangely, or perhaps not, I've never seen any of these
hostile critics cite an example of an author altering their style to
produce a shift that changes the statistics.

In fact there are such examples, and consideration of them is very
instructive if you are trying to understand the slippery concept of
'style' and its statistical tracking.

One example is John Fletcher, who shifts his style in *The Faithfull
Shepherdess*, presumably because of the pastoral genre he is writing in
(Lucy Munro (King's London) has worked on this).  One of the things
Flecther does in this play is increase his normal usage of auxiliary
*do* in positive declaratives (eg.: 1.02.236-8 'thus I...*do* appoint'
rather than simply 'thus I appoint').  Elsewhere in his writing,
Fletcher produces such forms at a much lower, but constant, and
predictable rate.

Another example is William Henry Ireland, who attempts to reproduce
Shakespearean usage of auxiliary *do* forms in his forgery *Vortigern*.
Like all Early Modern writers, Shakespeare mainly uses auxiliary *do*
according to a new set of grammatical rules, which came into English
between about 1400 and 1700, and less frequently according to the old
rules.  In all his writing, Shakespeare uses the old forms about 18% of
the time.  In his play, Ireland spots the minority old forms as salient,
and attempts to use them to give his English the authentic whiff of
antiquity.  Unfortunately, as with his cod Olde Englissshe spellings,
Ireland massively over-uses this feature - about 34% of the time.

However, it doesn't seem to me that either of these examples vitiates
the potential of statistics to identify characteristic traits.
Scientists working with observed data expect to have to account for such
unexpected sets of results - and their explanation generally strengthens
and expands the working hypothesis, rather than demolishing the whole
paradigm.

Jonathan Hope
Strathclyde University, Glasgow

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Jun 2003 07:26:20 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1186 Re: A Lover's Complaint
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1186 Re: A Lover's Complaint

Sean Lawrence writes, "It doesn't matter whether you consider the use of
caps to be shouting, since it remains an internet convention that it
is.  A deaf person can't hear himself shout, but he should be sensitive
to his listener.  Besides, as a teacher of composition surely you can
find less vulgar means of drawing attention to individual words.
'Italics,' wrote the Fowler brothers, 'are a confession of weakness'."

Hi, Sean.  Thanks, I needed that like I need a red wheelbarrow full of
bricks :)

So, who cares about the Fowler brothers.  They are old hat!  Just
because Shakespeare put a ghost in the greatest play of all times, does
that mean I must also use ghosts in all my writings?  So, if italics are
a confession of weakness, is not using italics a sign of strength?  We
are talking style, my friend, and style is as style is.  How do you like
you e.e.cummings, with capitalizations, as in E. E. Cummings or not?

Style has its limits, you know.  And I suppose that if I use a you know
too often I'll be accused of being you know who?

When e.e. was invited to talk on UMass-Amherst Radio and also read some
of his poems, well, as a dutiful poet interested in getting his poems
out there, he accepted.  He remembered, by the way, Robert Frost's
dictum that ending a sentence in a preposition will get you sent to the
corner in grade two.  Ever taught grammar school?

Anyway, ole e.e. was on his way to UMass-Amherst Radio, when he got a
letter from the college dude who was in charge, and this smart-aleck
wrote e.e. that the board, whoever they were, had decided that some of
the poems he had chosen to read were unacceptable and they were
requesting that e.e. edit or censor his own poems in order for the
invitation to still be on.  So, e.e. sent a letter, which I saw a copy
of back in the 1960s when my professor showed it to me.  Ole e.e. wrote
a regular form letter, with proper HEAD and SIGNATURE, and all the
formal format, and in the very middle of the page he put, simply:

                           "NO"

Needless to say, e.e. did NOT do the radio show at UMass-Amherst :)

All the VERY best,
Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

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