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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: January ::
A Lover's Complaint & John Davies of Hereford
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0049  Thursday, 8 January 2004

From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Jan 2004 10:12:03 EST
Subject: 15.0030 A Lover's Complaint & John Davies of Hereford
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0030 A Lover's Complaint & John Davies of Hereford

Hmmm... how to strike a balance here?...

Some of Jim Carroll's objections to Brian Vickers' case for John Davies
of Hereford as author of A Lover's Complaint deserve attention. He shows
that some of the brief parallels of phrasing cited are not as
non-Shakespearean as Vickers suggested, and properly calls for an
examination of the chronology of Davies' vocabulary. Was Davies
imitating LC/Shakespeare? (Could Shakespeare have been trying to write
like Davies??)

Though Carroll makes much of Vickers making much of the Spenserian
influence in both Davies and LC, it seems to me that this is a minor
element of Vickers' case, not its core. Nothing is said about the usage
rate of "all", or coinage habits, or the other arguments put forth by
Vickers. I must admit that I am not familiar enough with the work of
Davies to descend into this maelstrom, but I would be interested in
seeing others hash it out.

Hash it out in a constructive way that is. Jim Carroll's argument is not
strengthened by his apparent personal bias against Vickers: "...Vickers
has botched another attribution."  And his coupling of the case for and
against the presence of Peele in Titus Andronicus can only bode ill for
his anti-Davies argument. It is clear to me (and many others) that
Vickers, building on the work of other scholars, is correct about Peele.
See Vickers' book Shakespeare, Co-Author, and the relevant SHAKSPER
threads from early 2003. Carroll's arguments there, though deployed with
much show of learning, were ultimately unconvincing, and, in my mind,
called into question his "feele for Peele" and for early Shakespeare.

As I pointed out, Vickers says that more work remains to be done on the
subject, and I've referred to it only as a "potential solution" to the
question. Carroll asks "Do we really need this analysis to see that John
Davies was not the author of ALC?"  Perhaps he feels the analysis is
unnecessary because of the external evidence of its publication with
Shakespeare's Sonnets. By those standards, however, we must accept A
Yorkshire Tragedy, The London Prodigal and all of The Passionate Pilgrim
as the work of Shakespeare. If Barnfield's poems had not been published
elsewhere under his name, and Thomas Heywood had not made his objection,
we would have no external evidence that all of Passionate Pilgrim was
not by Shakespeare. Would we then find Jim Carroll defending the
non-Shakespearean material in that collection against the
'disintegrationists'?  As David J Lake has written "One of the
hypotheses that internal evidence may support is, after all, the theory
that the external evidence in some particular case is wrong" [Canon of
Thomas Middleton's Plays, p4].

Brian Vickers' suggestion that John Davies of Hereford wrote A Lover's
Complaint is not the new orthodoxy, and Jim Carroll's dismissal of the
suggestion is premature and suspect. Of course we need more analysis.

Bill Lloyd

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