The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0878 Thursday, 15 April 2004
Date: Wednesday, 14 Apr 2004 13:28:57 -0400
Comment: SHK 15.0869 Stylometrics
Does stylometrics really represent a new dawn?
'our analysis, which has hitherto been qualitative, must become
quantitative; we must cease to be empirical and become scientific; in
criticism as in other matters, the test that decides between science and
empiricism is this: "Can you say, not only of what kind, but how much?
If you cannot weigh, measure, number your results, however you may be
convinced yourself, you must not hope to convince others . . . you are
merely a guesser'.
Thus the Shakespearean critic the Reverend Frederick G. Fleay, leading
advocate of style and metrical tests, one of the most diligent of the
'disintegrators' and unsurprisingly nicknamed 'the industrious flea'.
The occasion was the inaugural meeting, in 1874, of the New Shakspere
Society devoted to the study of the Bard . . . 'in this Victorian time,
when our geniuses of science are so wresting her secrets from nature as
to make our days memorable forever'.
Ho hum. In such a context, does anyone else find it heartening that avid
seekers after textual accuracy such as Jonathan Hope and Mac Jackson
should continue to believe that there is a contributor to SHAKSPER named
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