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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: August ::
Wager
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1393  Thursday, 25 August 2005

[1] 	From: 	Marcus Dahl <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 24 Aug 2005 14:06:32 +0100
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1367 Wager

[2] 	From: 	Jonathan Hope <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 24 Aug 2005 16:21:45 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1367 Woodstock

[3] 	From: 	Lene Petersen <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 24 Aug 2005 20:32:02 +0100 (BST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1367 Wager/ Evidence


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Marcus Dahl <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 24 Aug 2005 14:06:32 +0100
Subject: 16.1367 Wager
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1367 Wager

Dear All,

As someone who has been looking into the area of Shakespeare attribution 
studies for the last few years I would like to offer a few cautionary 
notes and issues (and to prod a few obvious wounds).

(1) I have recently re-counted all of the negative use of the un (vn) 
prefix in (all) Shakespeare (Folio) and Robert Greene (for comparison) 
retracing Michael Egan's recounts of Hart's counts. Egan I think 
believes that his own recounts (which differ from those of Hart) show 
the inadequacy of numerical tests. The fact that we can now use 
computers to test these figures and provide an accurate answer in days 
to the question of numbers refutes this claim. For those interested, I 
have a complete list of all the 'un' words I counted for comparison 
(which alas neither Hart nor Egan can provide). If anyone else would 
like to confirm my counts, that would be useful. Here are the counts:

Play			Hart's figures  Egan count   MXD

2 Henry VI			34		44		42
Romeo and Juliet		44		57		48
Richard II			52		61		54
1 Henry IV			39		45		42
Twelfth Night			33		39		38
Hamlet 				71		80		75
Lear				55		62		60
Coriolanus			48		55		55
The Tempest			20		20		21
1HVI								37
WINTERS						61
2Gverona							44
3HVI								47
AMSND								19
ALLSWELL							45
A&C								44
ASYOU LIKE							37
CYMBELINE							52
ERRORS						33
HV								33
HVIII								40
JULIUS C							25
KINGJOHN							54
LLL								28
MACBETH						49
MFM								55
MOV								34
MAAN								21
MWW								29
OTHELLO						62
RICH III							73
TROILUS						55
THESHREW							35
TIMON								36
TITUS								40
2HIV								31

(2) Unfortunately these counts prove that the test itself is not 
particularly useful. When I compared all of Shakespeare Folio with the 
works of Greene, (using percentages of total word counts and 
Discriminant Analysis) it seems evident that the variance within the 
data makes for unreliable predictive claims. For example, The Tempest 
has a %un count of 0.12% and Much Ado About Nothing 0.09% which is far 
less than the average Shakespeare Folio count of around 0.2%. If 
comparison is made with Greene (who generally has a lower than 
Shakespearean %un count), these plays come out as looking more like 
Greene than Shakespeare though their authorship is not in question. 
Shakespeare clearly varied his use of un- in quite a considerable way.

(3) This does not mean that statistical data is un-useful but it does 
mean that it is significant which data we use. For example, if we 
exclude certain 'Shakespeare' plays from our 'core' Shakespeare group on 
the basis that they are not 'representative' (as  I have noted many 
attribution scholars have done - not to name any names) we risk skewing 
the data. In the above example for instance, if we only tested middle 
period plays with counts of around 0.2% and then tested The Tempest or 
Much Ado etc your average statistical analysis package would flag up 
those plays as 'un-Shakespearean' on the basis of comparison with the 
'core' group. This answer in this case would obviously be false. How 
then are we to determine what the outer boundaries of our group is to 
be? Statistically this line is blurry. If we include certain dubious 
plays, our core baseline (to use Eliott's term) changes - therefore it 
is important that the criterion for choosing such a boundary are not 
only objective, but sure. For instance, what happens if Ward INCLUDES 
1HVI, 2HVI, 3HVI and Titus in his group of Shakespeare plays? Would this 
change the answers his tests give? How, before we know the answer as to 
the authorship of all of Shakespeare's works, are we to determine what 
the correct identification of a Shakespearean baseline will be? See 
below on Quartos and 'bad' texts. If, rightly, Ward states that we must 
have *some* accepted core group before we can test for differences of 
authorship, what do we do with those texts which are *not* core and how 
do we use the data from these texts to allow us to understand what we 
*mean* by core and not core. i.e. if 1HVI is not core, is it therefore 
un-Shakespearean? How do we constitute the margins of the canon?

(4) It depends also on who the core group (or whole group) is being 
compared with. In my work on 1HVI it is obvious that there is not always 
enough data on suspected other authors to make our comparisons very 
accurate. e.g. we have 36 First Folio plays by Shakespeare but only 1 
pageant play and various prose pieces by Nashe. And yet many notable 
commentators have seen enough evidence in that one play and pieces of 
prose from Nashe's to feel that we have sufficient fingerprint of 
Nashe's style to attribute large parts of 1HVI to him. Now the 
ascription may or may not be correct, but it is important to realise 
that the data sources are highly imbalanced. The same fact goes for 
comparisons of Shakespeare's works with ANY of his early contemporaries 
who died before 1600. (i.e the data for comparison with Jonson is quite 
large, but is relatively small for Nashe, Peele, Greene, Kyd - whose 
works are not only small in size, but poor in textual quality (i.e. 
deriving from largely 'bad quarto' style texts) and uncertain in origin 
- ie. did Greene really write Selimus (which was attributed to T.G not 
R.G) and how many extant attributively sure plays do we really have by 
Kyd or Nashe?)

(5) Continuing from the above - the authorship of many of Shakespeare's 
contemporaries' works is uncertain. For many years people thought that 
Greene wrote the 'Groatsworth of Wit'. Now it is thought that it may in 
fact be by Chettle.  Is this true, if so, how does it change our 
knowledge of Greene? How much of The Jew of Malta did Marlowe actually 
write? How much of Selimus is by Greene? Did Kyd really write Arden of 
Faversham? Did Peele really write Troublesome Reign? If not Shakespeare, 
who actually wrote Edmond Ironside, Faire Em, Locrine and the rest of 
the Shakespeare Apocrypha? How much of the above works is collaborative? 
Ward Elliot's tests examine whole plays, not sections, but most 
suspected works of Shakespearean authorship such as Edward III or 1HVI 
are collaborative - meaning the Elliott tests are of virtually no use 
for issues of collaboration (as he himself admits).

(6) What about textual condition? As far as I am aware no-one has lately 
cleared up the issue of Memorial Reconstruction or the 'Bad Quartos'. 
Who actually wrote down the text of The Taming of A Shrew or Q1 Hamlet? 
Who wrote the text of John of Bordeaux or 1RichardII - I mean the actual 
text we have. The issue of orally milled texts is unresolved for early 
texts i.e. - do we regard 'The First Part of the Contention' or Q1 
Hamlet to be 'by' Shakespeare even if his hand was never involved in the 
writing of the published text? If as I pointed out on a previous post we 
find many examples of oral devices in early 'Shakespearean' texts - such 
as A Shrew, Hamlet, Edward III, 1RichII, Titus etc do we hold back our 
'Shakespearean' ascriptions or do we say that the 'work' is by 
Shakespeare (in part or whole) but the 'text' is corrupt/ written by 
ear/ written from memory/'transmitted through performance'? If so, how 
does this affect authorship attribution? Personally I regard Q1 Hamlet 
as 'by' Shakespeare though I doubt he sat down and wrote the words in 
that exact form - this may be the case for many of these early plays and 
it may also explain the huge amount of literary parallels between plays 
like Edmond Ironside and 1Rich II with more canonical Shakespeare - 
these are stage-derived texts from the same theatre as Q2 Hamlet or The 
Taming of The Shrew etc. But can orally milled texts be accepted into 
the mainstream canon? Can they indeed be attributed to a fixed author at 
all? My own tests reveal that the Shakespeare first quartos are 
overwhelmingly closer to canonical Shakespeare than any other author of 
the period. This is of course no surprise since they often share more 
than 50% of the same words to their Folio brothers.  However if we admit 
Q1 Hamlet into the canon, must we admit Troublesome Reign, Edmond 
Ironside, 1RichardII etc on the same basis - as corrupt or oral versions 
of 'true Shakespeare originals'? More of this later.

(7) Some tests appear to work well for separating authors but are highly 
subject to date. I.e. Jonathan Hope's 'Do' Auxiliary test - on the basis 
of his own evidence- is efficient at separating Shakespeare from later 
contemporaries but poor at separating his works from texts published or 
written earlier than 1595. Therefore the fact that say, 1RichardII comes 
out as 'possibly Shakespearean' on this test, indicates little about its 
authorship and more about its date. Other tests such as the 'You/ Ye' 
test are similarly prone to such problems.

(8) Tests can be either positive (Egan) or negative (Eliott) - but what 
to do with the difference? If, as I noted the other day on Shaksper the 
interesting spelling 'YOR' for 'YOUR' is ONLY found in the possibly 
orally derived texts 1RichardII, Edmond Ironside and John of Bordeaux 
out of 256 other early modern texts and NOWHERE in Shakespeare - should 
we regard this evidence as an indication that these 3 texts are 
un-Shakespearean but unified in some way nonetheless (author? scribe?)? 
If Ward Elliott's tests show that 1RICHII NEVER passes all the standard 
tests which all of canonical Shakespeare easily pass, does this mean we 
should exclude it from the canon?  It does seem unlikely as Ward states 
that a real Shakespeare play would come along and fail all the standard 
Shakespeare tests passed by all other canonical Shakespeare. If Michael 
Egan's tests show positive parallels with canonical Shakespeare, is this 
enough evidence to include the text?  Precisely similar evidence to 
Michael Egan's linguistic parallels have been used (mainly by the late 
Eric Sams) to attribute Edmond Ironside, The Troublesome Reign of King 
John, Locrine, Faire Em and Edward III to Shakespeare. There are 
hundreds of examples in Sams' works of close parallels of langauage 
/images/ ideas etc between canonical Shakespeare and the apocryphal 
plays - and yet most mainstream scholarship has been reluctant to accept 
Sams' examples as evidence of common authorship. But if they are not 
examples of common authorship, then what are they and how did they get 
there? This question needs answering too.

(9) If you do not know who the other possible candidates for the 
authorship of a play are - how do you test for them? i.e. does a play 
which has lots of Shakespearean themes, words, etc have to be by 
Shakespeare simply because it sounds a bit like Shakespeare and we can't 
think of anyone else to attribute it to. As Michael Egan's own comment 
on yesterday's post indicates - plays such as Edward III or 1RichII 
might only appear Shakespearean because we can't think of anyone else to 
attribute them to. But this in itself is not sufficient reason  to 
attribute the play to one author over another. For example, there are 
hundreds of close parallels of language between 1HVI and Spenser but 
since clearly Spencer is not an authorial candidate for the play we 
exclude them as merely literary parallels. But what happens if an author 
IS a candidate (i.e. he could have written a certain suspected play) and 
the same parallels exist - the superficial evidence is the same but now 
we think we may have a genuine candidate, we are more likely to take the 
same evidence seriously. But the evidence is clearly deficient since it 
cannot stand up on its own - close literary parallels exist between 
canonical Shakespeare and non-canonical Shakespeare throughout his 
works, but every time we find them we do assume collaborative authorship 
or the hand of Marlowe in Richard II because of all the parallels with 
Edward II. Literary scholars must resolve this issue.

(10) We now have the availability of computers to check large amounts of 
vocabulary and cross-reference our data - but how should we decide how 
compelling the absence or presence of data is in using these tests? I.e. 
if (as I know from checking) John Ford is one of the few writers to use 
'All what' as a phrase, what does the presence of absence of this phrase 
mean for the authorship of a play. If (as I did) one finds it in The 
Noble Soldier (not previously attributed to Ford to my knowledge) must 
we suspect the hand of Ford in that play or do we merely attribute the 
(very rare) use of the phrase to chance / accident/ plagiarism etc? Also 
- if I can get up to 93% discrimination of Shakespeare Folio from 256 
author texts by 24 other authors using 87 function word based tests and 
discriminant analysis - (which I can) what shall we conclude about the 
accuracy of these tests for the determination of authorship - 
particularly if such seeming success comes in the face of all the other 
questions here related?

(11) I have yet to finish doing linguistic tests on 1RichII and Edward 
III etc because it is difficult to test texts which do not belong to a 
particular author group - since merely 'apocryphal' texts do not form a 
natural linguistic / statistical group. This, as alluded to above, is 
perhaps the biggest problem facing authorship studies - how does one 
test an isolated work BUT by comparison with a wider canon - our 
knowledge of which is itself under scrutiny: i.e. we need to form canons 
in order to examine canons, but overwhelmingly our knowledge of the 
works of authors other than Shakespeare is very poor. Until such a time 
as everyone on this list has actually bothered to read and know ALL of 
Greene, Peele, Nashe, Lodge, Marlowe, etc (not to mention the hundreds 
of anonymous and apocryphal early texts) the kinds of ascriptions of 
authorship and style regularly discussed in this and other academic 
groups will remain merely superficial. As they say in the law courts, 
ignorance is no excuse.

Answers on a postcard please!

Best regards,
Dahl the Doubter.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jonathan Hope <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 24 Aug 2005 16:21:45 +0100
Subject: 16.1367 Woodstock
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1367 Woodstock

Here are the details I promised on auxiliary 'do' use in Woodstock. 
Figures fans may remember that my initial findings for overall use of 
auxiliary 'do' in the play put it at 83% regulation, within the range 
Shakespeare displays.

However, I also said that I wanted to check some details as I noticed 
what looked like some interesting patterns while doing the counts. So 
here they are.

Although the average figures for auxiliary 'do' use don't provide a 
distinction between the author of Woodstock and Shakespeare, the 
detailed figures for certain sentence types do.

The clearest distinction comes in positive statements (the commonest 
sentence type, and therefore the one which provides the most reliable 
stats).

A positive statement is something like, 'I went to hear a play yesterday'.

In Early Modern English, because of a significant long-term change in 
the grammar of English, speakers were able to add the auxiliary verb 
'do' to positive statements as an alternative to using the simple verb form.

So the following are direct equivalents:

     I went to hear a play yesterday

     I did go to hear a play yesterday

(unlike in Modern English, the second version here does not 
automatically imply emphasis).

This is a relatively short-lived option in the language, but usefully 
for attribution studies is at its height in the second half of the 
sixteenth century.  On average across Early Modern texts about 9% of 
positive statements have auxiliary 'do' added like this.

Shakespeare, probably because of his birthdate and birthplace, is above 
average in his use of auxiliary 'do' in positive statements - generally 
about 11% of his positive statements have auxiliary 'do'.

The author of Woodstock however is below average in his use of auxiliary 
'do' in this sentence type - only 4.5% of positive statements in the 
play have auxiliary 'do' (this pattern is consistent across the text).

To put this into raw figures, for Woodstock to have a Shakespearean 
pattern of auxiliary 'do' use in positive statements, it would need 
about 50 more sentences of the type 'I did go to hear a play yesterday' 
(it currently has 36).

This is a very large difference, and on its own is enough to make me 
very dubious about the possibility that Woodstock was written by 
Shakespeare.  Given that other researchers' linguistic tests also reject 
Woodstock as a Shakespeare text, I have to say I'm pretty satisfied that 
it's not by him.

Jonathan Hope
Strathclyde University, Glasgow

ps there are also differences between the author of Woodstock and 
Shakespeare in the formation of positive questions and negative 
questions, though these are much less frequent sentence types, so are 
not as robust statistically.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Lene Petersen <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 24 Aug 2005 20:32:02 +0100 (BST)
Subject: 16.1367 Wager/ Evidence
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1367 Wager/ Evidence

Greetings All,

In the most recent posting on the case of the authorship and provenance 
of 1, Richard II, Michael Egan states that "whoever wrote 1 Richard II 
also wrote Edward III, the Shakespeare scenes in The Two Noble Kinsmen 
and the fragment from Sir Thomas More attributed to Shakespeare." He 
directs readers to his website, where "the data supporting these claims" 
can be consulted in the form of parallel phrases linking 1, Richard II 
with Edward III, and with Shakespearean scenes in Kinsmen and Sir Thomas 
More.  I make no comment here as to how convincing or not the bulk of 
this evidence may be; only I would like to disqualify an -admittedly- 
small section of Egan's 'parallels' as incapable of indicating specific 
authorship in early modern playtexts.

Comparing 1, Richard II with Kinsmen, Egan says: "That we find any 
overlaps at all, however, is remarkable since The Two Noble Kinsmen was 
almost certainly one of Shakespeare's final plays, 1 Richard II among 
his first. The common turns of phrase thus reveal habits of mind 
spanning an entire career." Included in these 'turns of phrase' are, for 
instance:

"Come, come, let's leave them [i.e., the court]. (1 Richard II, II.i.171)
Let's leave his court  (Two Noble Kinsmen, I.ii.75)
He comes, my lord,-    (1 Richard II, II.i.127)
Here she comes	       (Two Noble Kinsmen, II.i.15)
Look where she comes   (Two Noble Kinsmen, IV.iii.9)"

These particular examples may yield 'habits of mind', or formulae 
rather, but they do not belong to the careers of any specific 
playwrights. They are found in several playtexts of the period (as 
simple searches in LION or KEMPE-online will show). I would like to call 
them 'oral' formulae (as similar look, see, come and news formulae 
appear to increase in number in orally transmitted folk ballads), but 
the fact is that on the English renaissance stage, with its intense 
repertoire system, they have probably become "strong" variants of 
theatrical formulae; that is, they are not only used by players in 
repeated (oral) performance, but also by playwrights in the writing of 
their (literary) texts. It would appear there are certain formulae for 
certain stereotypical situations.

The stock of various "Come, (come) let's go/see...", Here x/y/z 
comes/comes/goes/is", "Look/see where he/she/it comes/goes/is etc" is 
substantial in the surviving texts from the early modern English stage, 
so are "what's the news...", "leave me alone..." and  "how now" 
formulae. That such features can be seen to increase in so-called "bad" 
texts in relation to equivalent long texts (where these survive, e.g. 
Hamlet Q1 vs Q2/F1 or Romeo and Juliet Q1 vs. Q2/F1etc.) is worth 
noting. These features are induced by transmission per se. They are used 
by players and playwrights alike; in composition by playwrights and in 
"de-composition" by players.  Thus they cannot and should not be claimed 
to belong to the careers of individual playwrights.

For the same reasons, I recommend excluding the following features as 
part of a case for Shakespeare's authorship of 1, Richard II vis-

 

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