The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0069 Sunday, 26 February 2006
Date: Tuesday, 21 Feb 2006 09:17:07 -0800
Subject: Funeral Elegy
See the NY Times op-ed piece given us by Michael Luskin, who introduces
it as "An interesting op ed piece on authentication. It deals as much
with Shakespeare as with Pollock."
This piece was written by Don Foster, of the Funeral Elegy dispute. The
title is "Mind over Splatter," and a portion of it speaks of the Elegy.
"I am well acquainted with the risks of over-reliance on quantitative
techniques. In 1989 I published a book proposing that the 1612 poem "A
Funeral Elegy," by "W. S.," might be Shakespeare's. Seven years later,
the elegy made front-page news when computer-assisted analysis, along
with the opinion of other Shakespeare scholars, tended to confirm that
"W. S." was indeed Shakespeare. But in 2001, a French Shakespearean,
Gilles Monsarrat, proposed that W. S. was in fact Shakespeare's junior
colleague, John Ford. Computer-assisted analysis confirmed that this was
probably right, and the title-page initials, wrong."
Giles Monsarrat was not the first to know that John Ford wrote the
Funeral Elegy. Brian Vickers knew before he did, but published his book,
"Counterfeiting Shakespeare" a year later, 2002. But the first notice
that John Ford was the writer of the Funeral Elegy was proposed here, by
myself, in 1996. So the true calendar of discovery goes: Kennedy,
In his book on the Elegy, Vickers writes: "It was among the postings of
SHAKSPER that I came across the fruitful suggestion of Ford's authorship
made by Mr. Kennedy..." ("Counterfeiting Shakespeare", p. xx.)
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