The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0474 Friday, 13 July 2007
Date: Thursday, 12 Jul 2007 22:06:04 EDT
Subject: 18.0467 Brian Vickers and A Lover's Complaint
Comment: Re: SHK 18.0467 Brian Vickers and A Lover's Complaint
Responding to several posts here concerning A Lover's Complaint...
(http://tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25390-2647330,00.html) you may
see Brian Vickers' response to Harold Love's review of his book in the
TLS. I haven't seen Love's review, but I have read Vickers' book
*Shakespeare, A Lover's Complaint, and John Davies of Hereford*, and the
letter rings true.
As I say, I have read Vickers' book. Although I believe in the value of
well-done attribution studies for the sane adjustment of canons, I am
not a wild-eyed attributionist. I found some of Vickers' Davies-clues
aired here a few years back to be intriguing, but also found the
arguments of Kenneth Muir and Macdonald Jackson convincing: all I looked
forward to was a passionate agnosticism. However, I did find Vickers'
book to be convincing, both in countering Muir and Jackson, and in its
demonstration of the essential Daviesness of Lover's Complaint. I could
have wished for a bit more 'negative check' to exclude Shakespeare
(there is some), but I confess myself convinced. No brief excerpts or
individual examples will serve to prove or disprove the case-it's the
totality of the argument. Read the book.
Bob Grumman asks "How often would a full collection by one author, like
*Shakespeare's Sonnets*... published under the author's name, but with
an additional minor work not his added to it?" One example I can think
of is William Barksted's *Mirrha* (1607). This does differ from
Sonnets/LC in that the additional minor work is noted at the bottom of
the title page: "Whereunto are added certaine Eglogs. By L.M."
I agree that title page attributions are usually correct and can never
just be ignored. However to accept all t.p. assignments more or less as
an article of faith is to ignore numerous known exceptions. These would
include the t.p. of the 1647 Beaumont & Fletcher folio (really Beaumont
and Fletcher and Massinger and Field and Rowley and Middleton and Ford
and Webster), the t.p. of Dekker's 1 Honest Whore (really Dekker and
Middleton- see Henslowe's Diary) and of course the t.p.'s of A Yorkshire
Tragedy and The London Prodigal -- unless the faithful are on the
principle of t.p.-faith willing to admit those two plays to the
Shakespeare canon. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that the
Sonnet's sub-title page to Lover's Complaint is mistaken or incorrect.
The attribution to Shakespeare cannot be lightly dismissed, but it is
not an impregnable bulwark.
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