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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: June ::
May 20, 1609
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0278  Sunday, 31 May 2009

From:       Bob Grumman <
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Date:       Wednesday, 27 May 2009 20:37:31 -0500
Subject: 20.0261 May 20, 1609
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0261 May 20, 1609

 >Isn't the real issue here that we have no evidence that Shakespeare
 >(who in 1609 was a very well-known poet and playwright) ever complained
 >about Davies passing off A Lover's Complaint as Shakespeare's?  First 
of all,
 >it's hard to see what motive Davies would have for doing this, but beyond
 >that what motive would Shakespeare have for remaining silent?

For me, the question of what motive Davies is the crucial question. Why 
should Shakespeare care about a trivial misattribution? Or care enough 
to go Very Public about it? He seems to have been behind the scenes 
about The Groatsworth, and we hear very little about what he did during 
the War of the Playwrights (or whatever it was) -- the only explicit 
mention of his involvement in that, was  in one of the Parnassus plays, yes?

There's also the question of why the actual author of "The Lover's 
Complaint," if Shakespeare was not, was not recorded as having said 
anything about the misattribution.

But, most of all, why would Davies or anyone else try to sneak "A 
Lover's Complaint" into Shakespeare's sonnets? And what would Thorpe's 
motive in publishing it have been?  154 sonnets weren't enough?  Was it 
standard practice to have a non-sonnet as part of a sonnet collection? 
Why would Thorpe not have known it was not Shakespeare's poem? Why would 
he not have mentioned it to Shakespeare?  Unless the edition was without 
Shakespeare's permission, and there's really no evidence of that.

What seems most plausible to me is that Shakespeare gave the sonnets to 
Thorpe, or okayed their being turned over to him by someone else, and 
made sure "Sonnet 145" was included, though tetrameter and seemingly 
very early, because it was to his wife, and added "The Lover's 
Complaint" because it was the first poem he was happy with, and had 
never been published. Speculation, sure, but more based on the way 
things happen than those speculations going elsewhere.

  -- Bob

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