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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: July ::
Middleton and Macbeth
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0289  Thursday, 15 July 2010

From:         Bill Lloyd <
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Date:         July 13, 2010 10:27:55 AM EDT
Subject: 21.0276  Middleton and Macbeth
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0276  Middleton and Macbeth

>Allston James writes: "I've been following the Middleton issue and am 
>struck by something Bill Lloyd said: "the verse is constructed differently, 
>the imagery deployed differently". This is what playwrights do...Is 
>there any reason to suggest Shakespeare did not do the same?"
>
>Felix de Villiers writes: "I am curious about these differences and feel
>cheated because you didn't even share a few examples with us... It's a 
>'you are wrong' statement without any exemplification. I live on a low 
>pension and have to be very choosy about the few books I buy. Over the 
>years, I have seen bits and pieces of Vickers on the Internet and 
>it's not the kind of book I would like to possess. Maybe, if I continue 
>rereading Titus, which I do very willingly, I will notice some of these 
>differences,.."

Well, I only meant to clarify, not make a "you are wrong" assertion. Apologies 
if I seemed brusque. The arguments that WS had a collaborator in Titus are not 
simple and are not necessarily to be detected by an impressionist approach 
("continue[d] rereading"). And It is true that skillful writers can vary their 
style; but at the same time writers tend to show a sub-stylistic consistency of 
linguistic habits.

Stylistic analysis, as practiced since the 1950s by (among others) Cyrus Hoy, 
David J Lake, MacDonald P. Jackson, Jonathan Hope, Gary Taylor and Brian 
Vickers, has developed quite a number of different tests that combine 
statistical and literary approaches. It is not a single test or example that can 
demonstrate anything (Look! Peele used this word and WS never did...) but the 
accumulation of evidence from many different directions which can successfully 
argue a particular attribution. And we're not talking about PROOF here, but 
evidence and arguments. No matter how strong the evidence that Peele wrote 1.1 
of Titus and WS wrote 3.1, we can never be certain, say, that WS didn't go over 
Peele's scene touching it up, or that he may not have used a fragment of 
unfinished Peele in constructing 3.1. Nevertheless, the accumulated evidence for 
such authorship divisions is often very strong, and I find it persuasive. 
Sometimes such evidence is not clear and can be interpreted different ways -- 
but that's the nature of evidence and it doesn't mean the evidence is worthless.

I'm sorry that M. de Villiers has not been impressed with what he has seen on-
line of Vickers' work and that he cannot afford to buy his book -- it is indeed 
not inexpensive, even in paperback. Perhaps it can be found in a library? Not 
sure why it is not the kind of book M. De Villiers would like to possess -- 
because Vickers is often contentious? Nonetheless it is a very good book, and 
does its job well. It would take weeks and pages of posts for me to recapitulate 
its various arguments on SHAKSPER; I don't have the time and couldn't do it as 
well. But to ignore this book (and similar studies, such as Mac Jackson's book 
on Pericles) and yet call its methodologies and conclusions into question 
doesn't seem a useful approach.

Bill Lloyd

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