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Home :: Archive :: 2011 :: September ::
Thomas of Woodstock

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0223  Tuesday, 6 September 2011

 

[1] From:         John Briggs < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:          September 5, 2011 5:34:28 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHK 22.0217 Thomas of Woodstock 

 

[2] From:         Michael Egan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         September 6, 2011 4:27:28 AM EDT

     Subject:      Re: Woodstock 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:         John Briggs < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:          September 5, 2011 5:34:28 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHK 22.0217 Thomas of Woodstock

 

It is not strictly true to say, as Gabriel Egan suggests of Michael Egan's Richard II, Part One, that the Edwin Mellen Press hadn't "sought any serious peer review of the typescript before agreeing to publish it": on the contrary, they insist on one. Unfortunately, as with so many other aspects of a book's production, they make the author responsible for obtaining it.

 

John Briggs

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Michael Egan < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         September 6, 2011 4:27:28 AM EDT

Subject:      Re: Woodstock

 

I hope that objective readers will recognise the misrepresentations listed by Gabriel Egan, et al, when dismissing the considerable evidence I present for Shakespeare's authorship of 1 Richard II. The same objection applies to the others who have publicly rejected my evidence. I shall of course be preparing an unfortunately long response--cases for authorial attribution perforce rest on the accumulation of considerable detail and often nuanced argument. The justification of course is that we have a potentially new Shakespeare play, and a good one too, that affects how we read the canon.

 

Let me take just one example from Gabriel's letter: "Michael Egan’s examples don’t meet this criterion. Literature Online has “dede as a dore nayle” as early as the 14th century and it was not uncommon in 16th and 17th-century drama. It is thus no marker of authorship, as Egan believes."

 

But if you look at my parallel quotation, you'll see that I'm not arguing that the use of the simile alone proves Shakespeare's hand, but the actual form in which it appears:

 

What, is he dead?

As a door-nail, my lord. 1 Richard II, V.i.242-3

 

What, is the old king dead?

As nail in door. 2 Henry IV, V.iii.120-1

 

There are two speakers in both cases, and the first line is as significant as the second. The question is as important as the response. It's the use both playwrights make of what in context I, of course, recognize to be a 14th-century phrase. It appears in Piers Plowman. But here we have an actual snatch of dialogue, too similar to be coincidental. Either Shakespeare stole it from Anon, Anon stole it from Shakespeare or both sequences were penned by the same author.

 

Nor is this an isolated example. I provide over 1500 good ones, together with an essay explaining my principles of selection, including the parallel phrases I omit precisely because they are too common, e.g., "Let's hie us home." In addition, I show coincidences of character, scenic construction, historical and philosophical viewpoint, technical devices, and more. Interested readers will just have to consult my actual text, long as it is.

 

It's also important to note that my case does not rest exclusively on such things as parallel phrases, etc., but on the quality of the writing. Here is just one speech, and I challenge anyone to tell me it's not good enough to be Shakespeare. Queen Anne speaks at her wedding reception:

 

My sovereign lord, and you true English peers,

Your all-accomplish’d honors have so tied

My senses by a magical restraint

In the sweet spells of these your fair demeanors,

That I am bound and charm’d from what I was.

My native country I no more remember

But as a tale told in my infancy,

The greatest part forgot; and that which is,

Appears to England’s fair Elysium

Like brambles to the cedars, coarse to fine

Or like the wild grape to the fruitful vine.

And, having left the earth where I was bred,

And English made, let me be Englished.

They best shall please me shall me English call.

My heart, great King, to you; my love to all!

 --1 Richard II, I.iii.36-50

 

BTW, a variorum edition is just that. The variations in punctuation are often significant and alter meaning, and sometimes editors repeat mistakes from their predecessors. My edition is uniquely based on a digitised copy of the original MS, analysed using Photoshop and other softwares to degrain and magnify, thus allowing me to resolve many textual ambiguities and debates. The differences between the ten editions of the text that have appeared since 1870 are often considerable and significant.

 

As for Mac Jackson's work, I have pointed out that the disagreements between us are actually between him and A.C. Partridge, whose study, Orthography in Shakespeare and Elizabethan Drama; A Study of Colloquial Contractions, Elisions, Prosody and Punctuation  (University of Nebraska Press, 1964) completely rebuts Jackson's conclusions and establishes unambiguously that the MS we possess is an early 17th Century copy of a late 16th Century play. Partridge's work is particularly significant because obviously he has no dog in this fight. I have repeatedly challenged Jackson to answer him, but he has declined to do so.

 

Michael Egan
 

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