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

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0231  Tuesday, 13 September 2011

 

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

     Date:         September 12, 2011 1:17:11 PM EDT

     Subject:      RE: SHAKSPER: Thomas Woodstock 

 

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

     Date:         September 12, 2011 8:10:58 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Thomas Woodstock

 

 

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

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

Date:         September 12, 2011 1:17:11 PM EDT

Subject:      RE: SHAKSPER: Thomas Woodstock

 

Let me make clear that I am not making any comment here on whether or not Woodstock is written by Shakespeare. But I am concerned about a form of circular argument that Michael Egan uses in his post today. He writes: “Elliott and Valenza have their own methods of stylometric attribution. They conclude that 1 Richard II is not by Shakespeare. But since it demonstrably is, clearly there is something wrong with their approach. This implication is what lies behind the passionate attack on my scrupulously documented case—stylometrics is, in fact, unreliable.” The problem is his phrase “since it demonstrably is”: I have a great deal of scepticism about the ways in which stylometricians work, but it is not enough to say that something demonstrably is so and, therefore, the tests will not work, let alone that the sytlometricians’ awareness of the inadequacies of their method is what generates their ‘passionate attack’. Let’s try a different example: Stratfordians argue that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare and the Earl of Oxford didn’t. Imagine a statement that went: “Stratfordians conclude that Hamlet is by Shakespeare. But since it demonstrably isn’t, clearly there is something wrong with their approach.” And, of course, the reverse statement is equally poor argument: “Oxfordians argue that Hamlet is by the Earl of Oxford. But since it demonstrably isn’t…”. Egan’s tests have not been supported as proving his case by many of those who have spent a great deal of time conducting such tests and, while he believes in his own results, he has not yet demonstrated his case convincingly enough to those who have worked through his evidence. Those of us who have not examined the evidence cannot comment on its quality, but we can comment on a clear case of circular reasoning that is not helping Egan to prove his argument.

 

Peter

 

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

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

Date:         September 12, 2011 8:10:58 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Thomas Woodstock

 

Bob Grumman writes:

 

I now wonder if it is likely that an author of a work of twenty-thousand words (I'm guessing) included in his works 1500 verbal and phrasal parallels to works he had previously written.

 

Bob misunderstands entirely. 1 Richard II is an early play, 1592-3. When we match its text against the whole of the rest of Shakespeare, including works only recently attributed to him, we find over 1500 credible verbal and phrasal analogues. In other words, a single phrase in 1 Richard II may have five or six repetitions or close usages in five or six Shakespeare plays.

 

Let's take the case of Twelfth Night, since Bob mentions it. I must stress that it's a minor example in my catalogue of verbal and phrasal parallels. Nevertheless Mac Jackson himself establishes a relationship between the two plays when he notes the remarkable fact that in the whole of English drama these two alone label characters ‘sheep-biter’ (1 Richard II, III.iii.236, Twelfth Night, II.v.4-6) and ‘turkey-cock’ (1 Richard II, IV.i.125, Twelfth Night, II.v.31). He believes Anon stole these phrases from Shakespeare. I think they're there because Shakespeare used them on both occasions.

 

This is confirmed by other common usages. The ‘never a merry world since . . . ’ idiom (1 Richard II, III.iii.60), which recurs in 2 Henry VI and Measure for Measure, appears again: ‘ . . . ’Twas never merry world / Since lowly feigning was call’d compliment’ (Twelfth Night, III.i.98-9). Shakespeare evidently liked the expression and often used it.

 

Brian Vickers has established a "three-word-string" test for common authorship. I'd like to know what he makes of the following turns of phrase common to 1 Richard II and Twelfth Night:

 

Faith, my lord, his mind suits with his habit—1 Richard II, I.i.109

I will believe thou hast a mind that suits

With this thy fair and outward character.—Twelfth Night, I.ii.50

 

Why, Richard, will ye be as good as your word—1 Richard II, IV.i.145

I’ll be as good as my word.—Twelfth Night, III.iv.323

 

That’s all one. —1 Richard II, III.iii.206

That’s all one—Twelfth Night, V.i.196 

but that's all one—Twelfth Night, V.i.373 

But that’s all one,—Twelfth Night, V.i. 407

 

We must all venture, neighbors, there’s no remedy.—1 Richard II, III.iii.105

There’s no remedy, sir;—Twelfth Night, III.iv.296 

Come, Sir Andrew, there’s no remedy;— Twelfth Night, III.iv.305

But there’s no remedy;—Twelfth Night, III.iv.333 

 

and in dead of night —1 Richard II, II.i.135

even in the dead of night;—Twelfth Night, I.v.271

 

They tell thee true, sweet love. —1 Richard II, III.i.73

But tell me true...—Twelfth Night, IV.ii.113

I tell thee true.—Twelfth Night, IV.ii.115

 

An excellent device! —1 Richard II, II.ii.196 

Excellent! I smell a device.—Twelfth Night, II.iii.162

 

I’ll see ye shortly there —1 Richard II, II.iii.77

Else would I very shortly see thee there.—Twelfth Night, II.i.46

 

I’ll give thee a tester for thy pains.—1 Richard II, III.ii.138

There’s for thy pains.—Twelfth Night, II.ii.67

 

By my faith, their wisdoms took great pains, I assure ye! —1 Richard II, III.ii.191

I have taken great pains about them. —1 Richard II, IV.iii.66

I have taken great pains to con it—Twelfth Night, I.v.174

Alas, I took great pains to study it,—Twelfth Night, I.v.195

 

There is no way then—1 Richard II, V.i.15

There is no way but this,—Twelfth Night, III.ii.39 

No way but gentleness;—Twelfth Night, III.iv.110

 

Also the following: ‘I fear me’ (1 Richard II, IV.ii.162, Twelfth Night, III.i. 114); ‘the devil himself’ (1 Richard II, 24-5, Twelfth Night, IV.ii.33); ‘Prithee, tell me’ (1 Richard II, II.iii.88), ‘I prithee, tell me’ (Twelfth Night, III.i.138); ‘And these shall better grace’ (1 Richard II, III.i.46), ‘He does it with a better grace’ (Twelfth Night, II.iii.82); ‘He could not have pick’d out such another’ (1 Richard II, III.ii.199), ‘but such another jest’ (Twelfth Night, II.v.185); ‘’Tis most excel­lent, sir, and full of art’ (1 Richard II, III.ii.210), ‘thou most excellent devil of wit’ (Twelfth Night, II.v.206), ‘Most excellent accomplished lady’ (Twelfth Night, III.i. 85); ‘Come, fellow Fleming’ (1 Richard II, III.ii.30), ‘O, fellow, come’ (Twelfth Night, II.iv.42); ‘dwells here hard by’ (1 Richard II, III.iii.51), ‘the count himself here hard by’ (Twelfth Night, I.iii.107), ‘then upon some occa­sion’ (1 Richard II, IV.i.86-7), ‘upon the least occasion’ (Twelfth Night, II.i.41), ‘upon a sad occasion’ (Twelfth Night, III.iv.18); ‘I am glad to see your Grace ad­dicted so’ (1 Richard II, IV.ii.81), ‘being addicted to a melancholy as she is’ (Twelfth Night, II.v.202); ‘We are prevented’ (1 Richard II, V.i.128), ‘But we are prevented’ (Twelfth Night, III. i.82).

 

I agree that many of these are fairly ordinary, but there are a lot of them! When one repeats this exercise with every other known Shakespeare play and finds even greater numbers, it deserves investigation!

 

Note again: My case for Shakespeare does not rest only on evidence of this sort. There is above all the quality of the writing, character analogues, ways of handling scenes and plots, uses of historical sources, comic sensibility, philosophical viewpoint and numerous other coincidences.

 

I submit that this variety of evidence deserves serious and objective examination by people interested in Shakespeare.

 

Michael

 

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