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Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0979  Thursday, 2 November 2006

[Editor's Note: As one who had a small degree of involvement in the 
Funeral Elegy controversy, I approach this subject with great reticence. 
I confess that I am still smarting from some of the inaccuracies and 
misrepresentations attributed in print to my actions on SHAKSPER in 
regards to the affair, but suffering slings and arrows has become an 
occupational hazard for me. Hey, I'm not even going to mention bearing 
fardels. However, I never imagined that John W. Kennedy's puzzlement 
would become a "let me count the ways" thread; and before it continues 
along these lines, let me point out that there are legitimate avenues of 
discussion about the subject and the affair that could be pursued and 
there are others, as Gabriel Egan notes, that are way beyond the scope 
of this list and my patience. -HMC]

[1] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 01 Nov 2006 13:32:38 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0974 Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars

[2] 	From: 	Gabriel Egan <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 1 Nov 2006 19:00:05 -0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0974 Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars

[3] 	From: 	Harry Connors <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 02 Nov 2006 00:55:07 +0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0974 Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars

[4] 	From: 	Bob Grumman <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 1 Nov 2006 20:49:39 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0974 Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 01 Nov 2006 13:32:38 -0500
Subject: 17.0974 Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0974 Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars

John Kennedy may be correct that some of the vitriol poured on Don 
Foster's head came from the Oxfordian battlements, as the Elegy 
attribution threatened to breach their edifice.  But most of the 
criticism came from mainline academics, who were offended by Foster's 
unscholarly methods and arrogant attitude.  For example, Foster 
repeatedly promised to publish SHAXICON, the program he claimed to have 
developed that revealed Shakespeare's hand in the Elegy.  Some of those 
promises can be found in the archives. Without that information, no one 
could test his method or replicate his result, which proper scholarship 
would welcome.  Foster has yet to publish it, and I have given up hope.

On top of his refusal to allow the academic community access to his 
methods, Foster then took a highly arrogant attitude towards his critics 
who deigned to question what amounted to little more than an ipse dixit 
conclusion.  For example, Ron Rosenbaum tells us in his book that Foster 
threatened to "destroy" him.  Somehow, three respected publishers of 
Complete Works were cowed into including the Elegy in revised editions; 
it became the politically correct thing to do.  And Foster was able to 
parley his new-found fame into undoubtedly lucrative contracts to serve 
as an expert witness, portraying himself as a "supersleuth," all the 
while attacking and ridiculing those who disagreed with his incorrect 
and -- what is worse -- unsupported attribution.  (In fairness, he did 
get the Joe Klein attribution of "Primary Colors" correct, and this 
might have had more to do with his public notoriety than the Elegy 
incident.)

I find that Ron Rosenbaum's description of this history is, like Fox 
News, reasonably fair and balanced.  It is even jocular and, it seems to 
me, good natured, notwithstanding Foster's threat to destroy Rosenbaum.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Gabriel Egan <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 1 Nov 2006 19:00:05 -0000
Subject: 17.0974 Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0974 Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars

John W. Kennedy writes:

 >Speaking as someone quite outside the academic
 >establishment . . . the sheer personal hatred toward
 >Don Foster that I have seen displayed by some
 >academics is a puzzle to me.

It's not usual among academics and Foster's actions that generated it 
were extraordinary. Leaving aside the oft-repeated claim that he bullies 
people-see for example Brian Vickers's claim about a threatened lawsuit 
to change the title of Vickers's book _'Counterfeiting' 
Shakespeare_--there is the problem that he used the media to make series 
of assertions (that turned out to be untrue) that he assured everyone 
were based on irrefutable evidence that would in the fullness of time be 
available to all.

The bits of evidence that Foster was prepared to share have been shown 
not to support the claims he made for them. The rest are locked away in 
what he calls SHAXICON-a database of Shakespeare's rare-word usage-and 
until he makes it available to others there will be academics who think 
he's a fraud posing as an academic. Academics hate that.

There's also his shameful involvement in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case 
to consider, but it's beyond the scope of this list and I won't strain 
Hardy's patience with it.

Gabriel Egan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Harry Connors <
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Date: 		Thursday, 02 Nov 2006 00:55:07 +0000
Subject: 17.0974 Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0974 Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars

Whether or not the original attribution of the Funeral Elegy to 
Shakespeare was correct, Don Foster's textual analysis techniques have 
proven of some value. Most important to my mind, is that Foster had the 
exceedingly rare intellectual honesty to admit that he had made a 
mistake. Have his critics ever had the courage to say that something 
they had published was wrong?

Harry Connors

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bob Grumman <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 1 Nov 2006 20:49:39 -0500
Subject: 17.0974 Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0974 Funeral Elegy/ Shakespeare Wars

 >An anti-anti-Stratfordian lost in the fog of war might, in reaction,
 >be maintaining the Elegy to be Shakespeare's own down to this
 >day (as at least one has)

I'm pretty sure John doesn't mean me, for I've always been neutral about 
whether or not Shakespeare wrote the Elegy.  I still am, although I'm 
now plowing through Brian Vickers's Shakespeare Co-Author, which makes a 
strong case against Shakespeare.  But where, I still want to know, did 
the "W.S." on the title page come from?

I also like someone's suggestion that Shakespeare may have used Ford as 
a model for a kind of poem he nowhere else wrote.  If that were so, he 
may have thrown it together too fast to revise Ford out of it.

--Bob G.

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