June

Abrams and Foster on "A Funeral Elegy"

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1514  Thursday, 13 June 2002

[1]     From:   Rick Abrams <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Jun 2002 15:54:47 -0400
        Subj:   WS's Elegy

[2]     From:   Don Foster <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Jun 2002 16:20:55 -0400
        Subj:   WS’s Elegy


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Abrams <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 12 Jun 2002 15:54:47 -0400
Subject:        WS's Elegy

As a scholar who urged the attribution to Shakespeare of W.S.’s Funeral
Elegy for William Peter, I wish to concede the force of the philological
case for John Ford presented by Gilles Monsarrat in the latest issue of
the *Review of English Studies*. Though I was aware of the high lexical
correlation of Ford’s texts with the Elegy, until reading Monsarrat I
underestimated the importance of the overlaps. Professor Monsarrat
demonstrates that the overlaps are too pervasive to be waved away as
"influence." I am now satisfied that the linguistic evidence for Ford is
stronger than for Shakespeare. Cambridge University Press has recently
announced the publication of Brian Vickers’s 628-page book on the Elegy,
which argues Ford’s authorship on the basis of "linguistic and
statistical" evidence, according to the press advertisement, and
Monsarrat hails Vickers’s book as "definitive and comprehensive." I’m
not sure I need to see much more evidence to be convinced.

Less persuasive is Professor Monsarrat’s speculation as to how the
initials "W.S." came to be attached to Ford’s poem and its dedication.
Monsarrat posits a second hand (in the dedicatory epistle) and
conjectures that the Elegy’s autobiographical passages describe not Ford
but an unknown W.S., whom Ford served as ghostwriter. I find this
explanation strained and out of keeping with the period (Monsarrat’s
ghostwriting Ford sounds more like Gertrude Stein ventriloquizing Alice
B. Toklas than, in Monsarrat’s offered analogy, a scrivener wording an
illiterate client’s sentiments). Perhaps Vickers will clear up this
point along with others, but until such time, I can only echo Leah
Marcus’s plea for literary history, voiced at an early stage of the
discussion. To my mind, despite the overlaps of phrasing in WS’s Elegy
(1612) and Ford’s *Christ’s Bloody Sweat* (1613), the Elegy reads as a
work of greater maturity, free from the adolescent high-jinks of Ford’s
youthful devotional writing. At the risk of extending Monsarrat’s
disintegrationist argument, I wonder whether not only a second voice but
a second hand is present in Ford’s poem. And on the basis of historical
information I have turned up in the past several years, I find myself
asking whether that editorial hand (or confessional voice) could be
Shakespeare’s.

Before such questions are engaged, I wish to offer public
congratulations to Professor Monsarrat for throwing open many mysteries
of a poem I once thought I knew.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Foster <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 12 Jun 2002 16:20:55 -0400
Subject:        WS’s Elegy

In 1996, having ventured an attribution of W.S.'s "A Funeral Elegy" to
Shakespeare, I was blasted in the pages of TLS.  But Shakespeare's
authorship was not as easily disproved as some skeptics anticipated.
Though several alternative attributions were advanced, they failed for a
good reason. They were mistakes. Recently, though, the French scholar,
G.  D. Monsarrat, may have succeeded where English and American scholars
have failed, demonstrating in an article in the *Review of English
Studies* that the elegy looks like the work of the Jacobean dramatist,
John Ford.  I know good evidence when I see it and I predict that
Monsarrat will carry the day.  If I may quote the elegy, "what he spake
/ Seem'd rather answers which the wise embrace / Than busy questions
such as talkers make." No one who cannot rejoice in the discovery of his
own mistakes deserves to be called a scholar.  Monsarrat's fine essay
has compelled me, largely against my will, to return to an attribution
and a text I have not considered in years.   Years ago when Ford was
first mentioned as a possible author, I scoffed at the attribution.
Ford's rate of enjambment was too low. His use of "Shakespearean who"
was largely confined to *Christes Bloudy Sweat* (1613). His distinctive
vocabulary was not (and this was a downright mistake, as I have since
discovered upon indexing the Ford canon more fully) as richly
represented in the elegy as Shakespeare's. Ford would not, in a
first-person funeral poem, attempt to deceive anyone about the author's
identity. Etc. But I ought to have attended more closely to the internal
evidence-something that, in an irony that I can only now fully
appreciate, I myself insisted on in arguing the case for Shakespeare.

The 1612 quarto may have invited its first readers to take "W.S." for
William Shakespeare, but that external evidence, I think, must now be
viewed in a new light.   I do not know how or why incorrect initials
were tagged to the title page and author's dedication, nor how the text
came to be published by Thomas Thorpe, nor why the elegist borrowed so
heavily from Shakespeare and from texts known to Shakespeare.
Monsarrat's hypothesis that Ford was employed as a ghost-writer for W.S.
seems, to me, implausible for several reasons but I have no better
solution to offer.

Since 1997 I have had a second career in criminology and forensic
linguistics that has taken time from an unfinished project that remains,
for me, a source of frustration.  The Shaxicon database-which
contributed to my own conviction, in 1996, that Shakespeare wrote the
elegy-is still unpublished.   Nor have I yet determined where I went
wrong with the statistical evidence.  Still, my experience in recent
years with police detectives, FBI agents, lawyers, and juries has, I
hope, made me a better scholar. Our courts have long exacted higher
standards for the admissibility of evidence than literary journals. If
authorship of “A Funeral Elegy" were a crime, no court in America would
have allowed "expert witnesses" on the stand to opine that the offender
was Sclater or Slayter or Strode or Simon Wastell. Nor, if Shakespeare
were charged with the offense, would the courts have allowed a defense
"expert" to opine that Shakespeare was simply not a man to write that
sort of thing. My experience with the anonymous documents in criminal
investigations indicates that competent and trusted people-math
professors, parents, biowarfare experts-often commit acts or write texts
that you wouldn't expect of them.   Personal opinions cannot stand for
evidence, nor can personal rhetoric.   But in light of the evidence
marshaled by Monsarrat, and possibly augmented by Brian Vickers'
forthcoming book, the jury need not hold forth much longer on
Shakespeare's authorship of "A Funeral Elegy." The kinds of linguistic
and intertextual evidence I myself most trust-and that informs
Monsarrat's essay-associate "W.S." more strongly with Ford than with
Shakespeare.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Shakespearean Second Hand Bookshops; New CD

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1588  Friday, 28 June 2002

From:           Sophie Masson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 28 Jun 2002 22:09:11 +1000
Subject:        Shakespearean Second Hand Bookshops; New CD

Greetings to all.

A request, and a musical suggestion: first, does anyone know of a good
second-hand bookshop specialising in Shakespeareana? Especially one
which has a catalogue, or inventory available for perusal, either in
hard copy or on the Net. It doesn


Re: Thelonious Monk

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1586  Friday, 28 June 2002

From:           R. Schmeeckle <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 27 Jun 2002 12:12:30 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1378 Thelonious Monk
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1378 Thelonious Monk

>I realize that he said a lot of quotable things, so perhaps it's
>apocryphal, but I wonder if anyone has a source for the statement
>attributed to Thelonious Monk that "there's no such thing as a bum note;
>it depends what you play afterwards".
>
>(I'm aware of his response to the accusation that he'd played a wrong
>note, "piano ain't got no wrong notes", but that's not quite the same
>thing.)
>
>There is, I hasten to add, a Shakespearian purpose to my asking.

This is a month old, but I do not see any response to Gabriel Egan's
question re Thelonius Monk's statement that there is no such thing as a
bum note.

A note by itself is without significance.  Melody, rhythm, harmony all
depend on notes in relation to other notes.  It


The Late 17th Duke of Norfolk

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1587  Friday, 28 June 2002

From:           Tom Dale Keever <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 27 Jun 2002 20:27:35 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        The Late 17th Duke of Norfolk

The following obituaries appeared today for Miles Francis Stapleton
Fitzalan-Howard, the 17th Duke of Norfolk.

SHAKSPERians may recognize him as the scion of several families that
figure in Shakespeare's plays and in Tudor history.

Demonstrating once again that one should not believe everything one
reads in 


SSE Availability -Brave New World Tour

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1585  Friday, 28 June 2002

From:           Bill Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 27 Jun 2002 15:02:47 EDT
Subject:        SSE Availability -Brave New World Tour

Here is a rundown of the remaining availability on the 2002/2003
Shenandoah Shakespeare Express Brave New World Tour, which features THE
TEMPEST, CORIOLANUS, and THE TAMING OF THE SHREW:

11 November 2002:               New England
26 November 2002:               Virginia
28 January -1 February 2003:    Mid-Atlantic, New England
15 February - 22 February 2003: Upper Midwest, New England
17 March - 22 March 2003:       Deep South, Central Midwest,
Mid-Atlantic

Any venues wishing to pursue a booking during any of these available
periods should contact Bill Gordon, Director of Tour Operations,
Shenandoah Shakespeare, by calling (540) 885-5588.  Bill can also be
reached  via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Bill Gordon
Director of Tour Operations
Shenandoah Shakespeare
11 East Beverley Street, Suite #31
Staunton, VA   24401-4364
Phone:  (540) 885-5588
FAX:  (540) 885-4886
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.shenandoahshakespeare.com

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Search

Make a Gift to SHAKSPER

Consider making a gift to support SHAKSPER.