The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0452  Tuesday, 11 March 2003

From:           Bill Lloyd <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 6 Mar 2003 18:56:20 EST
Subject: 14.0427 Re: Endings (and Beginnings) of Titus
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0427 Re: Endings (and Beginnings) of Titus


I'd like to move from the Ending of Titus Andronicus to the Beginning of
Titus Andronicus. Claude Caspar writes of 'Titus Andronicus: Critical
Essays', edited by Philip Kolin that

>"There is an interesting essay by H. T. Price on "The Authorship of TA." (Pretty
>much presents a compelling treatment reluctantly attributing it en toto to WS: "No
>convincing evidence has been brought forward which would connect Titus
>with any other dramatist.)"

Price's essay was written in 1943 when the case for George Peele's
authorship of part of Titus had been made only by a few scholars,
notably by P. W. Timberlake in 1931. John Dover Wilson in his 1948
edition of Titus in the New Shakespeare took up the cause and greatly
strengthened the attribution, assigning 1.1, 2.1 and 4.1 to Peele with
the rest going to Shakespeare. Not surprisingly this 'disintegration' of
the play was viewed skeptically by the Shakespeare establishment, and
many editions of Titus since then have doubted or dismissed the
arguments for Peele's co-authorship.

However, in the years since Dover Wilson's edition other scholars,
notably J. C. Maxwell, Marco Mincoff and MacD. P. Jackson have added to
and strengthened the case for Peele. The attribution finds its latest
champion in Brian Vickers.

I'd like to recommend Vickers' new book 'Shakespeare Co-Author' to those
who might be skeptical of attribution (or re-attribution) studies.
Although sometimes brusque in its criticisms, the books makes a
compelling case for the valid use of a battery of attributional
arguments, including metrical tests, linguistic tests, the judicious use
of 'parallels', and others. I must admit I was already convinced of
Peele's presence in Titus, but after reading Vickers' redeployment and
augmentation of the evidence I don't see how any unprejudiced reader
could dissent from the attribution. Vickers sums up and augments similar
cases for the presence of Middleton in Timon, Wilkins in Pericles, and
Fletcher in Henry VIII and Two Noble Kinsmen. Some of these attributions
are accepted by many, but for example as recently as 1998 the editors of
the New Cambridge Pericles bragged of their rejection of Wilkins as

Vickers' book is not perfect (e.g., at one point he confounds Lording
Barry with Spranger Barry) and his tone can sometimes be (I think
unnecessarily) harsh. But his arguments are strong and his scholarship
generally sound.

One last Vickers note. On a post this week Tom Pendleton was stated that
A Lover's Complaint was not indexed in Vickers' previous book
Counterfeiting Shakespeare. In fact there are seven indexed references
on p. 568 at the END of the works indexed as Shakespeare's, under the
sub-head "Anonymous". I have seen it said that Vickers has stated that A
Lover's Complaint is not
by Shakespeare. This is not strictly true. He does say that he was
always skeptical of its genuineness, and he does speak well of the
statistical methods of Ward Elliott and Robert Valenza, which reject A
Lover's Complaint (and Edward III). But Vickers' own verdict seems more
to be a skeptical 'not proven' than an outright rejection. For what it's
worth I disagree with Vickers on this matter. The strong external
evidence and the arguments of Jackson and others to me outweigh the
admitted anomalies in A Lover's Complaint.

Bill Lloyd

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