The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2290  Thursday, 4 December 2003

From:           Seb Perry <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 3 Dec 2003 21:21:42 -0000
Subject:        Defining Shakespeare: Pericles as Test Case

In response to Bill Lloyd's posting about MacDonald P. Jackson's book on
_Pericles_ (sorry, it was a month ago but I only just noticed it in the

I've recently been dipping my toe in the treacherous sea of textual
criticism on _Pericles_ and one thing keeps puzzling me. I have read
argument after argument claiming that the quarto text must be the
product of memorial reconstruction. Philip Edwards's 1970s Penguin
edition perhaps asserts it more confidently than is possible nowadays,
but I notice that in the appendix to _Defining Shakespeare_ Jackson
maintains that it is still the best explanation, even if not wholly
satisfactory to everybody. All well and good, but my difficulty is this:
if the text of the 1609 quarto was produced by reporters (whoever they
might have been), does this not severely undermine the usefulness of the
stylometric tests deployed by Jackson, Vickers et al. to establish
Wilkins's and Shakespeare's respective authorship? That is to say,
aren't the stylistic tics they claim to have isolated in different
sections of the play as likely to be those of the 'memorial
reconstructer' than of the original playwright? I don't pretend entirely
to understand stylometrics so I'd appreciate any clarification of this
issue. (I do, of course, understand that the case for Wilkins's
authorship doesn't rest on stylometrics alone, but this still seems an
important point that I've not seen addressed anywhere).

Seb Perry.

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