The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0261  Wednesday, 27 May 2009

From:       Matthew Cossolotto <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 20 May 2009 21:31:25 -0400
Subject: 20.0245 May 20, 1609
Comment:    RE: SHK 20.0245 May 20, 1609

I couldn't help noticing that the concluding paragraph below is based on 
a series of conjectures. See words highlighted in CAPS below.

 >PERHAPS Thorpe was an innocent dupe and it was John Davies of Hereford
 >who_deliberately_ passed the poem ["A Lover's Complaint"] off as
 >Shakespeare's, deceiving the publisher, who took the poem at face value
 >because it came from the very same "source" who had provided him with
 >the sonnets. Indeed, the manuscript that reached Thorpe MAY WELL HAVE
 >been written in the same hand as the sonnets that he had (PROBABLY
 >ALREADY) received precisely because it was Davies who wrote "A
 >Lover's Complaint," though only after first copying out his
 >favorite poet's sonnets, which he'd acquired some time ago. (188)

I'm not sure what to make of this conclusion. On what evidence is it 
based? PERHAPS Thorpe was a dupe and PERHAPS Davies passed off A Lover's 
Complaint as Shakespeare's . . . And the manuscript MAY WELL HAVE been 
in the same hand as the Sonnets that Thorpe PROBABLY ALREADY received???

Isn't the real issue here that we have no evidence that Shakespeare (who 
in 1609 was a very well-known poet and playwright) ever complained about 
Davies passing off A Lover's Complaint as Shakespeare's?  First of all, 
it's hard to see what motive Davies would have for doing this, but 
beyond that what motive would Shakespeare have for remaining silent? 
What is Clinton Heylin's explanation for Shakespeare's silence from 1609 
onwards?  It seems to me that those who argue that Shakespeare did not 
write A Lover's Complaint are obligated to explain convincingly why he 
remained silent after the poem was published and attributed to him in 
1609. Since Shakespeare does not mention the Sonnets or A Lover's 
Complaint in his 1616 will or at any point leading up to his death, is 
it possible that Shakespeare was not even aware the Sonnets had been 
published with A Lover's Complaint included?  Why wouldn't Shakespeare 
complain about this blatant misattribution, if indeed that's what it 

Matthew Cossolotto

[Editor's Note: The authorship of "A Lover's Complaint" is a topic 
widely discussed of late. Much can be found in the SHAKSPER archives by 
using the search function and limiting one's search to the past few 
years. In a few months, I will be re-visiting the issues myself when I 
return to this poem as part of my edition of The Poems for ISE. I will 
be at the time in a better position to respond to some of the questions 
you raise here. -HMC]

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