The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 30.122  Friday, 15 March 2019

 

[1] From:        John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         March 14, 2019 at 12:15:52 PM EDT

     Subj:         Re: SHAKSPER: NOS 

 

[2] From:        David Auerbach <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         March 14, 2019 at 4:43:52 PM EDT

     Subj:         NOS & Egan 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         March 14, 2019 at 12:15:52 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: NOS

 

Gabriel Egan wrote: 

 

Al Magary asks me and Pervez Rizvi to address the question “what do you agree on when it comes to authorship issues?” I’ll hazard a guess that Rizvi and I agree that Shakespeare had a hand in the Additions to Thomas Kyd’s ‘The Spanish Tragedy’ that first appeared in the fourth edition, published in 1602.

 

In fact, even Brian Vickers and Gary Taylor agree on that. I think we can hold this up as a shining example of new knowledge that simply cannot be contaminated by ‘confirmation bias’, since people who have no inherent desire to agree with one another agree on this. I’m grateful to Magary for his question bringing that out.

 

While Gabriel Egan is congratulating himself and everybody else, could I be a contrarian and say that I don’t buy a word of it? This is exactly what I was complaining about regarding new theories: patching old plays is not what we expect Shakespeare to be doing. We know (or think we know) that Shakespeare collaborated with other playwrights at the beginning of his career, and again at the end of his career, but did not do so during the height of that career. Patching old plays is not what Shakespeare did: rather than revise them, he treated them as source material and re-wrote them completely (True Tragedie of Richard the third, Famous Victories, Troublesome Raigne, King Leir, Ur-Hamlet.)

In 1601 Shakespeare was busy writing new plays for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men at the newly-opened Globe: he had written Julius Caesar, Hamlet, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Twelfth Night (probably in that order) - with As You Like It somewhere in the mix, depending on its date. He also seems to have been at the height of his acting career, playing Caesar, Polonius, Falstaff and Sir Toby Belch. The last thing he would be doing is patching The Spanish Tragedy for Philip Henslowe. That is exactly what we would be expecting Ben Jonson to be doing - and in fact it is exactly what Henslowe paid Jonson to do in 1601!

If this is the sort of thing that computer stylistics/stylometry is coming up with, it shows exactly what the problem is with the various techniques.

John Briggs

 

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        David Auerbach <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         March 14, 2019 at 4:43:52 PM EDT

Subject:    NOS & Egan

 

Dear SHAKSPERians,

 

I am flattered once more by Dr. Egan’s statement of agreement with my arguments, but I fear he has left us with a paradox centering around his original statistical infelicity in the NOS:

 

"Once some plays are entirely removed from the accepted canon of Shakespeare, the ranges within which various phenomena must fall in order to be typical of Shakespeare are likely to become narrower simply because we are generating them from a smaller sample."  

 

If Dr. Egan agrees with me that this statement is simply incorrect, then he has no cause for objection to my note, as this was my very point. Yet if Dr. Egan disputes my position, he invalidates his counterargument, since it is predicated on his stated agreement with me.

 

Being left without a counterargument to which to respond, I think it best to step back and let my original note’s criticism stand unamended. 

 

Regards,

David Auerbach

http://davidauerba.ch

 

 

 

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