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The Shakespeare Authorship Controversy

T.G.G. Moogly

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Swammi posted a link somewhere upthread to some poems by Oxford which Swammi said we're penned when Oxford was "in his thirties." I have mentioned the link already, and will say again what I have already said:

No poet of the first rank was writing juvenilia into their thirties. Some of our best poets were dead and buried before they made thirty. Chatterton (dead at 17), Keats, Wilfred Owen, Shelley, Marlowe, Rupert Brooke, Alan Seeger, Keith Douglass...

If Oxford was still mediocre (good but not exceptional) into his thirties, I submit that he could not have become the greatest poet of all time in English, in any number of years, by virtue of any number of tutors.

I submit that it is impossible, not just improbable, for Oxford to have written Shakespeare.

You will probably enjoy some of Ros Barber's presentations. She is a non-Stratfordian but not an Oxfordian.

There is obviously a lot of discussion in stylometrics concerning Shakespeare. It seems to be a cherry picking exercise actually, not unlike orthodox scholarship. Much of it attributes different parts of Shakespeare to different authors, Marlowe included. The results depend on the parameters one sets, namely if one decides a certain piece is exclusively "Shakespeare" and then proceeds to make comparisons. It's really not scientific. "Shakespeare" ends up not being "Shakespeare" depending on those initial parameters in cases. I guess that confirms the authorship question actually.

Bomber made some claims earlier about the actor being the author or along those lines and I really need to address that for my own edification. I don't quite understand the argument and need tp put it to rest. It's been rattling around too long. That's on my list when life stops calling.
 
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T.G.G. Moogly

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The internal evidence of the plays themselves -- the statistical patterns in the word usage -- makes it pretty certain that whoever wrote the plays must have been one of the actors who performed them.

https://www.shakespeareauthorship.com/ox7.html

It's one thing to hypothesize that a nobleman such as Oxford secretly wrote the plays and slipped them to a shill; but it's quite another to hypothesize that Oxford was on stage in disguise, over and over, and was never recognized.

Of course we can't rule out the possibility that Shakespeare was fronting for a different actor; but the text statistics allow identification of which roles the author played, and it lines up with what little is known of Shakespeare's own roles -- the ghost in Hamlet for instance.

Here is Foster's premise, simply speaking:
Now, I'd like to discuss Don Foster's SHAXICON database, which is currently being prepared for publication, hopefully in 1996. Ward Elliot's study provides negative evidence; it indicates that none of the claimants tested wrote the works of Shakespeare. Foster's study, though, provides positive evidence of a new and ingenious kind; he has been able to show that the person who wrote the plays almost certainly acted in them, or at the very least, this person memorized one role (or several smaller roles) in each play. He has done this by cataloguing all the "rare words" in Shakespeare (those which occur 12 times or fewer in the canonical plays), indexed not only by the play they appear in, but by the character who speaks them. In each play there is one role (or in many cases two or more smaller roles) which disproportionately affects the vocabulary of all later plays, in that the words spoken by that character consistently occur in later plays more often than we would expect by chance; this is the role that Shakespeare memorized for performance.
Is there agreement here with this basic premise about Foster's following stylometry? I don't know a lot about stylometrics or Foster's reputation for making accurate predictions. I only want to know if the participants in this thread find this premise sound.

Thanks.
 

Swammerdami

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Foster seems to be highly respected; the FBI have called on him to help with the investigations of Jon Benet Ramsay and of the Unabomber. Google may point you to the time he attributed "Funeral Elegy" to Shake-speare and later recanted, but we all make mistakes. :)

There are various stylometric measures developed by others; a very simple example would be counting adjacent word pairs: Shakespeare often wrote "... and with ..." — often enough that this can be used as a diagnostic! (On my own machine I see this pair occurs thrice in the Sonnets; five times in Venus, 214 times in the Plays.)

Unfortunately, I don't have many poems or plays on my machine besides Shakespeare's. Oxford used "and with" in his "The Lively Lark stretched forth her wing (Desire)", but nowhere else in "Twenty Poems." Kyd used "and with" in Spanish Tragedy. (Counting occurrences of "and with" may seem absurdly trivial, but at least it's easy to understand. Note that, since there are hundreds of stanzas in Venus and Sonnets, the 8 occurrences of "and with" there are proportionately about the same as Oxford's single instance in "Twenty Poems.")

As for Moogly's specific question about the actor correlation mentioned by Bomb#20: It would be nice to look at actual data and guess how significant the correlation is. Even if not already on-line, a polite e-mail to Foster or his son might get the necessary data, but I'm pre-occupied with personal matters right now.

Since I have the machine-readable plays I could repeat the study myself, but this would be a lot of work. For example, in Henry IV Part 2, speaker changes are easily found: the Speaker name is shown in all-caps. But they are not all-caps in Henry IV Part 1. Foster doubtless had unpaid grad students helping him with such trivia.
 

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... It's perfectly believable that a guy like Shakespeare did it.

I don't understand the great motivation you have to question it? As far as I know it's only crackpots who question the established narrative. Isn't that so?

Again, since you obviously haven't read the thread: The idea is NOT that "a guy like Shakespeare" — whatever that means — could not write the plays and poems. The idea is that THIS PARTICULAR GUY did NOT write them. Review the thread.

And the idea that only "crackpots" question the Authorship is a delusion fostered by dogmatic "traditionalists." One of my most recent posts mentions Professor James Norwood who teaches a class on the subject. How many Professors do I need to cite? Or will no number suffice, since all of them will be branded as "crackpots"? At least six U.S. Supreme Court Justices did not believe Stratford wrote the works — are they all crackpots? Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Henry James, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, the famous mathematician Georg Cantor. Are they all crackpots?

Read the thread. Specific challenges are posed. For example, if you think Stratford wrote the Sonnets, how do you explain the peculiar dedication of that book? (For that matter, why weren't the Sonnets reprinted in the First Folio? — This question will confuse you until you're more familiar with the cases.)

As for my "motivation", I don't really "have a dog in the debate" in the sense many detractors would like to imagine. I just like good mysteries, good detective stories.

Authors ghostwrite for each other as well. More established writers will use less established writers and have them do the boring bits, or great authors if they are pressed for time. From analyzing Salieri's style of composition we know that Salieri wrote some of Mozart's work. This is uncontroversial. Composers help each other out when they are pressed for time. Rembrandt had a whole factory of painters churning out Rembrandt style paintings, which he then put his name on. All artists help each other. The idea of the solitary genius bashing away in solitude is just a myth. Few great artists have ever worked like that. We like the myth because it elevates artists and makes them special. Rather than being actual humans doing research and scratching out a living like normal people.

Somebody in Shakespeare's position would likely more have a role of an editor than the guy actually writing. Salaries were lower back then and art was, as it is now, was relatively badly paid.

I suspect you have a warped idea of what it means to write a play. Especially in Elizabethan England.

Just like the guy on the scientific paper isn't the only person who did work. They all had teams grinding away and a network of friends and collogues helping them out along the way.

Another possibility is that Shakespeare is like Banksy. A front for a artists collective. A bunch of authors working together. Play writes often do work together. This isn't a likely theory since most scholars reject the idea. And I'm easily fooled by fine shiny academic credentials.

I'm not writing completely out of my ass. I love Shakespeare and had a long period when I read all this plays and read as much about him as I could. But we do have very little information about his life. So any theory will be questionable. We're short on hard facts. That's why I will side with the academics rather than speculating on my own.

I remember that the main arguments against him being an author was his humble origins. It was just assumed that in the 18th century only those of noble blood had artistic sensibilities. That he wouldn't have had the education to come up with all of that on his own. So argument from snobbery. I find that argument unconvincing. But we know where he got the ideas. He took, at that point, newly discovered ancient Greek plays and rewrote them in a modern context. Because these were at the time unknown he blew everybody's mind with his creative genius.

Worth noting is that is still, pretty much, how any writing is done today, either for stage or fiction writing. No matter what story you read, it will in form, comply to an ancient Greek template. James Joyce and some 20'th century modernists tried to break the mould and come up with something wholly unique. But there's a reason we find the modernist books hard to read. The Greeks perfected the art form and we're still doing it. An author who first came upon these ancient Greek works is like paddling down a river of gold. He had everything he needed to make absolute gold, regardless of his humble origins.

Today these templates are ingrained into the backbone of every living human. They define how we think about story structure and what to expect when we read. In Shakespeare's day it was the Bible that formed this template.

BTW, I first read the Bible because I wanted to better understand Shakespeare. If you don't know the Bible forwards and backwards you'll miss half of his jokes. He just assumes the reader knows the Bible. So he references it heavily.

At least six U.S. Supreme Court Justices did not believe Stratford wrote the works — are they all crackpots? Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Henry James, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, the famous mathematician Georg Cantor.

It doesn't matter how smart somebody is when they're talking about something outside their field of expertise. You know... like you and me... in this thread.
 

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It's the other way around. Non-academics questioning academia would have led to us still believing that disease is caused by evil spirits and that germ theory is bogus. QAnon isn't the smart guys who have figured it all out. I respect the opinion of experts.

It's one thing if you and me were Shakespearian scholars. But we're not. The only reason I entered into this discussion is because I saw an exhibition about Hamlet that went into great detail on how it came to be. They certainly convinced me. But then again, I'm not an academic. I rarely think I'm smarter than the experts. Never, in fact. So that's my stance in this discussion .

Then "scholars" should never disagree. But they do. And further there should never be anything new to learn because the "academics" already have all the answers. Interesting perspective I must say. Certainly not mine. Sounds like just another fallacious argument from authority.

So I assume that you don't respect your doctors opinions either? What could they possibly know that google doesn't? Have you performed operations at home many times? I mean... how hard can it be? Do you tell the pilot of a plane to move over so you can take over? I mean... how hard can it be?
 

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... That's why I will side with the academics rather than speculating on my own.

... I remember that the main arguments against him being an author was his humble origins.

Many of your posts are completely unresponsive — they seem like non sequiturs. You "side with the academics." Did you notice that most of the Oxfordians linked to in this thread have PhD's in relevant fields? If you mean that you side with a 51%-sized group of academics over the 49% group, then say that.

And, repeating myself — Do I need to write this in a larger font? — your "I remember that the main arguments against him being an author was his humble origins" guarantees that you have NOT read the thread NOR have you actually read any other Oxfordian arguments. This view that Oxfordians are "elitist" is what you get if you Google "Talk to me about how stupid Oxfordians are" rather than "Present objective intelligent Oxfordian arguments."

Remember: Google Searches are only as good as their operator.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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It's the other way around. Non-academics questioning academia would have led to us still believing that disease is caused by evil spirits and that germ theory is bogus. QAnon isn't the smart guys who have figured it all out. I respect the opinion of experts.

It's one thing if you and me were Shakespearian scholars. But we're not. The only reason I entered into this discussion is because I saw an exhibition about Hamlet that went into great detail on how it came to be. They certainly convinced me. But then again, I'm not an academic. I rarely think I'm smarter than the experts. Never, in fact. So that's my stance in this discussion .

Then "scholars" should never disagree. But they do. And further there should never be anything new to learn because the "academics" already have all the answers. Interesting perspective I must say. Certainly not mine. Sounds like just another fallacious argument from authority.

So I assume that you don't respect your doctors opinions either? What could they possibly know that google doesn't? Have you performed operations at home many times? I mean... how hard can it be? Do you tell the pilot of a plane to move over so you can take over? I mean... how hard can it be?

It is interesting that you would ask about my doctor. :) He really is a super chap, loves to see me, keeps himself in super shape, does a lot of volunteering, raises a great family, is very involved with his kids, and has a great following, so we have a lot in common. But he never had a parent with my condition so wasn't able to observe that parent - or patient - over many years. Without having done that I would never have been able to solve my particular condition. He certainly tried to apply all the medical knowledge he possessed but it didn't work. I solved it by being a good sleuth. But even that may not have been enough had I not lived closely with another person with the same condition for a lifetime.

So I give him tips about managing my condition and he listens intently, just information I've gathered over a lifetime, always out of necessity, sometimes desperation. His methods didn't work, just like they didn't work for my parent. But my methods work exquisitely, and they're not woo.

Yes, I certainly respect his opinions.
 
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T.G.G. Moogly

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I remember that the main arguments against him being an author was his humble origins. It was just assumed that in the 18th century only those of noble blood had artistic sensibilities. That he wouldn't have had the education to come up with all of that on his own. So argument from snobbery. I find that argument unconvincing. But we know where he got the ideas. He took, at that point, newly discovered ancient Greek plays and rewrote them in a modern context. Because these were at the time unknown he blew everybody's mind with his creative genius.
That's a myth. Many persons of great acclaim and accomplishment have had humble beginnings. What makes the Stratford man so different is that there is no evidence that he ever wrote anything. He has no literary trail. Scholars have spent their careers looking and have come up empty. I cannot recall the scholar's name who spent her career looking for a connection between the Stratford Man and Southampton, finally admitting there is none, saying she had failed. That the Stratford man is the author is orthodoxy without evidence, it's just that simple.

As for works not being the singular act of one person we are on the same page. Also, works are constantly being revised and improved. Da Vinci worked on his Mona Lisa regularly, only stopping at his death.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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Foster seems to be highly respected; the FBI have called on him to help with the investigations of Jon Benet Ramsay and of the Unabomber. Google may point you to the time he attributed "Funeral Elegy" to Shake-speare and later recanted, but we all make mistakes. :)

There are various stylometric measures developed by others; a very simple example would be counting adjacent word pairs: Shakespeare often wrote "... and with ..." — often enough that this can be used as a diagnostic! (On my own machine I see this pair occurs thrice in the Sonnets; five times in Venus, 214 times in the Plays.)

Unfortunately, I don't have many poems or plays on my machine besides Shakespeare's. Oxford used "and with" in his "The Lively Lark stretched forth her wing (Desire)", but nowhere else in "Twenty Poems." Kyd used "and with" in Spanish Tragedy. (Counting occurrences of "and with" may seem absurdly trivial, but at least it's easy to understand. Note that, since there are hundreds of stanzas in Venus and Sonnets, the 8 occurrences of "and with" there are proportionately about the same as Oxford's single instance in "Twenty Poems.")

As for Moogly's specific question about the actor correlation mentioned by Bomb#20: It would be nice to look at actual data and guess how significant the correlation is. Even if not already on-line, a polite e-mail to Foster or his son might get the necessary data, but I'm pre-occupied with personal matters right now.

Since I have the machine-readable plays I could repeat the study myself, but this would be a lot of work. For example, in Henry IV Part 2, speaker changes are easily found: the Speaker name is shown in all-caps. But they are not all-caps in Henry IV Part 1. Foster doubtless had unpaid grad students helping him with such trivia.

Swammerdami, thanks for the response. I should have been more focused in my question about Foster's premise. The article says:

Foster's study, though, provides positive evidence of a new and ingenious kind; he has been able to show that the person who wrote the plays almost certainly acted in them, or at the very least, this person memorized one role (or several smaller roles) in each play.
Perhaps I'm just being thick as usual but I want to understand this. Is this scientific or is it just "sciency?" Is Foster (and the article) saying he can apply this metric to any play with actors and that therefore we can apply it to Hamlet and other works attributed to the same author. Is this some kind of new foundational scientific theory about plays and playwrights?
 

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... That's why I will side with the academics rather than speculating on my own.

... I remember that the main arguments against him being an author was his humble origins.

Many of your posts are completely unresponsive — they seem like non sequiturs. You "side with the academics." Did you notice that most of the Oxfordians linked to in this thread have PhD's in relevant fields? If you mean that you side with a 51%-sized group of academics over the 49% group, then say that.

And, repeating myself — Do I need to write this in a larger font? — your "I remember that the main arguments against him being an author was his humble origins" guarantees that you have NOT read the thread NOR have you actually read any other Oxfordian arguments. This view that Oxfordians are "elitist" is what you get if you Google "Talk to me about how stupid Oxfordians are" rather than "Present objective intelligent Oxfordian arguments."

Remember: Google Searches are only as good as their operator.


I have not read the whole thread. Nor will I. I just saw one piece of information that was incorrect and had relevant knowledge to share on that one detail. So I did. I'm not arguing any case, other than that it's silly for an amateur to question something the majority of the experts agree on.

People who challenge whether Shakespeare actually wrote them is a bit like conspiracy theorists. They care more about whether the clues fit together, rather than whether or not the basic question makes sense. It doesn't. There's no reason not to think he wrote them, or was the main author.

What's also interesting is that it doesn't actually matter much. It's his work that people ultimately care about. And that stands on it's own. It's a bit bizarre having any strong opinions about the man himself, unless you are a Shakespeare scholar specialized on the man's life. I am a huge fan of his work, no matter who wrote them. So I am not going to argue for it. I let the Shakespeare scholars do that. They do an excellent job. We can just read what they have to say.

But what I've learned from reading about Shakespeare skeptics is that their motivations for challenging his authorship is rarely based on any genuine interest. It's always, of what I can see, some ideological crusade or another. As if everybody wants his authorship to prove some pet theory on humanity that they're harbouring.

A vast majority of the people who have dedicated their lives to studying Shakespeare for academic curiosity on it's own merits have come to the conclusion that Shakespeare was a real person and did write them. They're academics who are specialised in this. I am not. I'm not going to challenge them. I'd make a fool of myself. Like you are doing now.
 

DrZoidberg

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I remember that the main arguments against him being an author was his humble origins. It was just assumed that in the 18th century only those of noble blood had artistic sensibilities. That he wouldn't have had the education to come up with all of that on his own. So argument from snobbery. I find that argument unconvincing. But we know where he got the ideas. He took, at that point, newly discovered ancient Greek plays and rewrote them in a modern context. Because these were at the time unknown he blew everybody's mind with his creative genius.
That's a myth. Many persons of great acclaim and accomplishment have had humble beginnings. What makes the Stratford man so different is that there is no evidence that he ever wrote anything. He has no literary trail. Scholars have spent their careers looking and have come up empty. I cannot recall the scholar's name who spent her career looking for a connection between the Stratford Man and Southampton, finally admitting there is none, saying she had failed. That the Stratford man is the author is orthodoxy without evidence, it's just that simple.

As for works not being the singular act of one person we are on the same page. Also, works are constantly being revised and improved. Da Vinci worked on his Mona Lisa regularly, only stopping at his death.

The guy lived almost 500 years ago. He was a commoner. We barely have any paper trails on non-royal noblemen from that time.

For example, John Knox, a contemporary of Shakespeare. He wrote a bunch of books, he had Mary Queen of Scots deposed and managed to make himself into a dictator of Scotland. He reformed Scotland and made it Calvinist. Apart from the books that carry his name, we have no surviving physical evidence that the man ever existed. We only have mentions by others. John Knox was a hell of a lot more famous than Shakespeare in his day.

I think you have absurd demands on the degree of evidence to expect.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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I remember that the main arguments against him being an author was his humble origins. It was just assumed that in the 18th century only those of noble blood had artistic sensibilities. That he wouldn't have had the education to come up with all of that on his own. So argument from snobbery. I find that argument unconvincing. But we know where he got the ideas. He took, at that point, newly discovered ancient Greek plays and rewrote them in a modern context. Because these were at the time unknown he blew everybody's mind with his creative genius.
That's a myth. Many persons of great acclaim and accomplishment have had humble beginnings. What makes the Stratford man so different is that there is no evidence that he ever wrote anything. He has no literary trail. Scholars have spent their careers looking and have come up empty. I cannot recall the scholar's name who spent her career looking for a connection between the Stratford Man and Southampton, finally admitting there is none, saying she had failed. That the Stratford man is the author is orthodoxy without evidence, it's just that simple.

As for works not being the singular act of one person we are on the same page. Also, works are constantly being revised and improved. Da Vinci worked on his Mona Lisa regularly, only stopping at his death.

The guy lived almost 500 years ago. He was a commoner. We barely have any paper trails on non-royal noblemen from that time.

For example, John Knox, a contemporary of Shakespeare. He wrote a bunch of books, he had Mary Queen of Scots deposed and managed to make himself into a dictator of Scotland. He reformed Scotland and made it Calvinist. Apart from the books that carry his name, we have no surviving physical evidence that the man ever existed. We only have mentions by others. John Knox was a hell of a lot more famous than Shakespeare in his day.

I think you have absurd demands on the degree of evidence to expect.

Elizabethan writers leave paper trails. They write letters, get paid for writing, are recognized by others as writers, etc. There is none of this for the Stratford man, even though more time has been spent by scholars and academics looking for his particular literary paper trail than for all other writers combined. This is just one bit of evidence. You'd know this if you'd read the thread.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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... That's why I will side with the academics rather than speculating on my own.

... I remember that the main arguments against him being an author was his humble origins.

Many of your posts are completely unresponsive — they seem like non sequiturs. You "side with the academics." Did you notice that most of the Oxfordians linked to in this thread have PhD's in relevant fields? If you mean that you side with a 51%-sized group of academics over the 49% group, then say that.

And, repeating myself — Do I need to write this in a larger font? — your "I remember that the main arguments against him being an author was his humble origins" guarantees that you have NOT read the thread NOR have you actually read any other Oxfordian arguments. This view that Oxfordians are "elitist" is what you get if you Google "Talk to me about how stupid Oxfordians are" rather than "Present objective intelligent Oxfordian arguments."

Remember: Google Searches are only as good as their operator.


I have not read the whole thread. Nor will I. I just saw one piece of information that was incorrect and had relevant knowledge to share on that one detail. So I did. I'm not arguing any case, other than that it's silly for an amateur to question something the majority of the experts agree on.

People who challenge whether Shakespeare actually wrote them is a bit like conspiracy theorists. They care more about whether the clues fit together, rather than whether or not the basic question makes sense. It doesn't. There's no reason not to think he wrote them, or was the main author.

What's also interesting is that it doesn't actually matter much. It's his work that people ultimately care about. And that stands on it's own. It's a bit bizarre having any strong opinions about the man himself, unless you are a Shakespeare scholar specialized on the man's life. I am a huge fan of his work, no matter who wrote them. So I am not going to argue for it. I let the Shakespeare scholars do that. They do an excellent job. We can just read what they have to say.

But what I've learned from reading about Shakespeare skeptics is that their motivations for challenging his authorship is rarely based on any genuine interest. It's always, of what I can see, some ideological crusade or another. As if everybody wants his authorship to prove some pet theory on humanity that they're harbouring.

A vast majority of the people who have dedicated their lives to studying Shakespeare for academic curiosity on it's own merits have come to the conclusion that Shakespeare was a real person and did write them. They're academics who are specialised in this. I am not. I'm not going to challenge them. I'd make a fool of myself. Like you are doing now.

You would do well to say which "Shakespeare." If you mean the Stratford man you should say that. We have no evidence that he was a writer, only a tradition of orthodoxy and a mythography of his literary life.

We do have six of the Stratford man's signatures, all spelled differently and in at least five different hands, barely legible. Scholars have said he was sick. We have no evidence that he was sick so more mythography is invented.

It's common in Shakespeare circles to say, "Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare?" These kinds of silly utterances do nothing to advance scholarly research.
 

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The guy lived almost 500 years ago. He was a commoner. We barely have any paper trails on non-royal noblemen from that time.

For example, John Knox, a contemporary of Shakespeare. He wrote a bunch of books, he had Mary Queen of Scots deposed and managed to make himself into a dictator of Scotland. He reformed Scotland and made it Calvinist. Apart from the books that carry his name, we have no surviving physical evidence that the man ever existed. We only have mentions by others. John Knox was a hell of a lot more famous than Shakespeare in his day.

I think you have absurd demands on the degree of evidence to expect.

Elizabethan writers leave paper trails. They write letters, get paid for writing, are recognized by others as writers, etc. There is none of this for the Stratford man, even though more time has been spent by scholars and academics looking for his particular literary paper trail than for all other writers combined. This is just one bit of evidence. You'd know this if you'd read the thread.

Assuming that the information presented in this thread is accurate. When random people on the Internet present controversial evidence that go against established scholarly views, I'm not going to look at the evidence presented.
 

DrZoidberg

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You would do well to say which "Shakespeare." If you mean the Stratford man you should say that. We have no evidence that he was a writer, only a tradition of orthodoxy and a mythography of his literary life.

The guy whose name on the plays I love. That guy. Yes, I am aware he is mostly a mythic figure. Much like most famous people from that time.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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The guy lived almost 500 years ago. He was a commoner. We barely have any paper trails on non-royal noblemen from that time.

For example, John Knox, a contemporary of Shakespeare. He wrote a bunch of books, he had Mary Queen of Scots deposed and managed to make himself into a dictator of Scotland. He reformed Scotland and made it Calvinist. Apart from the books that carry his name, we have no surviving physical evidence that the man ever existed. We only have mentions by others. John Knox was a hell of a lot more famous than Shakespeare in his day.

I think you have absurd demands on the degree of evidence to expect.

Elizabethan writers leave paper trails. They write letters, get paid for writing, are recognized by others as writers, etc. There is none of this for the Stratford man, even though more time has been spent by scholars and academics looking for his particular literary paper trail than for all other writers combined. This is just one bit of evidence. You'd know this if you'd read the thread.

Assuming that the information presented in this thread is accurate. When random people on the Internet present controversial evidence that go against established scholarly views, I'm not going to look at the evidence presented.

How would you know they are random people on the internet if you're not looking at the thread? How would you know if any of the information is accurate if you're not looking at the thread? You're not making any sense.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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You would do well to say which "Shakespeare." If you mean the Stratford man you should say that. We have no evidence that he was a writer, only a tradition of orthodoxy and a mythography of his literary life.

The guy whose name on the plays I love. That guy. Yes, I am aware he is mostly a mythic figure. Much like most famous people from that time.

I am not aware that most famous people from that time are mythic figures. Do you have information to share?
 

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For those interested in the Stylometrics question I found this video by Ros Barber. I've watched a minute or two and she's already talking about Marlowe/Shakespeare. I also like that she's looking at the methodology and asking if it's pseudoscience or hard evidence. I have not watched the video but intend to go watch it directly. Just wanted to drop it here.

SAT Conference 2017 - 3 – Ros Barber - Stylometry: Hard Evidence or Pseudo-Science?


Spoiler alert: After having watched the video Barber hammers stylometry as done by the authors she mentions. She is a scientist so understands the scientific method. It's a good video to watch.
 

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You would do well to say which "Shakespeare." If you mean the Stratford man you should say that. We have no evidence that he was a writer, only a tradition of orthodoxy and a mythography of his literary life.

The guy whose name on the plays I love. That guy. Yes, I am aware he is mostly a mythic figure. Much like most famous people from that time.

I am not aware that most famous people from that time are mythic figures. Do you have information to share?

If we'd only accept the existence of the people we have hard incontrovertible evidence for existing, Europe in the 1500's would consist of perhaps 50 to 100 people.

But even those we have hard evidence on we can't say much about their personalities or how they did the things, they did.

Texts written about people were in most cases hagiographies. Ie, on purpose highly exaggerated. Shakespeare included.

Everyone we know from that age are mostly mythic figures.

We have very little information about what went on in people's minds from that age.
 

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The internal evidence of the plays themselves -- the statistical patterns in the word usage -- makes it pretty certain that whoever wrote the plays must have been one of the actors who performed them.
...

Here is Foster's premise, simply speaking:
Now, I'd like to discuss Don Foster's SHAXICON database, which is currently being prepared for publication, hopefully in 1996. Ward Elliot's study provides negative evidence; it indicates that none of the claimants tested wrote the works of Shakespeare. Foster's study, though, provides positive evidence of a new and ingenious kind; he has been able to show that the person who wrote the plays almost certainly acted in them, or at the very least, this person memorized one role (or several smaller roles) in each play. He has done this by cataloguing all the "rare words" in Shakespeare (those which occur 12 times or fewer in the canonical plays), indexed not only by the play they appear in, but by the character who speaks them. In each play there is one role (or in many cases two or more smaller roles) which disproportionately affects the vocabulary of all later plays, in that the words spoken by that character consistently occur in later plays more often than we would expect by chance; this is the role that Shakespeare memorized for performance.
Is there agreement here with this basic premise
I'm not sure I see a premise there. I agree with Kathman's description of what Foster measured; it matches my recollection of the original description of Foster's work I read twenty-odd years ago. If you mean do we agree that Foster didn't fake his data, I do -- somebody would have called him on it by now if he had. If you mean is there agreement that his results aren't an artifact of a buggy computer program, I have no information on that. If that's the source of doubt, there may be nothing for it but for Swammi to code it up himself and try to reproduce Foster's results. If you mean is there agreement with his proposed explanation for the correlations he observed, that's a conclusion, not a premise.

about Foster's following stylometry? I don't know a lot about stylometrics
What Foster is doing here is not stylometry in any normal sense of the word. Stylometry measures stylistic similarity between a passage and a known body of work. Foster didn't measure style and/or similarity; he measured correlations between which character used words before those words became more frequent.

Swammerdami, thanks for the response. I should have been more focused in my question about Foster's premise. The article says:

Foster's study, though, provides positive evidence of a new and ingenious kind; he has been able to show that the person who wrote the plays almost certainly acted in them, or at the very least, this person memorized one role (or several smaller roles) in each play.
Perhaps I'm just being thick as usual but I want to understand this. Is this scientific or is it just "sciency?" Is Foster (and the article) saying he can apply this metric to any play with actors and that therefore we can apply it to Hamlet and other works attributed to the same author.
No. It's not a measurement of any one play; it's a measurement of correlations across multiple plays by the same author. You couldn't apply it to Hamlet unless you had other plays the author wrote before and after Hamlet. And having actors isn't enough; the metric detects the appearance of a special statistical relationship between the author and some character in a play, a relationship that the author is observed not to have with the other characters in the same play.

So given that the statistical relationship exists, what causes it? To be the actor who personally played that character on stage in performances of the play, or not to be the actor who personally played that character on stage in performances of the play, that is the question.

Is this some kind of new foundational scientific theory about plays and playwrights?
Foundational? Hardly. But for our culture's arbitrary obsession with all things Shakespearean, it appears to be a minor contribution to what we know of human memory, worthy only of a scholarly article in some obscure peer-reviewed journal, just like a thousand other psychology discoveries. But is this scientific or is it just "sciency?" You tell us. The point of science is to discover explanations for the correlations in our observations. Foster has exhibited a plausible explanation for what caused some observed correlations. To me, that looks on its face like vanilla grunt-level legwork of science. If you think his explanation is just sciency but not scientific, propose an alternative explanation for the correlations, one that makes more sense than Foster's explanation.

You can see a list of the roles Foster deduced that the author played here. One hypothesis explains an awful lot of correlations.
 

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@ DrZoidberg — I am going to admit that I am starting to find you annoying. Almost every sentence in your latest post is wrong and condescending. (I've noticed similar posts from you in other threads.) I hope you will take this response as helpful.

@ Mods — In the following, some of my remarks directed at DrZoidberg will seem almost insulting. Please note that the post I am responding to had several insults directed at me.

Please study the STRUCTURE of this response to you, DrZoidberg. Observe that I single out brief excerpts by you and then respond to them. In future, if you want me to read your posts you should do the same. As it is, you quote my post and "respond" to it in a way that leaves me wondering what you think you're responding to, or even if you read my post at all.
I have not read the whole thread. Nor will I.
OK. You're here to teach, not to learn. Got it.

I just saw one piece of information that was incorrect ...
Precisely which piece of information was that?

... it's silly for an amateur to question something the majority of the experts agree on.

Where's the emoticon for total bafflement? The majority of experts agree Trump is a childish and incompetent sociopathic. So you agree it was silly for people to vote for him? Or perhaps even be allowed to vote for him?

And what if the "majority" is a mere 51% of "experts", with 49% opposed? Do we amateurs need to automatically bow down to the 51%??

And who the HELL determines who is or is not an "expert" on a topic like this anyway? Certainly people who have not bothered to study the cases are not experts.

People who challenge whether Shakespeare actually wrote them is[sic] a bit like conspiracy theorists. They care more about whether the clues fit together, rather than whether or not the basic question makes sense. It doesn't. There's no reason not to think he wrote them, or was the main author.

This is from a guy who, in effect, brags that he hasn't read the thread, has read few (or zero?) articles by those he calls "conspiracy theorists." Ha Ha Ha. YOU don't have any reason not to think he wrote them, because actually clicking the links — or even skimming this thread — is beneath your dignity. You already know the answer. Stand back, pretend you're not the one who wrote this (if you can), and see how utterly preposterous and condescending you appear.

What's also interesting is that it doesn't actually matter much. It's his work that people ultimately care about.

Collecting coins as a hobby doesn't matter much. It's whether they work in the candy-bar vending machine that people care about.

Can you walk and chew gum at the same time, DrZoidberg? Someone who appreciates the plays doesn't have time to wonder who wrote them? And someone who wonders who wrote them can't appreciate them?

One reason it's hard for me to find Stratfordians convincing is that many of them repeat things that are false, or don't make sense. You've hit all the buttons!

It's a bit bizarre having any strong opinions about the man himself, unless you are a Shakespeare scholar

I'm not a biologist, but I find Nick Lane's books about biology fascinating. I guess I'm bizarre.
I'm no longer a professional bridge player but I still like to play. Bizarre?
I'm not a detective, but I enjoy whodunnits. Bizarre?

But what I've learned from reading about Shakespeare skeptics is that their motivations for challenging his authorship is rarely based on any genuine interest. It's always, of what I can see, some ideological crusade or another. As if everybody wants his authorship to prove some pet theory on humanity that they're harbouring.

Wow! You totally misunderstand me. I told you that already. You repeat yourself. Do you see that you are insulting me? I explained my motives, so now you are accusing me of lying.

And what did you "read about Shakespeare skeptics"? If you want to know how those skeptics thin, read their writing, not the views of the anti-skeptics. Do you see the vicious cycle you're in? You refuse to read Oxfordians because you assme they're crackpots. And will continue to assume they're crackpots because you won't read them. You won't even skim this thread. What a joke!

Bomb#20 and others in the thread are Stratfordians. But Mr. Bomb was thoughtful enough to treat the topic with respect, and to post a link that stimulated thought and debate. You, on the other hand, want to do nothing but insult me and other Oxfordians, openly bragging that you won't even read the thread.

Your "contribution" was to mention a visit to Denmark by three actors 15 years before Hamlet was written. (Though you stated that it was just one (1) year before Hamlet was written. Ha ha ha. Your prescription that amateurs shouldn't get involved might be very good advice ... in your case.)


Assuming that the information presented in this thread is accurate. When random people on the Internet present controversial evidence that go against established scholarly views, I'm not going to look at the evidence presented.
Mr. Moogly refers, I think to my link to a paper by a Professor of Mathematics who analyzes results from a PhD in a relevant thread. These two Professors are the "random people" you insult, as you'd know if you could condescend to read the thread.

"against established scholarly views" Your ignorance makes me laugh! Out of curiosity, what is the 'Dr' in your name for?
 

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Bomb#20 and others in the thread are Stratfordians.
Hey, I don't know who wrote "Shakespeare" -- I wasn't there and I can prove it. It seems to me there's a pretty solid case that Oxford didn't write them. But does that mean the Stratford man did? That one's above my pay grade. For all I know, maybe John Heminge wrote them.
 

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@ DrZoidberg — I am going to admit that I am starting to find you annoying. Almost every sentence in your latest post is wrong and condescending. (I've noticed similar posts from you in other threads.) I hope you will take this response as helpful.

You took my first post in this thread as me debating against you. I wasn't. I saw this more as friendly conversation and jumped in with some info. You responded with debating against me. But I wasn't debating for or against anything. While I love Shakespeare's plays, I have no horse in this race.

But the meta discussion is interesting. It's interesting to discuss why anybody cares enough about Shakespeare's authorship to get this invested in it, either way. I don't understand why any amateur can be sure enough about whether he authored it or not to pick a side.

The reasons for not believing he authored it is also interesting. Like I said before, historically it's been more about snobbery and the disbelief a commoner can be a great author. Something we today have no problem with, yet those same arguments persist, for no apparent reasons. It's like still today trying to come up with methods with which to defeat Napoleon, as if he's still ravaging Europe. Why are you fighting a battle for a side that had a weak claim to begin with?

We also know, from our knowledge of theatre in general from that period, that if he did write them he would have written them together with his cast collaboratively, and whatever other consultants would have been brought in. Which takes a lot of pressure off Shakespeare to, himself, being learned and scholarly trained. The theatre owners would also have acted producers and would have put their noses in Shakespeares work and forced him to rewrite whatever they didn't like. Just like how modern movie scripts are written. Not to mention revisions over time based on how well it played to that audience.

There's a huge panoply of people involved in helping, whoever wrote the plays, who had a part in making them what they are today. That would have been true even if Shakespeare was the one writing them. Whatever other person you try to bring forward as the author of the plays will have been in the same situation. So it's a bit weird to be so singularly obsessed about the writer as a person.

We do today have a very unhealthy artistic genius cult of our revered artists, completely ignoring the context in which these artists find themselves.

If you take painting for example. Any famous masterpiece. It's easy to think that it sprung out of nowhere. But if you look at what his friends were doing at the time they're all very similar paintings. The masterpiece painting is just one tiny notch above the rest. The rest will then disappear into history and the masterpiece will survive alone without the context further elevating the image of the artist as a singular genius standing head and shoulders above his contemporaries, when he never was.

Writing is the same.

Stephen King for example. He's very different depending on how is his editor. Mozart's arias are written for specific singers to fit within the range of what those singers could do. If he'd have different singers to work with his operas would sound completely different.

It's a shame you find me annoying. But it is what it is.

Out of curiosity, what is the 'Dr' in your name for?

Dr Zoidberg is a famous highly skilled and competent medical doctor who only rarely caused his patients great bodily harm.
 

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Pardon me Bomb#20. (Do you have a preferred nickname? What did you do to Bomb#19 anyway? :) )

Trying to duplicate Foster's results would be too tedious and confusing for me. (Just now I counted to find 22,000+ distinct lower-case words that occur 12 times or fewer in the plays. Some of these really are rare, but "noses," "meets" etc. appear on the list. How did or should Foster treat inflected forms?)

What would be nice to see are details of his results.* WHICH "rare" words of Hamlet's ghost were most diagnostic? What are the comparative counts? That a word will be rare until play #N, rise in frequency at #N, and rise further for plays thereafter isn't odd. It's the occurrence of a statistically significant number of rare words in the same character of play #N that needs explanation, but I'm not sure the playwright acting that role is the only explanation.

Such a detailed summary would be nice to look at. I do trust that Foster found something significant, but I'd still like to look at it with my own eyes, even though my PhD isn't in the field of Looking-at-Shakespearean-word-statistics.

Some conjecture that Oxford acted in his own plays; to pursue that would get me branded a crackpot! But if he did, the ghost, who speaks in only one scene, would be a perfect role for him, lame and middle-aged.

* - They're likely there if I Google harder. (Or I might send e-mail to Foster or his son.) Details may have been available ten years ago but are now behind a paywall. (Just yesterday I notice someone plagiarized my work, put it on scribd.com, and I have to fight scribd's paywall to see how much was plagiarized!)
 

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Pardon me Bomb#20. (Do you have a preferred nickname? What did you do to Bomb#19 anyway? :) )
No worries; suit yourself; and that you can even ask tells me you've never seen Dark Star. Quit wasting your time on me and run to your video store^H^H^H^Hstreaming service! :) (By the way, "DrZoidberg" is also the name of a sci-fi character.)

Some conjecture that Oxford acted in his own plays; to pursue that would get me branded a crackpot!
Well don't let that concern you -- just saying he wrote them already gets you branded a crackpot. ;)

But if he did, the ghost, who speaks in only one scene, would be a perfect role for him, lame and middle-aged.
True. If Oxfordians take seriously the possibility that he acted in them, I think that gives you a better story. But it's not just Hamlet; it's play after play after play. You'd need a pretty convincing theory for how someone of his political importance could have pulled it off hundreds of times without being recognized.

(Just yesterday I notice someone plagiarized my work, put it on scribd.com, and I have to fight scribd's paywall to see how much was plagiarized!)
Ouch!
 

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Spoiler alert: After having watched the video Barber hammers stylometry as done by the authors she mentions. She is a scientist so understands the scientific method. It's a good video to watch.

Ummm... Dr. Barber has only one PhD, and it's in English Literature. Have you cleared her with our academic expert, Dr. Zoidberg?
 

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Well don't let that concern you -- just saying he wrote them already gets you branded a crackpot. ;)

But if he did, the ghost, who speaks in only one scene, would be a perfect role for him, lame and middle-aged.
True. If Oxfordians take seriously the possibility that he acted in them, I think that gives you a better story. But it's not just Hamlet; it's play after play after play. You'd need a pretty convincing theory for how someone of his political importance could have pulled it off hundreds of times without being recognized.

It seems farfetched but I won't rule it out. In that scenario his fellow actors were presumably in on the hoax, as were many other noblemen and top dramatists. With make-up it might be quite likely he'd pass unrecognized by others. Oxford was rather reclusive by that age, and this was an age without photographs: people simply didn't know what celebrities looked like.

But I place little faith in that conjecture; for one thing Oxford didn't have spare time to do this acting. That's why I'd like to see a detailed summary of Foster's analysis: if convincing it would put a big dent in Oxford's "claim."

(Just yesterday I notice someone plagiarized my work, put it on scribd.com, and I have to fight scribd's paywall to see how much was plagiarized!)
Ouch!

My hobbyist website — which has yielded me VERY little revenue — has been plagiarized so often, I just treat that as flattery! Often they credit me as the author, or even email asking for copy permission (I always say OK.). This theft by a scribd user was annoying because Scribd wants my credit card before I can view the totality of it! Scribd will almost certainly remove the one infringing page I reported, but if they stole one page, they probably stole dozens. I'd have to track them down one-by-one with Google Search — AFAICT Scribd doesn't have a useful index — and report each specific URL separately. I probably won't bother.

(No; I won't tell you what those pages are about. except that they have zero relationship to Shakespeare or literature! For reasons unrelated to TFT I'm trying to keep the Swammi=Real_name identity private.)
 

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Spoiler alert: After having watched the video Barber hammers stylometry as done by the authors she mentions. She is a scientist so understands the scientific method. It's a good video to watch.

Ummm... Dr. Barber has only one PhD, and it's in English Literature. Have you cleared her with our academic expert, Dr. Zoidberg?

Its funny how you are trying to make fun of me for trusting in experts.

A debate among experts is something different than an amateur taking the work of a random maverick academic and running with it.

Have you noticed how QAnon and antivaxxers have actual academics and experts on their side. Then they point at these experts as if that proves Covid-19 is a hoax. No, it doesn't.

Academics should push odd theories and hypothesis to their limit to see where they go. That's their jobs. It's stupid to come from outside and pick up one of these studies and think it disproves established academia.

That's misunderstanding what academics do all day and the point of the scientific method.
 

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Spoiler alert: After having watched the video Barber hammers stylometry as done by the authors she mentions. She is a scientist so understands the scientific method. It's a good video to watch.

Ummm... Dr. Barber has only one PhD, and it's in English Literature. Have you cleared her with our academic expert, Dr. Zoidberg?

Sweet. Just recalling from that video I last posted that she says she is a biologist, says she knows how to do science. So maybe she is an undergrad bio major who now does Literature.

And btw, that last video is a pretty good intro to this whole gig of computational stylistics and its spinoffs. Bomb, I think you would enjoy the video. WAB, ditto. At the end she shows how similar Marlowe and Shakespeare are in these efforts, so WAB you might find it interesting.

And btw again, just because one is a non-stratfordian does not make them anything else. Obviously one can be a non-Oxfordian just the same. The case of the Stratford businessman stands on its own. One needn't decide who other authors might be but still be firmly non-Stratfordian based on evidence against Stratford.
 

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Spoiler alert: After having watched the video Barber hammers stylometry as done by the authors she mentions. She is a scientist so understands the scientific method. It's a good video to watch.

Ummm... Dr. Barber has only one PhD, and it's in English Literature. Have you cleared her with our academic expert, Dr. Zoidberg?

Its funny how you are trying to make fun of me for trusting in experts.

A debate among experts is something different than an amateur taking the work of a random maverick academic and running with it.

Have you noticed how QAnon and antivaxxers have actual academics and experts on their side. Then they point at these experts as if that proves Covid-19 is a hoax. No, it doesn't.

Academics should push odd theories and hypothesis to their limit to see where they go. That's their jobs. It's stupid to come from outside and pick up one of these studies and think it disproves established academia.

That's misunderstanding what academics do all day and the point of the scientific method.

It is not my intention to poke fun. And you are absolutely correct that I do not trust "experts." What I trust is expert information, expert evidence. I think you can understand that. Some experts are credible because they cite the appropriate evidence. There really isn't any issue here.
 

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But I place little faith in that conjecture; for one thing Oxford didn't have spare time to do this acting.
Me neither. For one thing, the pattern continues right up through Cymbeline and The Winter's Tale, which AFAIK were never performed until after Oxford's death. Of course a couple of correlations could happen by chance...

...For reasons unrelated to TFT I'm trying to keep the Swammi=Real_name identity private.)
No problem. A lot of people have good reason to write under assumed names. I do it. Most of us on TFT do it. Come to think of it, this is on-topic -- Oxford did it, according to Oxfordians. Which makes me wonder...

The weighty case against the Stratford man has never been that a guy like him couldn't have written the works, but that a guy like him couldn't have written the works without leaving a paper trail showing how he did it. So what if the Stratford man, like Oxford and so many others, had good reason to write under an assumed name? Maybe teenage Shakespeare left Stratford with a thief-taker on his heels, lived for years under an assumed name, and started acting in London under his real name only when the heat had died down. Maybe the paper trail academics can't find is right there in plain sight, just under an alias.
 

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Bomb#20 said:
No. It's not a measurement of any one play; it's a measurement of correlations across multiple plays by the same author. You couldn't apply it to Hamlet unless you had other plays the author wrote before and after Hamlet. And having actors isn't enough; the metric detects the appearance of a special statistical relationship between the author and some character in a play, a relationship that the author is observed not to have with the other characters in the same play.

So given that the statistical relationship exists, what causes it? To be the actor who personally played that character on stage in performances of the play, or not to be the actor who personally played that character on stage in performances of the play, that is the question.

I freely admit that I cannot get my head around this. If it rattles around enough, perhaps. I just don't understand what such a correlation would prove and where the idea comes from. Sure, I might find correlations but did Foster do controls? How strong was that correlation compared to other correlations? Was it a statistically significant correlation compared to those other correlations? All those questions and more, which is Swammi's point entirely.

I am vaguely familiar with statistics, control charts, scatter diagrams, histograms, and all manner of statistical tools. I'm no expert (Hello DrZoidberg) but spent quite a few years attempting to teach persons in a manufacturing environment to not chase ghosts in the data, no pun intended but it sure seems to fit here.
 

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Spoiler alert: After having watched the video Barber hammers stylometry as done by the authors she mentions. She is a scientist so understands the scientific method. It's a good video to watch.

Ummm... Dr. Barber has only one PhD, and it's in English Literature. Have you cleared her with our academic expert, Dr. Zoidberg?

I took the time to re-listen to that video. Barber refers to herself as a "former scientist" at about 1:24 of the vid. At about 7:40 she refers to herself as "someone who's first degree was biology." So she must have some experience with the scientific arts.
 

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But I place little faith in that conjecture; for one thing Oxford didn't have spare time to do this acting.
Me neither. For one thing, the pattern continues right up through Cymbeline and The Winter's Tale, which AFAIK were never performed until after Oxford's death. Of course a couple of correlations could happen by chance...


The weighty case against the Stratford man has never been that a guy like him couldn't have written the works, but that a guy like him couldn't have written the works without leaving a paper trail showing how he did it. So what if the Stratford man, like Oxford and so many others, had good reason to write under an assumed name? Maybe teenage Shakespeare left Stratford with a thief-taker on his heels, lived for years under an assumed name, and started acting in London under his real name only when the heat had died down. Maybe the paper trail academics can't find is right there in plain sight, just under an alias.

The name "Shake-speare" became well-known in London's literary circle by 1593 with the publication of Venus and Adonis, very early in his writing career according to the traditional chronology. Most of the troublesome "missing paper trail" begins from that time: there are no dedications to this great playwright, no letters to/from fellow theatrical figures, no mentions in Stratford, no eulogies, etc.

Spoiler alert: After having watched the video Barber hammers stylometry as done by the authors she mentions. She is a scientist so understands the scientific method. It's a good video to watch.

Ummm... Dr. Barber has only one PhD, and it's in English Literature. Have you cleared her with our academic expert, Dr. Zoidberg?

I took the time to re-listen to that video. Barber refers to herself as a "former scientist" at about 1:24 of the vid. At about 7:40 she refers to herself as "someone who's first degree was biology." So she must have some experience with the scientific arts.

I got my info from Wikipedia:  Ros Barber. She has a BSc in Biology, an MA in creative writing, the arts and education, and a PhD in English literature. She has worked as a computer programmer. (She has won the Marlovian Hoffman Prize three times.) The lecture you linked to wasn't easy to follow but she did seem convinced that stylometricists tend to cherry-pick ... though she may have cherry-picked to support the cherry-picking conclusion!

In one study she comments on, Jew of Malta was one of the most "Shakespearean" plays! Another study shows a clear Marlowe-Shakespeare continuum if you do what those researchers did NOT do: arrange the plays into chronological sequence.

But these are just my musings. According to Zoidberg — who knows nothing of my own academic credentials — I guess we need to wait for a third "academic" to come along and pass a verdict since two other academics are in dispute.
 

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I got my info from Wikipedia:  Ros Barber. She has a BSc in Biology, an MA in creative writing, the arts and education, and a PhD in English literature. She has worked as a computer programmer. (She has won the Marlovian Hoffman Prize three times.) The lecture you linked to wasn't easy to follow but she did seem convinced that stylometricists tend to cherry-pick ... though she may have cherry-picked to support the cherry-picking conclusion!

In one study she comments on, Jew of Malta was one of the most "Shakespearean" plays! Another study shows a clear Marlowe-Shakespeare continuum if you do what those researchers did NOT do: arrange the plays into chronological sequence.

As I'm on a Ros Barber kick lately I thought you might enjoy this short video titled "Nine Fake Facts about Shakespeare."


[YOUTUBE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPIKgfEWRo0[/YOUTUBE]
 

Bomb#20

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I freely admit that I cannot get my head around this. If it rattles around enough, perhaps. I just don't understand what such a correlation would prove and where the idea comes from.
You're looking for unusual words in the plays. Let's say you find two words* that show up once each in Twelfth Night, and are rare or nonexistent in the plays earlier than Twelfth Night, but are more frequent in the subsequent plays. Going by the null-hypothesis, which Twelfth Night characters would you expect to speak those two words? Well, it could be any of them. It's random, so there's a good chance one's spoken by Viola and the other by Malvolio, or some other pairing like that: characters with lots of lines are more apt to have said them than characters with few lines; and it's likely they're spoken by two different characters. That's what we'd expect from chance. But what we observe is that both words are spoken by the same character -- and it's Antonio, a relatively minor part with a lot fewer lines than Viola or Malvolio. So that's kind of a funny coincidence. Now let's say it's not just two unusual words, but three, all spoken by Antonio. Now let's say it's not just Twelfth Night where this sort of funny coincidence happens, but twenty-five other plays as well. What we see is so improbable on its face that it cries out for an explanation.

The simplest explanation, it seems to me, is that whoever wrote the plays played Antonio on stage. So first he memorized Antonio's lines and then he recited them to audiences over and over, burning them into his memory. Later, when he was writing the subsequent plays, and he was searching for a word that would fit his meaning and scan right, all those words in Antonio's lines from Twelfth Night came to mind particularly easily.

If you reject that explanation because you think somebody who wasn't in the troupe wrote the plays, then you need some other hypothesis to explain all those improbable coincidences.

(* Disclaimer: this is only a conceptual explanation of Foster's method. I don't have his data; I don't know how many rare words he actually found in Antonio's lines.)
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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If you reject that explanation because you think somebody who wasn't in the troupe wrote the plays, then you need some other hypothesis to explain all those improbable coincidences.
Thank you for taking the time and allowing me to understand the reasoning. I really appreciate that and could never have done that on my own. Now that I understand the logic I can say that I simply don't accept the reasoning as reasonable.

Why? It strikes me as reading tea leaves or as I mentioned earlier chasing ghosts in the data. I see no reason for such an explanation. My instincts tell me that the legend about the author playing "the ghost" has led to the conclusion. Further, if such an explanation is scientifically sound then we should be able to apply it to all dramas everywhere and get identical results. We would have a new tool for understanding drama of that age or any age.

But if it were to be validated on other works then I could accept it, at least provisionally. I'm curious how other participants in this thread see the situation.
 

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To test the method on another playwright, it would need to be a playwright who acted in his own plays. Examples?

If Foster's idea is correct, it can be used to order the plays' writing chronologically. And indeed he claims that this deduced ordering is the traditional chronology! But that doesn't support the actor hypothesis until one examines the role(s) who spoke the rare words during the transitional play.

It is very easy to cherry-pick in studies like this. For example, Foster sets 12 as the threshold for a word to be rare. What if he'd picked 10 as the threshold? Or 14? Studying Foster's results might be inconclusive unless we repeat his experiments with different threshold settings. In fact, such cherry-picking (often not deliberate) is rather common in scientific studies!

Once the software apparatus was in place for Foster to do his study, it should have been trivial for him to repeat the study with different thresholds. I would look with disfavor if he DIDN'T do that and didn't show results for different parameters.

I am NOT accusing Foster of cherry-picking, or making other deliberate errors; he is probably quite honest. His connecting the emergence of new words to the author as actor seems like a rather clever idea! But I won't take his results seriously until I see something more than vague summaries. (Better results may be just an e-mail away, but I've got other things on my mind.)
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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I am NOT accusing Foster of cherry-picking, or making other deliberate errors; he is probably quite honest. His connecting the emergence of new words to the author as actor seems like a rather clever idea! But I won't take his results seriously until I see something more than vague summaries. (Better results may be just an e-mail away, but I've got other things on my mind.)

How is it meaningful? That's where I'm stuck. What makes it a clever idea? A clever idea to demonstrate what?

I'm with you that Foster isn't being deceitful so he is obviously trying to make a case for something. Is that "something" simply the belief that the author was also the ghost? If that's the something then I understand.

ETA. Right. For such an analysis to make sense we have to assume that the author acted in his own plays. Why would we also assume the author would act the part with certain words?
 

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To test the method on another playwright, it would need to be a playwright who acted in his own plays. Examples?

If Foster's idea is correct, it can be used to order the plays' writing chronologically. And indeed he claims that this deduced ordering is the traditional chronology! But that doesn't support the actor hypothesis until one examines the role(s) who spoke the rare words during the transitional play.

It is very easy to cherry-pick in studies like this. For example, Foster sets 12 as the threshold for a word to be rare. What if he'd picked 10 as the threshold? Or 14? Studying Foster's results might be inconclusive unless we repeat his experiments with different threshold settings. In fact, such cherry-picking (often not deliberate) is rather common in scientific studies!

Once the software apparatus was in place for Foster to do his study, it should have been trivial for him to repeat the study with different thresholds. I would look with disfavor if he DIDN'T do that and didn't show results for different parameters.

I am NOT accusing Foster of cherry-picking, or making other deliberate errors; he is probably quite honest. His connecting the emergence of new words to the author as actor seems like a rather clever idea! But I won't take his results seriously until I see something more than vague summaries. (Better results may be just an e-mail away, but I've got other things on my mind.)

One could put Woody Allen's screenplays to the same test. Woody almost always acted in his own films. Problem is, he wasn't a poet, and wrote realistic dialogue, not the extravagant poetic speech we read in the Elizabethan dramatists.
 

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To test the method on another playwright, it would need to be a playwright who acted in his own plays. Examples?
The other Elizabethan playwrights I know of who acted in their own plays were Nathan Field and Thomas Heywood. There are probably a wealth of examples from the 18th and 19th centuries, but I know squat about theatre in those periods. In the 20th century, I'd expect movies to mess things up -- you only need to say your lines enough times to get a clean take and after that the movie projector does all the work for you, so the effect of repetition on memory will be muted.

ETA. Right. For such an analysis to make sense we have to assume that the author acted in his own plays. Why would we also assume the author would act the part with certain words?
The idea is that if we were to, say, hypothesize that Richard Burbage wrote the plays, that wouldn't account for the remarkable correlations. The "reciting the lines makes the words come more easily to mind" theory would predict that the words that become more common in the plays right after Twelfth Night would first have appeared in the character Orsino's lines, and the the words that become more common right after Hamlet would first have appeared in the character Hamlet's lines, and so forth, since those are the roles Burbage played. Burbage was the most famous and popular actor in the troupe; he got most of the lead roles. If all those funny coincidences Foster's method turns up had shown up in the lines of the plays' lead characters then presumably Foster would have pointed the finger at Burbage as the true author of "Shakespeare" plays. But since they usually showed up in the lines of minor supporting roles and hardly ever in the lines of main characters, the "reciting the lines makes the words come more easily to mind" theory provides no support for the Burbage hypothesis.
 
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...In Shakespeare's day it was the Bible that formed this template.

BTW, I first read the Bible because I wanted to better understand Shakespeare. If you don't know the Bible forwards and backwards you'll miss half of his jokes. He just assumes the reader knows the Bible. So he references it heavily...

Yes! Like the Mystery Plays.

Shakespeare features prominently in this book;
In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture
669104aeed.jpg

Why? Because Latin and French were giving way to English. Because doth and ye were giving way to do and you. -eth becoming -s. Because Catholicism was giving way to Protestantism. Because Elizabeth the puritan gave way to James the not-so-puritan. Because powerful people were paying close attention to who wrote what and why.

I dont think we should be surprised that there is huge uncertainty and ambiguity as to deliberate and/or accidental misidentification of the actual authorship. Or expropriation of Shakespeare's own words.
 

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Because Elizabeth the puritan gave way to James the not-so-puritan.
Elizabeth was a pretty hardcore Anglican; James was more tolerant of Puritanism than she was. If by "Elizabeth the puritan" you mean she was "The Virgin Queen", that political slogan probably reflected her lack of husbands more than any lack of lovers...
 

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Regarding Shakespeare and the Bible:
In his documentary life of Oxford published in 1928, B.M. Ward reported finding an account book with “Payments made by John Hart, Chester Herald, on behalf of the Earl of Oxford” during 1570, with entries such as: “To William Seres, stationer, for a Geneva Bible gilt, a Chaucer, Plutarch’s works in French, with other books and papers and other books and papers... 2L, 7S, 10 d – … Tully’s and Plato’s works in folio, with other books …” (These are sources used by “Shakespeare” for inspiration. If traditional scholars ever found such a list for the Stratford man, they’d hold a parade!)

That Geneva Bible, gilted with Oxford's arms, resided almost unnoticed in the Folger Shakespeare Library (of all places!) for many decades until ...

Roger Stritmatter studied the annotations in de Vere's Geneva Bible; for this work he was awarded a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts. (Unfortunately, the dissertation appears to be behind a UMass paywall. This thread is privileged to have an expert, DrZoidberg, on the topic of academic credentials; perhaps he will be able to tell us if this PhD is more fake news. Or perhaps Comparative Literature is not the appropriate academic credential when comparing literature is the topic.) Stratfordians appear to be afraid of Stritmatter's results: they invented a conspiracy theory that the handwritten annotation's weren't Oxford's; indeed they claimed that the annotations had been made before the book was bound and delivered as new to Oxford! Scholars (or "scholars" to keep Zoidberg happy) had to do handwriting comparisons before the Stratfordians would shut up on that conspiracy theory.

https://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/shakespeares-bible/ said:
Of the more than one thousand marked passages in the Bible, nearly a quarter turn up as direct references in Shakespeare, and many more have reverberating thematic resonance within the canon. About a hundred of these references can be found in the work of previous scholars of Shakespeare’s Biblical knowledge, such as Richmond Noble (1935) Peter Milward (1974, 1987) or Naseeb Shaheen (1987, 1989, 1993). A further hundred are new contributions to what is known about Shakespeare’s knowledge and use of the Bible. “Much of what we have learned about the de Vere Bible in the last three years, and the reason for the length of time consumed by the research, is that this group of verses has steadily grown to the present number of around a hundred,” explained Stritmatter.
The passages which Oxford underlined provide circumstantial evidence, e.g.
One of the marked passages (Philippians 2:15) includes not only the words “naughtie” and “worlde”, but also, in a footnote (pasted in on the right), the word “candle”, thus providing three key words in Portia’s Merchant of Venice speech, “How far this little candle throws his beam! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” (V, ii, 61-2)

In a few critical cases, the answers supplied by the “quiz key” actually allow us to correct and fine-tune previous work done by other scholars. For example, since Carter (1905) it has been generally accepted that Portia’s stirring message in Merchant of Venice about the power of a tiny candle to cast a blazing light of moral truth in this dark and “naughty world” -“How far this little candle throws his beam! So shines a good deed in a naughty world” (MV, V, ii, 61-2)- is a paraphrase of the New Testament proverb about not hiding your light under a bushel. Carter and Noble (1935) both associated the image, incorrectly it transpires, with Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.”

If by "Elizabeth the puritan" you mean she was "The Virgin Queen", that political slogan probably reflected her lack of husbands more than any lack of lovers...
She did brag about inheriting her father's qualities!
 

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I have an idea for a screenplay. I will go into it in more detail in a subsequent post.

For now, let it suffice to say that the Earl of Oxford turns out to be the chief author of the plays. But... and there is always a (_!_)... Gulielmus Shakspere is involved as co-author.

How can this be? I will 'splain in the next post. I have to do it this way because I sometimes have a huge post, and my silly thumbs hits the wrong spot on this confounded phone, and my words are swallowed up by Oblivion...

Onwards, into the breech! :joy:
 

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I have an idea for a screenplay. I will go into it in more detail in a subsequent post.

For now, let it suffice to say that the Earl of Oxford turns out to be the chief author of the plays. But... and there is always a (_!_)... Gulielmus Shakspere is involved as co-author.

How can this be? I will 'splain in the next post. I have to do it this way because I sometimes have a huge post, and my silly thumbs hits the wrong spot on this confounded phone, and my words are swallowed up by Oblivion...

Onwards, into the breech! :joy:

Just to attach a few more words:

Will Shakspere is actually illiterate. Oxford meets with him and strikes up a conversation.

Rewind...

The first scenes of the film will show Will at work with the other actors. They are tossing iambic pentameter lines at each other, off the cuff. Example:

The lazy cat is sleeping on the floor...
The chair is on the floor and near the door...
The pen is in the hand that writes the play...
The useless silly rhyme can fuck itself...
And when the pie is sliced the dream is o'er...
And when the dragon comes the chair is burnt...

Etc...

Just random shit. The purpose of the scene would be to show that while Will is illiterate, he has very sharp poetic sensibilities. Other scenes later in the film would show Will's development with advanced poetic speech.

The Earl of Oxford begins to notice Will's precociousness with poetic speech, and there is a scene where De Vere tests Will in iambic pentameter, and in rhyme. The two strike up a dear friendship...

More later...
 

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By the bye, TJ Thyne will be playing Will Shakspere. It came to me in a complete vision, along with the music. He is the one. All he will have to do is learn a British accent, or at least the closest thing we can get to the accent Stratfordians would have had four hundred years ago.

But he is the man. Now, how to pay him? Hmmmm...

I haven't decided who De Vere will be played by yet...
 

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Okay thread, don't die...

Hang in there, thread!

Shakespeare is worth it.

Anyone have a favorite Shakespearean actor? Mine is Anthony Hopkins, who believe it or not did a rippingly good Othello.

Also gotta love Marlon Brando as Mark Antony. Oh come on! Don't think so? Who in the living heck else could put more life and energy into one of the greatest lines ever written:

"Cry havoc! And let slip the dogs of war..."

I inserted the exclamation point, because Brando most certainly inserted it.

I wonder about Olivier. Quite frankly I think he is overrated. A great actor, but there are others who are superior.

I also love Derek Jacoby, who is the best person I've ever seen to be the Chorus in Henry the Fifth. Absolutely perfect:

" Attest in little place a million..." - he speaks it just as Shakespeare intended.

Come on people! Thoughts? Opinions?

:joy:

Oooooh, let us not forget Vanessa Redgrave! Her part in the film version of Corialanus is effing impeccable!

Wait! Let us not forget Ralph Fiennes, with "I BANISH YOUUUUUUUUU!!!!!"

More later...
 
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WAB

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Okay thread, don't die...

Hang in there, thread!

Shakespeare is worth it.

Anyone have a favorite Shakespearean actor? Mine is Anthony Hopkins, who believe it or not did a rippingly good Othello.

Also gotta love Marlon Brando as Mark Antony. Oh come on! Don't think so? Who in the living heck else could put more life and energy into one of the greatest lines ever written:

"Cry havoc! And let slip the dogs of war..."

I inserted the exclamation point, because Brando most certainly inserted it.

I wonder about Olivier. Quite frankly I think he is overrated. A great actor, but there are others who are superior.

I also love Derek Jacoby, who is the best person I've ever seen to be the Chorus in Henry the Fifth. Absolutely perfect:

" Attest in little place a million..." - he speaks it just as Shakespeare intended.

Come on people! Thoughts? Opinions?

:joy:

Oooooh, let us not forget Vanessa Redgrave! Her part in the film version of Corialanus is effing impeccable!

Wait! Let us not forget Ralph Fiennes, with "I BANISH YOUUUUUUUUU!!!!!"

More later...

Okay, so nobody really gives a fuck about William Shakespeare. I should have thought as much. There are many people who entered the thread who basically didn't give a fuck.

Well, as the only person who actually gives a fuck about William fucking Shakespeare, I will end the thread on a positive note:

There is no fucking way that the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare. No fucking fucking way. Compare Oxford's poetry with Shakespeare. Do it!

William fucking Shakespeare wrote William fucking Shakespeare.

Deal with it.

If your silly theories carried any weight, the world would know it. Instead, what you have is a conspiracy theory, advocated by people who don't know jack shit about English poetry, and who don't know jack shit about William fucking Shakespeare.

I'm fucking done. Fuck,.fuck, fuck...
 
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