'Counterfeiting' Shakespeare: Evidence, Authorship and John Ford's Funerall Elegye

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Brian Vickers addresses the fundamental issues of what Shakespeare actually wrote, and how this is determined. In recent years Shakespeare's authorship has been claimed for two poems, the lyric "Shall I die?" and A Funerall Elegye. These attributions have been accepted into certain major editions of Shakespeare's works. Through a new examination of the evidence, Professor Vickers shows that neither poem has the stylistic and imaginative qualities we associate with Shakespeare. He identifies the poet and dramatist John Ford as the actual author of the Elegye.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The structure of Vickers's argument is indeed brilliant as it moves from refutation to confirmation. The innnovative historian of rhetoric displays how masterfully he can put the methodology of rhetorical persuasion to his own use. The book is thus a tour de force of considerable beauty. It is also a very useful guide for those wishing to do studies in attribution." Renaissance Quarterly

"[This book] is an impressive triumph of scholarship over marketing." New York Sun

"...an important book...persuasive..." Sixteenth Century Journal

"The book offers itself as a very convincing guide on how to conduct an attribution study, with Vickers, a major Rennaissance scholar and editor of Francis Bacon, drawing on his vast knowledge of early modern grammar, rhetoric, and culture. Recommended." Choice

"Vickers...has brought clarity to the old and hotly debated question of Shakespeare's work with co-authors. As a result changes will be made in some future editions of Shakespeare." New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521772433
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2002
  • Pages: 596
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian Vickers is Professor of English Literature, and Director of the Centre for Renaissance Studies at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Zürich. He is a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. His publications on Shakespeare include The Artistry of Shakespeare's Prose (1968, 1979); a six-volume collection of early Shakespeare criticism, Shakespeare: the Critical Heritage, 1623-1801 (1974-1981, 1996); Returning to Shakespeare (1989); and Appropriating Shakespeare. Contemporary Critical Quarrels (1993).

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Gary Taylor finds a poem; Part I. Donald Foster's 'Shakespearean' Construct: 1. 'W.S.' and the Elegye for William Peter; 2. Parallels? Plagiarisms?; 3. Vocabulary and diction; 4. Grammar: 'the Shakespearean who'; 5. Prosody, punctuation, pause patterns; 6. Rhetoric: 'the Shakespearean hendiadys'; 7. Statistics and inference; 8. A poem 'indistinguishable from Shakespeare'; Part II. John Ford's Funerall Elegye: 9. Ford's writing career: poet, moralist, playwright; 10. Ford and the Elegye's 'Shakespearean diction'; 11. The Funerall Elegye in its Fordian context; Epilogue: the politics of attribution; Appendices: 1. The text of A Funerall Elegye; 2. Verbal parallels between A Funerall Elegye and Ford's poems; 3. Establishing Ford's canon; Bibliography.

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