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William Shakespeare - script doctor

At least, that's what modern scholarship seems to support.

Shakespeare scholars Eric Rasmussen and Jonathan Bate have argued just that in their new book, William Shakespeare & Others: Collaborative Plays, a book identifying 10 plays by other people that include pieces written by Shakespeare. They used both long-held suspicions about some of the plays as well as a computer program created to identify an author's stylistic fingerprint.

As John Timpane, a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, put it in his article, "Will Shakespeare, rewrite man":

One manuscript page, thought to be in Shakespeare's handwriting, is an additional scene for a play called Sir Thomas More. It's quickly written, full of cross-outs. The author doesn't even know the names of the characters. ("Hey, Will, here's a pound. Can you pump out a scene this afternoon?" "No problem, guys.")

Dialogue doctor, freshener, fixer - above all, a professional, working not alone but as a team player, best there ever was.

Fascinating stuff.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
William Ray
Nov. 21st, 2013 11:40 pm (UTC)
Rasmussen and Bate's book
So the priests have decreed that Hand D was "Shakespeare's"? On what basis? There is nothing written by Gulielmus Shakspere of Stratford except six woefully illiterate attempts at signatures. There is no basis for concluding anything literary from them. None alike, none formed the same way, even though just eleven letters. Therefore their conclusion is shameful historiography. And the stylometrics mean nothing in comparison to actually reading for Shakespeare's style and rhythms, a lofty lyrical poetic prose with evocative word images unlike any other of his time.

No doubt "Shakespeare" as a medieval guild master (Gentle Master Will) had apprentices, and this is how the English Renaissance happened. (Univesity Wits anyone?) But it happened starting in the 1580's, when Shakspere was still a child.

There is something wrong with Rasmussen's and Bate's game and they are not about to change it. The truth isn't interesting enough to them.
Nov. 24th, 2013 04:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Rasmussen and Bate's book
I agree with you that the notion that the page of additions being in Shakespeare's own hand is a suspect determination. It would be cool if it were true, but completely impossible to ever know. And hey - the words might be his, but for all we know, he used a scribe for everything, and never wrote anything but his signature.

Still, as a person with an interest in Shakespeare, the news of the new book (and attributions in some other people's plays) was too interesting to pass up.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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