2013年8月17日 星期六

Much Ado About Who: Is It Really Shakespeare?


Much Ado About Who: Is It Really Shakespeare?

For nearly two centuries, scholars have debated whether some 325 lines in the 1602 quarto edition of Thomas Kyd’s play “The Spanish Tragedy” were, in fact, written by Shakespeare.
Last year, the British scholar Brian Vickers used computer analysis to argue that the so-called Additional Passages were by Shakespeare, a claim hailed by some as the latest triumph of high-tech Elizabethan text mining.
But now, a professor at the University of Texas says he has found something closer to definitive proof using a more old-fashioned method: analyzing Shakespeare’s messy handwriting.
In a terse four-page paper, to be published in the September issue of the journal Notes and Queries, Douglas Bruster argues that various idiosyncratic features of the Additional Passages — including some awkward lines that have struck some doubters as distinctly sub-Shakespearean — may be explained as print shop misreadings of Shakespeare’s penmanship.
“What we’ve got here isn’t bad writing, but bad handwriting,” Mr. Bruster said in a telephone interview.
Claiming Shakespeare authorship can be a perilous endeavor. In 1996, Donald Foster, a pioneer in computer-driven textual analysis, drew front-page headlines with his assertion that Shakespeare was the author of an obscure Elizabethan poem called “A Funeral Elegy,” only to quietly retract his argument six years later after analyses by Mr. Vickers and others linked it to a different author.
This time, editors of some prestigious scholarly editions are betting that Mr. Bruster’s cautiously methodical arguments, piled on top of previous work by Mr. Vickers and others, will make the attribution stick.
“We don’t have any absolute proof, but this is as close as you can get,” said Eric Rasmussen, a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and an editor, with Jonathan Bate, of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s edition of the complete Shakespeare.
“I think we can now say with some authority that, yes, this is Shakespeare,” Mr. Rasmussen said. “It has his fingerprints all over it.”
Mr. Rasmussen and Mr. Bate are including “The Spanish Tragedy” in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new edition of Shakespeare’s collaboratively authored plays, to be published in November.
If embraced by the broader world of Shakespeareans, the Additional Passages would become the first largely undisputed new addition to the canon since Shakespeare’s contributions to “Edward III” — another play that some have attributed to Kyd — began appearing in scholarly editions in the mid-1990s.
Acceptance is by no means assured. Tiffany Stern, a professor of early modern drama at Oxford University, praised the empirical rigor of Mr. Bruster’s paper, but said that some new attributions were driven less by solid evidence than by publishers’ desire to offer “more Shakespeare” than their rivals.
“The arguments for ‘The Spanish Tragedy’ are better than for most” putative Shakespeare collaborations, Ms. Stern said. “But I think we’re going a bit Shakespeare-attribution crazy and shoving a lot of stuff in that maybe shouldn’t be there.”
Elizabethan theater was intensely collaborative, with playwrights often punching up old plays or working with other dramatists to cobble together new ones, in the manner of Hollywood script doctors. The 1602 Additional Passages to “The Spanish Tragedy,” inserted more than a decade after Kyd wrote the original, updated the bloody revenge play with a bit of psychological realism, which had become fashionable. (It is not known whether Kyd, who died in 1594, ever met Shakespeare.)
The idea that Shakespeare may have written the Additional Passages — which include a “Hamlet”-like scene of a grief-maddened father discoursing on the death of his son — was first broached in 1833 by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. But that claim remained a distinctly minority position well into the 20th century, even as scholars began using sophisticated computer software to detect subtle linguistic patterns that seemed to link the passages to Shakespeare’s other work.
Mr. Bruster said he himself was a skeptic until he read Mr. Vickers’s 2012 article, which presented voluminous circumstantial historical evidence alongside linguistic patterns unearthed by software designed to uncover student plagiarism.
Mr. Bruster turned to perhaps the most literal source of authority: Shakespeare’s own pen.
In his paper, Mr. Bruster identifies 24 broad spelling patterns — including shortened past tenses (like “blest” for “blessed”) and single medial consonants (like “sorow” instead of “sorrow”) — that occur both in the Additional Passages, for which no known manuscript survives, and the Shakespeare handwriting sample in the British Library. He also cites nine textual “corruptions” (like “creuie” instead of “creuic,” modernized as “crevice”) that he believes can be explained as misreadings of Shakespeare’s handwriting.
These irregularities, considered individually, are not necessarily unique to Shakespeare. But taken together, Mr. Bruster argues, they strongly suggest that the Additional Passages were set in type from pages written, in the most literal sense, by Shakespeare.
“What I’m getting at is the DNA of Shakespeare’s words themselves, the way he formed those words with his pen on the page,” he said.
A printer’s misreading, Mr. Bruster argues, may also explain a particularly clumsy and nongrammatical stretch in the Additional Passages.
Mr. Bruster once counted himself among the many scholars who have thought the passage in the quarto was simply too poorly written to be Shakespeare. “But once you realize that it’s Shakespeare’s handwriting that’s responsible for the misreading, it’s no longer a bad line,” Mr. Bruster said. “It’s actually a gorgeous passage.”
Finding some of Shakespeare’s lines embedded in another writer’s plays may not carry the frisson of announcing the discovery of a previously unknown poem entirely by Shakespeare. But Mr. Bruster’s paper reflects current scholarly interest in Shakespeare as a playwright who frequently collaborated with others — including, Mr. Vickers has controversially argued, on plays we think of as coming solely from his own pen.
“Shakespeare wasn’t a solitary genius, flying above everyone else,” Mr. Vickers said. “He was a working man of the theater. If his company needed a new play, he’d get together with someone else and get it done.”


Marsha Miller
德克薩斯大學的教授道格拉斯·布拉斯特稱,他發現了不同的拼寫模式,能強有力地證明道托馬斯·基德的劇作《西班牙悲劇》中有一部分出自莎士比亞之手。Douglas Bruster, a University of Texas professor, has identified various spelling patterns that he says strongly suggest that part of Thomas Kyd’s “ Spanish Tragedy” was written by Shakespeare.
將近兩個世紀以來,學界一直在爭論,托馬斯·基德(Thomas Kyd)的劇作《西班牙悲劇》(The Spanish Tragedy)1602年的四開本版本里,是否有325行出自莎士比亞(Shakespeare)之手。
去年,英國學者布萊恩·維克斯(Brian Vickers)依據計算機分析提出觀點認為,這些所謂的「增補段落」的確是莎翁作品。這一論點得到了一些人的讚許,被譽為利用高科技考據英格蘭伊麗莎白一世時期文本的一大最新突破。
  • 檢視大圖 這份莎士比亞手稿中的一些線索,帶來了一項新發現,即他寫了托馬斯·基德的劇作《西班牙悲劇》中的一部分。
    The British Library Board
  • 檢視大圖 托馬斯·基德的劇作《西班牙悲劇》。
    Culture Club/Getty Images

不過目前,德克薩斯大學(University of Texas)的一名教授稱,他作出的發現更接近確鑿證據,靠的卻是更為老派的辦法:分析莎士比亞潦草的筆跡。
在期刊《札記與問答》(Notes and Queries)9月號即將發表的一篇長僅四頁、言簡意賅的論文里,道格拉斯·布拉斯特(Douglas Bruster)提出,「增補段落」中的多處異常特徵——包括令一些質疑者感到遠遜於莎翁水準的彆扭台詞——或許可以解釋為印刷作坊對莎士比亞手跡的誤 讀。
判斷作品出自莎翁手筆,這是一項艱苦的探索。1996年, 計算機文本分析領域的先行者唐納德·福士特(Donald Foster)引來了各家報紙頭條的關注,因為他宣稱,莎士比亞創作了伊麗莎白時代一首生僻的詩歌《葬禮輓歌》(A Funeral Elegy),結果卻是在六年後悄無聲息地撤回了他的論點,因為維克斯等人的分析已將該作品和別的作者聯繫了起來。
「我們並無絕對意義上的證明,但現有這些已是最接近確證的 了,」內華達大學雷諾分校(University of Nevada, Reno)的教授埃里克·拉斯穆森說。他和喬納森·貝特(Jonathan Bate)同為英國皇家莎士比亞劇團(Royal Shakespeare Company)版莎翁作品全集的編輯。
如果能得到更廣大的莎士比亞研究者群體的接受,這些「增補段落」將成為多年來對莎翁正典首次廣受認可的增訂。上一次的增訂還是在1990年代中期,當時莎士比亞為《愛德華三世》(Edward III)創作的部分開始在學術類版本中出現(該劇也被一些學者歸於基德名下)。
不過,該論點並沒有十足把握得到普遍認同。牛津大學 (Oxford University)早期現代戲劇教授蒂法妮·斯特恩(Tiffany Stern)對布拉斯特論文實事求是的嚴謹性表示稱讚,但她也表示,某些增補莎翁名下作品的舉動不完全是基於確鑿證據,而是受到了出版商的慾望的驅使,他 們希望比競爭對手推出「更多莎士比亞作品」。
伊麗莎白一世時期的戲劇界有很強的協同創作風氣,當時的編 劇時常將老劇翻新,或是同他人一道寫作,湊出新點子來,就像今天的好萊塢劇本寫手一樣。1602年版《西班牙悲劇》的「增補段落」添加於基德創作原劇十餘 年之後,它給這部血腥的復仇劇增添了現實主義內心戲的成分,這在當時變得相當流行。(目前尚不知1594年去世的基德是否曾與莎士比亞謀面。)
莎士比亞有可能創作了「增補段落」——其中包括一段《哈姆 雷特》(Hamlet)式的場景,由一位因悲致狂的父親講述其子之死——這種想法在1833年由塞繆爾·泰勒·柯勒律治(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)首先提到。但一直到20世紀,它還只是一種十分小眾的觀點,儘管學者那時已經開始用精密的計算機軟件來識別細微的語言模式,並似乎發 現這段文字和莎士比亞其他作品之間存在聯繫。
在他的論文里,布拉斯特指出,有24種主要的拼寫特性—— 包括過去式縮短(如用「blest」而非「blessed」)和音節間的輔音字母單寫(如寫成「sorow」而非「sorrow」)——既出現於原稿已散 佚的「增補段落」,又出現於大英圖書館(British Library)收藏的莎士比亞手稿。他還點出九處文本「訛誤」(如寫成「creuie」而非正確的「creuic」,現代拼寫為「crevice」), 並認為它們可以解釋成誤讀莎士比亞原稿字跡的後果。
找出莎士比亞鑲嵌在他人劇作中的台詞,比起宣稱發現一整首 前所未知的莎士比亞詩作,造成的轟動要小得多。不過布拉斯特的文章仍然反映出,當前學界對莎士比亞作為一名經常與人合作的劇作家這種身份抱有濃厚興趣。按 照維克斯曾經引發爭議的說法,這當中也包括我們一直以為是他獨自創作的劇本。