I haven't been able to write here for awhile--stage fright, maybe. I don't know, really, why my fingers freeze every time I attack the keyboard, but so it's been for the past month. I have amused myself, if nobody else, by adding random articles to Wikipedia every time I notice a gap, but it is a puerile amusement. And it's odd seeing what sorts of things people choose to do there. (I'm sure others find my contributions equally curious.) One writer, for example, chooses to attack the authenticity of Simon Forman's Book of Plays, on rather tenuous grounds--a futile undertaking, one would think. Samuel Tannenbaum took that on years ago on the same sorts of psychological grounds--Forman wouldn't have written like that, the plays chosen for review were ones that Collier--the likely forger, if there was one--would have picked, and so on and so forth. I was particularly impressed by the point that Collier argued that the Richard II played on the occasion of Essex's rebellion was not Shakespeare's and here, by God, is evidence for a that wasn't Shakespeare's in the repertoire of the King's Men (formerly the Lord Chamberlain's Men)--but the thing is, all this should-have could-have stuff is merely suggestive. Sure, Collier or some other unknown forger could have forged just about anything that turns up in the vast field of Elizabethan drama. The issue is, did they? Frankly, I'm much happier with the consensus here, when only weak grounds have been suggested for the piece as a forgery.
On the other hand I find Go Ask Alice, a badly-written work of fiction disguised as a teenager's diary, described as a classic and treated as though it were still possible for it to be somehow authentic. I suppose that's the famed Neutral Point of View at work, but in my opinion, anyway, there's nothing "neutral" about steering a course between hard facts on the one side and sheer fantasy on the other. At some point we should be prepared to say, yes, human beings did land on the moon (even though there are those who say they didn't), and no, Dreyfus was not guilty (even though there are still a few people around who insist that he was), and yes the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide were real, and no Noah's flood and Darius the Mede were not. I'm just saying.
The Long Lingering Death of the Google Newspaper Archive - Once there was a happy land where historians could go online and explore by date and keyword through most of the historic newspapers of their town. In th...
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