Attributing Authorship: An Introduction

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Cambridge University Press, 2002 M06 20 - 271 pages
Recent literary scholarship has seen a shift of interest away from questions of attribution. Yet these questions remain urgent and important for any historical study of writing, and have been given a powerful new impetus by advances in statistical studies of language and the coming on line of large databases of texts in machine-searchable form. The present book is the first comprehensive survey of the field from a literary perspective to appear for forty years. It covers both traditional and computer based approaches to attribution, and evaluates each in respect of their potentialities and limitations. It revisits a number of famous controversies, including those concerning the authorship of the Homeric poems, books from the Old and New Testaments, and the plays of Shakespeare. Written with wit as well as erudition Attributing Authorship will make this intriguing field accessible for students and scholars alike.

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When I see a dumb mistake in published work, I often try to bring it the authors' attention. Because Prof. H. Love is no longer living, I will point out his error here for the benefit of readers and potential readers.
On page 23, Prof. Love seriously misrepresents Spinoza. Love claims that Spinoza concluded that the Bible is
‘faulty, mutilated, adulterated and inconsistent, that we possess it only in fragmentary form, and that the original of God’s covenant with the Jews has perished’.
The Spinoza quote (taken from Samuel Shirley's translation of Spinoza's Latin book "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus"), is a gross misrepresentation of Spinoza's own views. Spinoza said these things in anticipation of his critics misunderstanding him and Spinoza explicitly denies that these are actually his views. It surprised me that Prof. Love could have missed the mark in such a profound way.


Individuality and sameness
Historical survey
Defining authorship
External evidence
Internal evidence
Stylistic evidence
Gender and authorship
Craft and science
Bibliographical evidence
Forgery and attribution
Shakespeare and Co
Arguing attribution
Select bibliography

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About the author (2002)

Harold Love is Professor of English at Monash University. He has written extensively on early modern English literature and the history of the performing arts in Australia.

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