584. WAS SHAKESPEARE A PLAGIARIST?


Shakespeare may have plagiarized long-lost 1576 manuscript.

     Plagiarism software used to check student essays for copied work has uncovered an unpublished 1567 manuscript as the possible source for more than 20 excerpts from the plays of William Shakespeare.The handwritten work by George Noth, titled A Brief Discourse of Rebellion, has been highlighted by independent scholar Dennis McCarthy and La Fayette College professor June Schlueter as the potential inspiration behind several of the Bard’s famed monologues after running it through plagiarism detection software WCopyfind.The duo found traces of Noth’s work, focused on the dangers of rebelling against a king, in over 20 of Shakespeare’s passages, including, among other things, the Fool’s Merlin prophecy in King Lear and the comparison of dog breeds to different classes of men in Macbeth.  When taking one example of a similar passage in Shakespeare’s writing – the Duke of Gloucester’s opening monologue in Richard III – the scholars found the software detected “a tight juxtaposition of the same eight terms: glass, proportion, fair, feature, deformed, world, shadow, nature. Having run these words – which occur within 77 words in Noth’s writing and within 92 in Shakespeare’s – through a database of over 60,000 English books, McCarthy and Shlueter found no other work featured the same eight words in a single passage comprised of 200 words.In the book, they go onto claim that “the likelihood of Shakespeare juxtaposing these four shared terms by chance is less than one in a billion”.They added: “By sheer chance, Shakespeare hit these first four words, he still then has to match the next four words: Nature, shadow, deformed, world. This would be like hitting a national lottery twice in a row.”

From The Independent (Jacob Stolworthy )

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