The Economist is not a magazine in which I place much trust. Their semi-hysterical squealings over Brexit and their hopeless economic forecasts do not engender trust from me. So I was not surprised to see they had picked up on the claims of the New Oxford Shakespeare edition which has turned to computational mathematics to prove that 'the country bumpkin from Stratford' did not write all of his plays. So what's new, you may well ask given that even an amateur student like me is well aware that not only did Shakespeare occasionally use collaborators but was himself a collaborator on other men's plays. Also, even knowing theatre a little as an amateur myself, I am guiltily aware that I have had the nerve to change the odd word and delete several lines - 'so what's new, pussycat?'
Anyway, the editors of the New Oxford Shakespeare were so determined to downgrade Shakespeare to what they believe is his proper and lower place in the Pantheon that they resorted to the number-crunchers, their computers and statistical analysis. The writer of the piece in The Economist had the wit and intelligence (well done, that man!) to begin his report with a reference to Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia in which an Eng. Lit. don with a passion for literature sneers at a maths swot who has used statistical analysis to 'prove' that D. H. Lawrence had written an hitherto anonymous book and points out that using that same technique would 'prove' that he had also written the 'Just William' books and much of the previous day's Brighton & Hove Argus newspaper!
Apparently, this latest analytical technique concentrates on how writers used functional words like 'to' and 'a'. For example, Shakespeare had a habit of putting 'and' next to 'with', as when Claudius marries Gertrude "with mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage". But, again, even an amateur like me knows that playwrights of that period wrote their dialogue as verse, mostly iambic pentameter. Thus the line quoted above must comply and will be delivered by the actor, thus:
With mirth in fune-ral and with dirge in marr'age
The final syllable is redundant, a thro-away, but without the 'and' the line would clunk!
Quite why these latter-day Eng.Lit. swots strain so hard to reduce William Shakespeare to the level of his contemporaries I do not know. Probably something to do with the 'equality indoctrination' that was pumped into their silly noodles at University!