… by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Or so goes the argument in a new edition of Faust.
Two Romantic literature scholars, Frederick Burwick and James C. McKusick, believe that they have proved Coleridge composed a blank-verse translation of Goethe’s Faust that was published anonymously in London in 1821. Late last year, Oxford University Press published their assertively titled book, Faustus, From the German of Goethe, Translated by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
But now three eminent British scholars — — Roger Paulin, William St Clair, and Elinor Shaffer — dispute the claim.
At a stroke, their counterclaim called into question what had been hailed, at least in some quarters, as a definitive study of authorial attribution. The ensuing debate has pitted old acquaintances against each other. … It tests the usefulness of the computer-driven analysis of literary texts known as stylometrics. For some, it calls into question the judgment of one of the world’s leading scholarly publishers. In the end, it asks another question that, in the absence of a smoking gun – a manuscript of Faustus in Coleridge’s hand, for instance – may not be answerable: How much evidence is enough?