Grey Matters

Grey Matters by Clea Simon

Book: Grey Matters by Clea Simon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Clea Simon
anonymous writings?’
    Lindsay snorted, but Greg and Karen looked intrigued, so Dulcie kept talking. ‘For better known works, we have a clear history. We know something about an author. We have the publication history, sometimes even the first reviews. But what about the works that didn’t take off? Or the ones that only exist in fragments?’
    ‘Like The Rampages of Austria , you mean?’ Lindsay’s voice had taken on a mocking tone.
    ‘Like The Ravages of Umbria , yes.’ Dulcie fought to hold her voice steady. She was the adult here. But as Lindsay sat up to speak again, Dulcie jumped in. Why risk a battle? ‘This is a legitimate scholarly topic. After all, there have been some famous frauds.’
    ‘Such as?’ If that was the best the blonde junior could come up with, Dulcie could cope. At least she had the attention of her other two students.
    ‘Well, like that Shakespeare play.’ Karen was into it now. ‘The one that was supposedly found in an attic?’
    ‘If someone named Will Shakespeare even wrote those at all.’ Greg chimed in. ‘After all, he was barely literate.’
    ‘Wait a minute.’ Dulcie found herself smiling even as she interrupted. Her students might have the facts wrong, but this was the most animated she’d seen any of them. ‘Shakespeare wasn’t illiterate. He might not have had much formal education, but he could clearly read because we know he could write.’
    ‘Unless the plays weren’t by him!’ Greg was getting excited. ‘And it was all a great big conspiracy!’
    ‘Well, what do we mean by “author” anyway.’ Karen’s postmodern bent was showing. ‘I mean, if the Earl of Whatever really wrote Hamlet , then maybe he was Shakespeare. At least in terms of what the name Shakespeare signifies . . .’
    And they were off.

    B y the time the tutorial broke up, some ninety minutes later, Dulcie’s head was spinning. Somehow the discussion of provenance had turned into a debate over the definition of authorship and whether a work could actually be considered ‘written’ if it drew on earlier works.
    ‘At least they’re thinking,’ Dulcie said to herself, as she clumped down the stairs.
    ‘Students?’ a familiar voice asked. Trista was holding an empty coffee pot. ‘Don’t be too sure of it. And if I make more . . .’
    ‘Yes, I will. Thanks.’ Dulcie filled her friend in on the tutorial. Trista’s response – complete with groans and eye rolling – was gratifying. She and Dulcie had bonded sophomore year during Introductory Anglo Saxon. They’d since moved on to separate specialties. Despite her post-punk piercings and bleached blonde hair, Trista was a pure Victorian at heart. But neither had much use for the latest trends.
    ‘I mean, if you deconstruct a book, what do you really get?’ Trista filled two cups with the fresh brew.
    ‘Paper?’ Dulcie was joking, but only partly. ‘Leather bindings?’
    ‘Hmm, now that sounds interesting.’
    But Dulcie didn’t rise to the bait. ‘Hey, Tris, what do you know about Roger Gosham?’
    ‘You are not—?’ Trista raised one pierced eyebrow.
    ‘No, no,’ Dulcie was quick to reassure her. ‘Chris and I are tight. I mean, unless he’s got someone else tucked away in the computer labs . . .’
    ‘Chris? Nah.’ Trista sounded so sure that Dulcie found herself relieved. Funny, she hadn’t even realized she was worried. ‘But why do you ask about that bookworm, accent on the “worm”?’
    ‘He seemed cranky, but why do you say that?’ Dulcie looked at her friend. ‘I mean, Bullock swears by him.’
    ‘Well, of course.’ Trista seemed content to leave it at that, but Dulcie was waiting. ‘He’s a total brown nose, Dulcie. Have you ever seen him with any of the senior faculty? It’s “Of course, Professor,” and “Yes, Professor.” Complete toady.’
    ‘Well, he does depend on them for income.’ More than most of her classmates, Dulcie knew the pinch of poverty.
    ‘Yeah, and

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