Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: April ::
Re: Authorship (Was Limericks)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0336.  Saturday, 16 April 1994.
 
(1)     From:   David Joseph Kathman" <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Apr 94 18:54:40 CDT
        Subj:   Re:  SHK 5.0333  Re: Limericks and a Related Query
 
(2)     From:   Pat Buckridge <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Apr 1994 15:32:01 +1000 (EST)
        Subj:   Limericks
 
(3)     From:   James Callahan" <S3CALLAH%
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 14 APR 1994 10:26 -00
        Subj:   More "Authorship"?
 
(4)     From:   E. L. Epstein <epstein@QCVAXA.BITNET>
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Apr 1994 12:17:53 EDT
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0333  Re: Limericks and a Related Query
 
(5)     From:   Timothy Bowden <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Apr 94 11:50:56 PST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0334  Qs: Teaching; Brook's *MND*; *Tro.*; Villains
 
(6)     From:   Ronald Dwelle <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 15 Apr 94 10:03:54 EST
        Subj:   authorship redux
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Joseph Kathman" <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 13 Apr 94 18:54:40 CDT
Subject: 5.0333  Re: Limericks and a Related Query
Comment:        Re:  SHK 5.0333  Re: Limericks and a Related Query
 
Rick Jones asks whether anyone has ever suggested that Lyly and Marlowe
were not who we think they were, and the answer is, "Of course they have".
I know for sure that Charlton Ogburn Jr., the leading Oxfordian, believes
that Oxford wrote not only Shakespeare but all of Lyly's work as well, and
I think (though I'm less sure off the top of my head) that Ogburn gives
Marlowe's corpus to Oxford also; if he doesn't, there are certainly others
(e.g. Stephanie Caruana) who do.  The logic is impeccable: Shakespeare's
plays are too beautiful to have been written by the unlettered yokel from
Stratford, so they must have been written by the omniscient and brilliant
Earl of Oxford; Lyly's and Marlowe's plays are also suspiciously well
written, have demonstrable parallels with Shakespeare's work, and are much
better than what came immediately before; ergo, the same brilliant Oxford
must have written them as well.  The same logic has led Ogburn (and to an
even greater extent, Caruana) to give Oxford credit for massive chunks of
Elizabethan drama, including, I believe, the works of Greene, Peele, and
Nashe in addition to those of Lyly and Marlowe.  Now I know more sober
Oxfordians (and near-Oxfordians, like John Mucci) will cry that the issue
of whether Oxford wrote Shakespeare is separate from whether he wrote
Marlowe or Greene, but I really don't think it is; the arguments in both
cases are remarkably similar, involving the same type of "evidence", and if
one accepts the premises which lead to the conclusion that Oxford wrote
Shakespeare, one virtually *has* to accept the conclusion that Oxford (or
someone similar) wrote almost the whole of Elizabethan drama.  I hope it's
clear that I don't think much of either argument, though I respect those
who make the arguments, as long as they respect me.
 
And by the way, can we *please* put to rest that old anti-Stratfordian
canard about the spelling of Shakespeare's name?  Yes, I will grant you
that he was baptized as "Gulielmus Shakspere", and that he signed his
name "Shakspere" or "Shakspeare", and that the name on the First Folio
and most of the Quartos is "Shakespeare".  But a systematic review of the
evidence reveals how absolutely meaningless this distinction is.  About
a year ago I did an informal survey of how the name was spelled in primary
documents referring unambiguously to: a) the Stratford man, and b) the
playwright.  Guess what --- the name was more likely to appear without the
first e (e.g. Shakspere) when referring to the *playwright*.  You could
make a pretty good case that people were more likely to omit the first e
when writing longhand than when setting type: for example, on June 12, 1593,
Richard Stonley bought a copy of Venus and Adonis, with a dedication signed
by "William Shakespeare", then wrote in his diary that he had bought
"Venus and Athonay pr. Shakspere".  Many other examples could be given.
In the Bellot-Mountjoy suit of 1612, he is consistently referred to as
"William Shakespeare" of Stratford-on-Avon, though he signed his name
"Willm Shakp" on his deposition.  I defy anyone to show me systematic
evidence that *any* variation in the spelling of Shakespeare's name had
*any* consistent significance.  I'm pretty sure it can't be done, because
I've looked.
 
Dave Kathman

 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Buckridge <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 14 Apr 1994 15:32:01 +1000 (EST)
Subject:        Limericks
 
Dave Kathman sees the case for Oxford's authorship as unavoidably 'elitist'.
This is a fairly frequent response: David Bevington's equivalent phrase is
'essentially snobbish'.  It depresses me when I encounter it, because it
usually comes from people who are on the left politically, as I am myself, and
who should, it seems to me, be sympathetic to a position which acknowledges the
material cultural determinations of artistic achievement and rejects idealisms
about the miraculous operations of untutored genius.  In other words, to write
the way Shakespeare did he had somehow to acquire the huge wealth of cultural
knowledge his plays contain.
 
My impression is that, printing and Humanism notwithstanding, improvements in
public schooling were not really that spectacular in the sixteenth century:
schools like Westminster and the Merchant Taylors were certainly not typical.
An education of the kind 'Shakespeare' (the playwright) must have had could
only have been gained through intensive tutoring, a stint at the university,
and then some: the kind of education available to male members of the nobility
and gentry, and not too many others.  We know William Shakspere of Stratford
didn't go to either university - nearly all his contemporary playwrights did;
indeed, there is no evidence that he even attended the Stratford grammar school
(and no reason to suppose he would have, since his parents were illiterate).
 
The Oxfordian position is not elitist, but Elizabethan society certainly was -
an aristocratic oligarchy if ever there was one.  One of the most remarkable
effects of Stratfordianism is the way it can induce people who obviously know a
lot about Elizabethan society -- the rigid class system, with its powerful
legal and ideological supports -- to abandon that knowledge in order to swallow
the most improbable violations of social decorum, placing William Shakspere, a
journeyman player from the sticks in his late twenties, in a variety of
unimaginable relations with members of the aristocracy, up to and sometimes
including the Queen.
 
The oligarchic structure of Elizabethan society was in no way inconsistent with
'the rapid development of a theater *for* [though not *by*] the common people'
- far from it.  Such an institution was very much what Elizabeth and her
government wanted, and there is evidence that they helped to finance it from
the start.  The historical context -- and Oxfordians give it more attention
than most -- includes a series of Catholic-inspired assassination plots against
the Queen, and an enormously expensive and protracted war with Spain, lasting
until after the turn of the century.  What England needed, and was able to
bring into being, using the top-down methods natural to such a polity, was a
mass instrument of English Protestant propaganda: the public theatre.
 
Anyone who's interested more of this should read Charlton Ogburn's book, *The
Mysterious William Shakespeare* without delay.  Apart from anything else it's
extremely witty.
 
To Steve Urkowitz:
 
I'm all for *irreverence*, but it's an odd word to use for the Bevington
limericks.  Has Oxfordianism recently become the established orthodoxy at which
irreverent Stratfordians cock their sceptical snooks?  What world are you on,
Steve?  I'm on planet Earth where the Stratfordians are the kings of the
castle.
 
As for ridicule, well, there's a politics of ridicule, as there is of most
things, and there's no discourtesy in drawing attention to that fact from time
to time.  Plato's question about what to do when people refuse to accept the
conclusions of argument and evidence is one that Oxfordians confront all the
time.
 
To Rick Jones:
 
I agree with your ratio of gaps as between Udall, Lyly/Marlowe, and
Shakespeare.  I don't know of any alter egos proposed for Lyly and Marlowe.
What is known about them, though, is that they were both closely associated
with Oxford in the 1580s.  Lyly was his Private Secretary for several years.
Hence, the argument runs, to the extent that their writing approaches
Shakespeare's it is because they were profoundly influenced by Oxford's writing
 and in a position to profit by his example in part by reason of their
university trainings.
 
Pat Buckridge.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Callahan" <S3CALLAH%
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 14 APR 1994 10:26 -00
Subject:        More "Authorship"?
 
ATTENTION: Real academic query at end...
 
I personally thought that the authorship question had been put to rest when
that book came out claiming that Marlowe was Will's double.  It seems to me
that there are some more ridiculous and involved arguments proving authorship
one way or another than there are vague misdirecting words in a politician's
lexicon.  The most interesting part of the debate, for me, has been the
arguments and the ridiculous way some people back up their "claim".
 
Gold prospectors stop when the vein runs out, or the stream is clean, but it
seems "Shakespeare" prospectors never die, they just go on T.V.
 
Plugging my sarcasm into my own existence, I find myself intrigued by these
arguments and forming an opinion.  My opinion is based entirely on a random
flip of the metaphoric coin and I back up Mark Twain.  Not that Mark Twain
wrote Shakespeare, but I back up Bacon, who Mr. Clemens claims really wrote the
plays.  In a rare-ish book called _WASN'T SHAKESPEARE SOMEONE ELSE????_ (I
think, but I am probably wrong) Twain says that Bacon is Shakespeare, and that
is good enough for me.
 
Now, back to the virtually real world.
 
I am interested in the arguments themselves.  If people would like to send me
the names of authors and books whose arguments are totally off-the-wall, I
would be interested in compiling a quasi-bibliography of ridiculous Shakespeare
arguments.  You may reach me here at s3callah@ilstu please send it private, as
I do not want to take up more of the list than I have already.
 
Thank you,
jim
<s3callah@ilstu>
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           E. L. Epstein <epstein@QCVAXA.BITNET>
Date:           Thursday, 14 Apr 1994 12:17:53 EDT
Subject: 5.0333  Re: Limericks and a Related Query
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0333  Re: Limericks and a Related Query
 
What I meant was that the argument for Oxford is circular; we only know how
kings and queens spoke because Shakespeare told us. How they really spoke was
probably like Tammany ward heelers, because royal politics was as dirty as you
get. EL Epstein
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Timothy Bowden <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 14 Apr 94 11:50:56 PST
Subject: 5.0334  Qs: Teaching; Brook's *MND*; *Tro.*; Villains
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0334  Qs: Teaching; Brook's *MND*; *Tro.*; Villains
 
I believe we can all agree on the following standard scenario:
 
Edward de Vere saw a fitting match for his lovely daughter Bridget in one
William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke in-waiting.  Discretion prevented his urging
the young man to the bond as he might like (1), and so he devised a strategy.
 
On the occasion of the young lord's 17th birthday, on 8 Apr 1597, there was
gathered at the country estate at Wilton a sparkling array of the luminaries
from court, the arts and letters to celebrate.  On that occasion, put forth was
one Stratfordian with a gift of one each short poems for every year of the life
of young Herbert, with one common theme - that he should marry.
 
Of course, the Earl of Oxford was the author of the works, being of all present
the most invested in the project.  However, to the irritation of many,
including the great Lord Burghley himself, the scheme failed.
 
Oxford was understandably disappointed.  He was known to dabble in poetry, and
so as time permitted (and nobles then and now weren't particularly pressed for
time)  he continued to chronicle the interplay of Pembroke and his Cyrano in
portraits which flattered neither.  The bond presented was a bit, ah, Greek to
the taste, and there were illicit doings off-page hinted at, and gross chagrin
and guilt and woe as well.
 
Oh, dear.  But it all was harmless enough - until 1609.  At that time, the Earl
found a method of revenge diabolical in both cleverness and effect.  He
presented the accumulated 150 and more of the poems to another Stratfordian,
this one a printer, in such manner to credit the gift as from the Earl of
Pembroke himself!
 
Oh, was Mr Thorpe not grateful?  He was.  But not everyone, as might be
imagined, was pleased.  And herein lies a dilemna.
 
For the tale as told was true.  And, after taking such round credit at Wilton
for their production when they were innocent, could the Stratfordian then turn
and deny ownership of the poems?  He could not.
 
Through private pressures and amid public silence, the practical joke was
stuffed back into the bottle, and the poems were not heard from again for a
hundred years or more.  Oxford, at least, was presumably pleased, as we may
guess was young Bridget.
 
I hope this construction does not overly jostle known facts nor juggle existing
theories.
 
-Tim Bowden
 (
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 )
 
(1)  We remember how Shakespeare was pressed into duty of the same
     nature by the Mountjoys while living with them some years later.
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ronald Dwelle <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 15 Apr 94 10:03:54 EST
Subject:        authorship redux
 
                Triumph of the Will
 
     In this authorship question's dull screed,
     There is less about justice than greed;
        Some desire this man's art,
        Of his scope claim a part,
     "Just a piece of the action," indeed!
 
     4/13/94/dah
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.