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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: May ::
Authorship: Polonius, Works of Urkowitz; Green's Book
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0447.  Friday, 20 May 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Pat Buckridge <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 May 1994 09:33:41 +1000 (EST)
        Subj:   [Polonius/Burghley]
 
(2)     From:   William Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 May 1994 20:26:39 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   The Works of Steven Urkowitz
 
(3)     From:   William Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 May 1994 20:58:50 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Martin Green's recent book
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Buckridge <
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Date:           Friday, 20 May 1994 09:33:41 +1000 (EST)
Subject:        [Polonius/Burghley]
 
Thomas I. Ellis makes a number of statements with which I have to take issue:
 
1. Nobody, to my knowledge, has ever claimed that the Polonius/Burghley
connection 'proves' that 'Shakespeare' was Oxford.  It's just one of several
hundred pieces of cicumstantial evidence that point in that direction; but it
is a pretty strong piece, for reasons recently outlined by John Mucci.
 
2. So far from being 'another problem' with the Oxford Theory, Edward De Vere's
family relationship to Burghley (which Ellis mentions as if it were a
little-known fact about him!) is one of its stronger features. The quality of
this relationship was strained at best, at times intensely acrimonious, and
occasionally litigious.  This is a matter of ample documentary record, much of
it detailed in Ward's 1928 biography of Oxford.  Oxford certainly had no reason
to feel well-disposed towards Burgley: essentially, Burgley had been robbing
him blind since he was a boy.  (On succeeding to his title at the age of ten
Oxford had become a Royal Ward, which placed his estate under the direct and
largely unfettered control of Lord Burghley, who did not scruple to enrich his
family at his young ward's expense).  Clearly this particular father and son-in
law relationship was not of a kind to inhibit satiric thrusts from a young
playwright son-in-law with a justified grudge and an older title.
 
3. What is it with people who think all conspiracy theories are 'inherently
improbable'?  Don't they think conspiracies happen?  This is naivete of no mean
order.   In any case, I doubt if 'conspiracy' or 'cover-up' are appropriate
terms for the Oxford/Shakespeare situation.  I imagine it was more in the
nature of an 'open secret'.  Things that go unmentioned by one generation are
often forgotten by the next; it's the bane of social historians.
 
4. Ellis's choice of an excerpt on which to exercise his literary taste is not
exactly innocent.  The verse is in 'Poulter's Measure', a fashionable meter in
the early 1570s, when the poem was written.  Lines of twelve and fourteen
syllables in English sound a bit silly to the modern ear; I'm not sure why that
is - but I challenge anyone to compose them without the odd 'filler'.  What is
certain is that the vigorous and varied experimentation with new verse forms,
new metres, new words and new tropes that was going on in the 1570s and 1580s
(when the 'Petrarchan' conventions were still something of a novelty) is what
made the poetic achievements of the 1590s possible.   To believe that the
greatest achiever of them all was not himself involved in these formative
processes seems to me to deny much of what we know about how literary
traditions work, and of how individual poets develop.
 
What, I wonder, did Ellis think Shakespeare's juvenilia *would* look like?
'Venus and Adonis' hardly seems like 'prentice work to me.  How about this,
also by the Earl of Oxford, written when he was in his late teens or early
twenties?
 
        *Love Thy Choice*
 
Who taught thee first to sigh, alas, my heart?
Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of plaint?
Who filled your eyes with tears of bitter smart?
Who gave thee griefe and made thy joys to faint?
Who first did paint with colours pale thy face?
Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest?
Above the rest in court who gave thee grace?
Who made thee strive in honour to be best?
In constant truth to bide so firm and sure,
To scorn the world regarding but thy friends?
With patient mind each passion to endure,
In one desire to settle to the end?
Love then thy choice wherein such choice thou bind,
As nought but death shall ever change thy mind.
 
Call me a philistine, but I don't have any trouble believing that a twenty-year
old 'Shake-speare' could have written that in the 1570s.  But then I don't have
any trouble with Poulter's Measure either.  Unlike those hard-headed realists
of the Stratford School, however, I do have some trouble believing that
Shakespeare didn't have a juvenile phase at all, but sprang fully-formed from
the forehead of John Shakspere.
 
Patrick Buckridge.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 May 1994 20:26:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        The Works of Steven Urkowitz
 
I see that Steve Urkowitz claims to be the author of the works that have been
(erroneously) attributed to W. W. Greg. Now, it seems obvious that Steve
Urkowitz cannot have written all of the Greg oeuvre plus all of the works
attributed to Steve Urkowitz. Ergo, I would like to stake my claim to the name
and works of Steve Urkowitz. Scholars four hundred years in the future should
take note. Bill Godshalk is the real Steve Urkowitz. And my psychiatrist backs
me 100% in this claim. And thus I sign myself,
 
The real Steve Urkowitz: Bill Godshalk
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 May 1994 20:58:50 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Martin Green's recent book
 
Martin Green tantalizes us with a reference to his recent book. I just looked
it up and I believe the title is: WRIOTHESLEY'S ROSES IN SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS,
POEMS, AND PLAYS. Am I right?
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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