Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: May ::
Authorship
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0472.  Sunday 29, May 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Patricia Palermo <PPALERMO@DREW.BITNET>
        Date:   Saturday, 28 May 1994 11:46:00 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0470  Authorship
 
(2)     From:   Martin Green <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 28 May 94 20:41:39 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0470 Authorship comments 5/27/94
 
(3)     From:   Martin Green <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 28 May 94 20:41:39 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0470 Authorship comments 5/27/94
 
(4)     From:   Tad Davis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Sunday, 29 May 1994 11:27:20 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0470  Authorship
 
(5)     From:   David Joseph Kathman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Sunday, 29 May 94 15:00:47 CDT
        Subj:   Authorship
 
(6)     From:   Pat Buckridge <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 30 May 1994 10:46:49 +1000 (EST)
        Subj:   Authorship
 
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Patricia Palermo <PPALERMO@DREW.BITNET>
Date:           Saturday, 28 May 1994 11:46:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0470  Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0470  Authorship
 
I, for one, am offended by R. Stritmatter's rude and unfounded remarks. Perhaps
he should send his missives to the *Post* himself instead of to the list.  It
is he, and not Hardy Cook, who "scared away" this member of the "curious."  By
the way, "curious" and "uncommitted" do not necessarily go hand in hand.  I am
"committed" to the fact that what he calls the "truth" is instead something
quite the opposite.
 
Ironically, it is Mr. R. S.'s remarks, and no one else's, that have persuaded
me from here on in to scramble for the delete button whenever the "authorship"
tag appears.
 
Pat Palermo
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa Aaron <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 28 May 1994 18:03:00 +0200
Subject: 5.0470 Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0470 Authorship
 
> Meres and Puttenham refer (I believe) to Oxford as a closet dramatist.
 
Can I add to Bill Godschalk's comment that there is a huge difference between
closet drama and drama meant to be performed?  One look at "the Tragedy of
Maryam" and you'll know what I mean. Personally, I find it harder to believe
that an earl could write even competant drama than a practicing actor. . .but
maybe I am hopelessly bourgeois. . .
 
Melissa (Down with Debrett) Aaron
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Green <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 28 May 94 20:41:39 -0400
Subject: 5.0470 Authorship comments 5/27/94
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0470 Authorship comments 5/27/94
 
1. Dear John Cox:
 
I myself am a pious Stratfordian, but I cannot agree that segregating the
authorship controversy sidelines Stratfordians as well as Oxfordians; rather it
makes Stratfordianism the Orthodox line, since such postings as I and other
Stratfordians may submit relating to, say, the source of Shakespeare (the
actor's) knowledge about Greek romances, will be treated as shedding light (or
trying to shed light) on the true author of the plays, whereas submissions by
others about Oxford's or Bacon's knowledge about the Greek romance elements in
the plays will be relegated to the nonsense section. To be sure, I have no
doubt, myself, that it IS nonsense, but no one should be deceived into thinking
that by segregating postings dealing with the authorship issue we are treating
all sides equally; Professor Cook's decision (which, regretfully, I think was
the practical, and therefore correct, decision) establishes Stratfordianism as
the premise of this conference. Perhaps the best thing for those who reject
this premise might be to start SHAKSPER conferences whose premises are
Oxfordian or Baconian, or whatever, or which are devoted expressly to the
authorship question.
 
By the way, Irvin L. Matus has just come out with a book (Continuum: New York)
which considers and attempts to refute, the Oxford claims.
 
2. Dear William Godshalk:
 
Well, in my book, I did treat of one example of a secretary who wrote poems for
his master: this was Henry Cuffe, who wrote poems for the Earl of Essex. There
may be other instances of this, but this is the only one I dealt with.
 
Martin Green
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tad Davis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Sunday, 29 May 1994 11:27:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0470  Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0470  Authorship
 
I wasn't going to have much to say about this either, because it seems so
tiresome. But I have yet to hear the Oxfordians tackle, head-on, the most
damning argument against their case: the small matter of Oxford dying in
1604.
 
A great deal of effort has gone into dating the plays over the last
several hundred years. There are still arguments about details, but there
is a broad consensus over dating: nobody, for example, argues that the
Tempest was an early play or that Two Gentlemen of Verona was a late play.
 
The dating depends to a large extent on several factors: (a) pinning down
topical references in the plays themselves, either to political or
literary events; (b) understanding the broad pattern of theatrical fashion
over the 25-year period of Shakespeare's career; (c) records of printing;
(d) topical references TO the plays in other sources, such as other plays
or in some cases diaries and account books; (e) internal evidence
suggesting a pattern of development in the handling of certain themes or
verse forms; (f) patterns of influence -- though this could be considered
a subset of (a) and (d).
 
For the most part, the evidence from each of these areas points to a
consistent conclusion about the dating (as I said, allowing for some
differences of detail).
 
We are not talking about a small body of work here. The Frontline
documentary on the Oxford controversy said, dishonestly, that there was a
problem with the chronology because Oxford died in 1604 and "one or two
plays may have appeared long after that date."
 
Here's the list, using one conventional dating scheme:
 
1604 - Measure for Measure
1604 - Othello
1604 - Timon of Athens
1605 - King Lear
1605 - Macbeth
1606 - Antony and Cleopatra
1607 - Coriolanus
1608 - Pericles
1609 - Cymbeline
1610 - The Winter's Tale
1611 - The Tempest
1612 - Henry VIII
1613 - The Two Noble Kinsmen
 
This amounts to a full third of the works attributed to Shakespeare either
in whole or in part. In order for the Oxfordian thesis to be true, the
conventional dating of every single one of these plays would have to be
demolished, in detail, from each of the five or six perspectives noted
earlier. This would require not simply reattributing the plays to a
different writer but completely rewriting the accepted theatrical history
of the entire period. Has anyone actually accomplished such a feat?
 
There is, of course, another argument, which as a practicing playwright
myself I find the most persuasive of all: the person who wrote these plays
had extensive, direct, day-to-day experience as a working theater
professional. I admit that this is a purely subjective judgement, but it
is unshakeable. The research of Donald Foster on verbal echoes from play
to play reinforces this subjective impression, and in my opinion presents
another formidable hurdle to the Oxfordians.
 
     Tad Davis
     
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Joseph Kathman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Sunday, 29 May 94 15:00:47 CDT
Subject:        Authorship
 
All right, one more time.  I can understand the annoyance of those who feel
that this is not the proper forum for this whole authorship discussion, and so
I was loath to say anything more on the subject.  But since it seems to be
continuing within the limits Hardy Cook has set up, I might as well chime in
with my latest two cents.  I know none of this is convincing any Oxfordians,
but just for the record:
 
1) The Oxfordians on the list have been insisting that *Hamlet* is Oxford's
autobiographical piece a clef.  To this I have several responses.  First of
all, all the major characters and plot elements of *Hamlet* --- Claudius,
Gertrude, Ophelia, Horatio, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the Ghost, the
brother marrying the widow of the king he just killed, the feigned madness, the
interview with Ophelia, the play within the play, the switching of weapons,
etc. etc. etc. --- can be found in Shakespeare's sources, primarily Saxo
Grammaticus, Belleforest's *Histoires Tragiques*, and Kyd's *Spanish Tragedy*.
Second of all, the supposed similarities between Oxford's life and *Hamlet*
seem to me to be pretty strained, especially when you consider how many similar
"parallels" one can find in *Hamlet* with the life of virtually any other
nobleman of the time, depending on what you focus on.  The Earl of Rutland was
on very bad terms with his brother (Claudius vs. Hamlet Sr.); furthermore, he
had actually been English ambassador to the Court of Elsinore, where he could
have picked up local color about the castle, plus he had had a couple of fellow
students at the University of Padua named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  Voila!
Those who say the Earl of Derby wrote *Hamlet* have at least as elaborate and
plausible a cast of characters:  Mary Queen of Scots is Gertrude, her murdered
husband Lord Darnley was Hamlet Sr., and Helene de Tournon, who died of
heartbreak, is Ophelia.  *Hamlet* has also been claimed as the autobiography of
Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh, Robert Burton, and essentially everyone
who has ever been claimed as the author of Shakespeare's works (with the
possible exception of Queen Elizabeth); in every case, the proponents of a
given candidate have been equally passionate, and equally convinced that their
hero was pouring his heart out in *Hamlet*.  I will refrain from further
comment.
 
2) On Pat Buckridge's "canopy" argument:  I've never quite understood the
fascination this argument has for Oxfordians.  First of all, I should point out
that Oxford is hardly the only person who ever held a canopy for royalty, even
among candidates for the Shakespeare honors:  the Derbyites use exactly the
same argument for their candidate, since he bore the canopy for the Queen in
1591.  That aside, I have to marvel at the literal-mindedness of the
Oxfordians.  For one thing, "canopy" has a perfectly good metaphorical sense,
meaning "sky" or "firmament"; Shakespeare used it as such in *Hamlet* II.ii,
among other places.  Even if you accept it in this context as a reference to a
canopy for royalty, as most modern commentators do, why on earth does it have
to refer to an actual instance when the author bore such a canopy?  As far as I
can see, the poet is asking whether it would make any difference if he did
elaborate things to honor his nobly-born young friend, such as bearing a
canopy, or "lay(ing) great bases for eternity", i.e. for monuments.  What's the
big deal?  As for Pat's claim that the poet here and elsewhere is belittling
the privileges of high rank to which he is entitled, I just don't see it.  The
Fair Youth is of the nobility, sure, and is a patron of poets, including
Shakespeare.  But I don't see the author claiming to be nobility, and neither
do any of the hundreds of commentators without an axe to grind.
 
3) I see that the Oxfordians have all been referring to the actor from
Stratford as "Skakspere" or "Shaksper", in keeping with anti-Stratfordian
dogma.  Well, I'm getting a little sick of this.  His name was "William
Shakespeare", not "Shaksper", as anyone who gives more than a cursory glance to
contemporary records can see.  I went through the list of documents in E.K.
Chambers' *William Shakespeare*, and made a list of all the times William
Shakespeare of Stratford was mentioned in documents during his lifetime; I
limited this to instances where he was either explicitly identified as being
"of Stratford upon Avon", or where the documents in question are from Stratford
or its environs.  His name is mentioned 107 times in such documents, with 17
different spellings (such variation being, of course, perfectly normal for the
time).  By far the most common spelling of the name was "Shakespeare", with 38
instances; second most common was "Shakespere", with 17 occurences.  Together
these two spellings account for about half of the total.  (This is actually
quite consistent under the standards of the day; Christopher Marlowe's name was
almost never spelled "Marlowe" during his lifetime, being usually spelled
"Marlo", "Morley", or "Marlin".)  "Shakspere" occured 4 times in the corpus,
"Shaksper" once, in a letter.  This doesn't even include references to him in
London as an actor, where the name was always spelled "Shakespeare", except for
one time when it was spelled "Shakespere".  No matter how he signed his own
name or what the spelling is on the record of his baptism, this man was
generally known as "William Shakespeare", and anyone who says otherwise is
either deluding himself or being outright misleading.
 
4) As for Roger Stritmatter's rant, I don't quite know what to make of it. No
one is being censored; we're just being set off from the rest of the list so
those who don't care can ignore us if they choose.  All of these arguments I've
been making are in the public domain, and are based on references that anyone
can look up; anyone out there is free to use them any time.  The Oxfordian
"case" lends itself well to sound bites and op-ed pieces, based as it is on a
series of categorical statements that sound reasonable to the modern ear, but
which do not bear up under examination.  Explaining why these statements are
untrue, or why they don't mean what they seem to mean when you look at the
context of Elizabethan England, requires patience and more time than most
people have over their morning coffee. I've seen all the Oxfordian arguments,
and have yet to encounter one that has any significant merit.  I'm sure the
Oxfordians will continue their crusade, and will continue to complain about the
lack of respect they get from orthodox scholars, and will continue to talk
about the "high priests" of the "orthodoxy" or Stratfordianism, and will
continue to ignore the patient counterarguments such as I've just been making.
Enough.  I agree that SHAKSPER deserves better than this; I'm getting out of
this discussion for now.  If anybody out there is on the fence and wonders if
there's anything to the anti-Stratfordian arguments, try to get a hold of R.C.
Churchill's *Shakespeare and his Betters* and read it; it's not perfect, but it
gives a pretty good summary of the Stratfordian counterarguments.  E-mail me
personally if you want, but don't clutter up the list with this stuff.
 
Dave Kathman

 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Buckridge <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 30 May 1994 10:46:49 +1000 (EST)
Subject:        Authorship
 
A quick response to E. L. Epstein on the canopy in Sonnet 125.  What you say
might be so if there were any evidence that 'Shakespeare' intended the sonnets
for publication. But to the contrary, they were published, in a 'back of a
truck' manner, several years after Oxford's death, and we have Meres' testimony
that they circulated privately in the 1590s among his friends.  In other words,
there's every reason to think that the sonnets 'addressed to the Young Man'
really were just that.
 
Patrick Buckridge
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.