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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: December ::
Authorship
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0976.  Tuesday, 6 December 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Richard J Kennedy <
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        Date:   Sunday, 4 Dec 1994 17:33:49 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0962  Authorship
 
(2)     From:   Charles Boyle <
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        Date:   Monday, 05 Dec 1994 13:39:59 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Authorship
 
(3)     From:   David Joseph Kathman <
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        Date:   Monday, 5 Dec 94 18:44:26 CST
        Subj:   authorship
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard J Kennedy <
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Date:           Sunday, 4 Dec 1994 17:33:49 -0800
Subject: 5.0962  Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0962  Authorship
 
Kathman says in his latest post that the Oxfordians depend their claim on a
conspiracy.  Isn't that okay?  Aren't conspiracies possible?  Let's look at the
Stratfordian conspiracy.
 
This man from Stratford lived in London and wrote two long and popular poems,
plus a double handful of plays which were much admired and attended, and acted
parts in them as well. He was a man of the theater, hung out with the other
actors, poets, and play- wrights, I suppose.  He was also an intimate of the
court and had a great lord as a patron. I suppose he knew hundreds of people,
and was doing theater business a good part of his lifetime and was very
successful at it.  That's the Stratfordian story.
 
Now the Stratfordian conspiracy. No one ever mentions that this man from
Stratford is a writer.  They *all* keep mum about it, total silence is the
game, and hundreds of people involved in this absolute shut down of any
information that would connect the man from Stratford with the writing of the
poems and plays.  It's true.  Not a word leaks out.  Even when he dies the
secret is kept.  Nobody says "boo" when he's alive, and no one says "boo-hoo"
when he dies.  A great hush lies over the man's life if you would seek to find
him out as a playwright.
 
So the Oxfordians have their conspiracy theory, and the Stratfordians have
theirs.  Kathman likes the Stratfordian conspiracy best, and that's fair
enough.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Boyle <
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Date:           Monday, 05 Dec 1994 13:39:59 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Authorship
 
I have been following the authorship thread for a number of months now with
some interest. I was recently struck by Bradley S. Berens comment to the effect
of "What's the point?" It reminded me of someone earlier who found the whole
discussion "tedious." And I thought how true. How tedious it all must seem if
you see no point. Hyphens? Who cares? So I am very sympathetic with those
feelings. And generations of thinking people have been happy enough with
Shakespeare as he has commonly been understood. A great writer of themes but
sort of a mystery on a personal level, you know, "semi- mythical" T.S. Eliot
called him. Kind of a god or at the very least an icon. So even when I acted in
his plays I didn't think much about Shakespeare. Leave that to the experts.
Then about fifteen years ago I read a book that claimed Edward De Vere was the
actual author of the work. I will make this part of the story very brief. I was
convinced by the common sense of the evidence and the argument. In all the
years since in my ongoing absorption in the world of Shakespeare I have never
met a document I didn't like. The Oxford story makes sense of everything that
was mysterious before. Does it include an understandable conspiracy of silence,
suppression, disinformation by the British Government? Yes, it does. But why
should that surprise anyone who takes the author of Hamlet, Macbeth and Richard
the Third seriously? And that question is at the very heart of this
controversy. Either Shakespeare is for real or he isn't.  People have told me
Shakespeare wrote this stuff for money, for entertainment. That he had no
politics, even that "he had no balls." That's how far out of touch people can
get with Shakespeare. It's a shame. He really is the funniest, bravest, most
heart- breaking writer that ever lived. But I don't know if I'd feel that way
if I didn't know who he was.  In my experience it has changed not only my view
of Shakespeare, but my understanding of myself and the challenge of Western
Civilization. That's how good he is at getting you to think. And besides, I
keep getting more and more of his jokes, which has a big effect on the tone and
atmosphere of the productions I direct. I think all we Oxfordians want is for
the question to be legitimized in the schools and universities. I have met
tenured professors of English who confess privately they are agnostic on the
subject but teach Stratford in the classroom and throw cold water on their
students natural interest in the identity and personal feelings of the author.
They fear that to do otherwise might hurt their careers. That is a very sad
situation.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Joseph Kathman <
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Date:           Monday, 5 Dec 94 18:44:26 CST
Subject:        authorship
 
A tip for Richard J. Kennedy: you can attract more flies with honey than you
can with vinegar.
 
Normally, I wouldn't bother responding to Mr. Kennedy's snit, since he
obviously hasn't been reading this thread (at least that's the most charitable
interpretation I can put on his comments), but since I'm in the mood I'll
respond briefly to his assertion that "when he [the Stratford man] was dead for
seven years he is first put up as the writer of the plays, and not a moment
before."  Now, to me, when a man's name appears repeatedly on the title pages
of various works, he is being claimed as the author of those works.  The name
"William Shakespeare" appeared in print under the dedications to *Venus and
Adonis* and *The Rape of Lucrece*, and on the title pages of various works,
plus "Shakespeare" (and sometimes "Shakspeare") was cited in print by Meres and
others as the author of various works.  There was a man named William
Shakespeare, from Stratford, who was an actor in the company which put on these
plays.  (And please don't try to tell me that this man's name was "Shaksper" or
some such thing; the most common spelling of his name by far was "Shakespeare",
and in London records this spelling was used 85 percent of the time --- 45
times out of 53 by my count.)  To me, this is prima facie evidence that this
man was the author of these plays, or at the very least that everybody thought
he was.  If you want something more definite, look at the play *The Return from
Parnassus*, written in 1601-2 and published in 1606. There are two characters
named Kempe and Burbage, who are obviously intended to be William Kempe and
Richard Burbage from the King's Men; at one point Kempe says, "Few of the
university pen plaies well, they smell too much of that writer Ovid, and that
writer Metamorphosis, and talke too much of Properpina and Jupiter.  Why heres
our fellow Shakespeare puts them all down, aye and Ben Jonson too.  O that Ben
Jonson is a pestilent fellow, he brought up Horace giving the Poets a pill, but
our fellow Shakespeare hath given him a purge that made him beray his credit."
A little later Burbage has another character audition for the part of Richard
III by reciting a couple of lines from the play.  This to me looks like clear
evidence that the author Shakespeare: (1) was a fellow of Kempe and Burbage in
the King's Men, (2) did not have a University education, and (3) was a rival of
Ben Jonson.  Or, *at the very least*, this is clear evidence that a lot of
people thought that these things were true in 1601-2.  There are numerous other
instances where the author Shakespeare is spoken of as an actor, as uneducated,
and as a real person, both during the Stratford man's lifetime and afterword.
 
I didn't intend to go on this long, but I just wanted to address the silly
Oxfordian claim that until 1623 nobody associated the actor William Shakespeare
from Stratford with the plays and poems, since it's one of the more egregiously
ridiculous and most easily falsifiable bits of Oxfordian dogma, and I don't
think I've dealt with it before.
 
Dave Kathman

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