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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: December ::
Authorship
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0996.  Friday, 9 December 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Alice Kroman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 8 Dec 1994 16:11:34 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0994 Authorship
 
(2)     From:   James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
        Date:   Thursday, 08 Dec 1994 17:03:29 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0994  Authorship
 
(3)     From:   Richard J Kennedy <
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        Date:   Thursday, 8 Dec 1994 17:40:15 -0800
        Subj:   authorship
 
(4)     From:   Dom Saliani <
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        Date:   Thursday, 08 Dec 1994 22:23:16 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   Authorship
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alice Kroman <
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Date:           Thursday, 8 Dec 1994 16:11:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0994 Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0994 Authorship
 
In regards to the recent authorship debate that has been flooding my mailbox
with messages I stopped reading long ago, I give you my simple little
undergraduate student response to the debate:  Who cares?  We are a society
that has been granted with the best writing in the English language and instead
of treasuring it, enjoying it to it's fullest, allowing ourselves to be sucked
into believeing that there are people in this world who have remarkable talent,
we sit and bicker over who wrote it?  Would a rose by any other name smell as
sweet?  As a friend of mine once said "Don't talk about it, just do it."  (I
hope this friend will come forward on his own)  Pardon my lack of degrees and
such, but sometimes it takes such a fool as I to point out the obvious.  If
William Shakespeare didn't write all of these remarkable works would you stop
reading them?  Would you stop studying them?  I should hope not.  So, why argue
about it at all?  As my grandmother would say, "Don't look a gift horse in the
mouth." or a gifted writer...
 
Sincerely,
 
Alice M. Kroman

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Senior undergraduate student in English Literature and Theatre
George Mason Univeristy
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
Date:           Thursday, 08 Dec 1994 17:03:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0994  Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0994  Authorship
 
Maybe it's just the perverse state of my mind, but I've begun to wonder at [be
amazed at] the apparent correlation between the subject heading "Authorship"
and the length of the text that follows:  it is invariably quite long.  Is it
their own counter-authorship that these writers feel is at stake here?
 
Grumble, grumble.  [or, alternatively, Bah!  Humbug!]
 
Jim Schaefer
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard J Kennedy <
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Date:           Thursday, 8 Dec 1994 17:40:15 -0800
Subject:        authorship
 
It certainly *should* be "against the better judgment" of David Kathman to
start an argument with Sidney Lee about the obscurity of that passage in *The
Return from Parnassus".
 
As to the death of the man from Stratford in 1616. It was some 7 years later
that the monument was put up in Holy Trinity church. As to the William Basse
poem, it first turns up in 1620, 4 years after the man from Stratford dies, and
it is all alone.
 
On the other hand, when Ben Jonson died in 1637, he was buried in Westminster,
and within a year was published *Jonsonus Virbius*, a collection of some 40
poems of praise and sorrow, contributed by the most distinguished poets of the
time.
 
I believe such facts *are* of interest to the layman, although Kathman doesn't.
Perhaps he truly doesn't understand the question.  This all goes to the
conspiracy of silence surrounding the Stratford man. Since I can't draw him a
picture, let me try another way to coax Kathman to the understanding of a very
simple thing.
 
            "Stratford man -- big fella poet -- he die. No other
             fella poet makem words, say goodbye, sorry Big Fella."
 
Catch'em question, Kathman?
 
Kennedy
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dom Saliani <
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Date:           Thursday, 08 Dec 1994 22:23:16 -0700 (MST)
Subject:        Authorship
 
I have been monitoring the Authorship discussion for several weeks now and
have read a few of the past SHAKSPER logs available on the fileserver. I
promised myself that I would not get involved. Such discussions are frustrating
to say the least. I am not convinced that anyone with a firmly held opinion on
such an issue would ever change his or her mind no matter what "evidence" is
offered.
 
I do not know who wrote the Shakespeare plays and quite frankly I have no
patience with anyone who believes that the canon was created by one person
alone.
 
I am a sceptic by nature. (This probably comes as a reaction to my early
upbringing in a Catholic school run by nuns who did everything they could to
dissuade us from thinking on our own. We had to accept all things on faith or
by authority. When I finally discovered I had a mind, I decided to exercise its
faculties. I accept nothing on faith, I do not trust the truth of most
traditions and I rebel against authority figures and their positions on many
issues.
 
I became a "Shakespeare nut" in 1971 and it did not take me long to find
problems with the attribution of the plays to the man from Stratford. What
really got me going on this was when I approached a highly regarded professor
at the University of Toronto and asked him his opinion on the issue. This
meek, soft-spoken intellectual turned instantly into a snarling Hyde-like
creature. He called me foolish, naive and unlearned. He advised me to accept
the wisdom and scholarship of my betters and to not question the four hundred
year old traditions. He said the wrong thing!
 
To repeat, I do not know who wrote the plays but I am quite certain that there
is an authorship question.
 
I would like to respond to a statement made by David Kathman recently that
there is ample evidence that William Shakespeare wrote the plays. According
to Kathman, this evidence is to be found on legal documents and title pages
that bear Shakespeare's  name.
 
I would like to remind Prof. Kathman that between 1595 and 1611, fourteen
works appeared that were falsely attributed to William Shakespeare. They
were:
     Locrine                            1595
     The Passionate Pilgrim             1599
     Sir John Oldcastle                 1600
     Thomas Lord Cromwell               1600
     Edward III                         1600
     The Birth of Merlin                1600
     Macedorus                          1600
     The Merry Devil of Edmonton        1600
     The London Prodigal                1605
     The Puritan Widow of Watling       1607
     Arden of Feversham                 1608
     A Yorkshire Tragedy                1608
     Arraignment of Paris               1608
     The Troublesome Reign of King John 16|11
 
It does not end here. In 1660 Humphrey Mosely entered into the Stationers'
Register, three plays as being written by William Shakespeare. They were
*Duke Humphrey*, *Iphis and Iantha* and *King Stephen*.
 
What this tells me is that there was something very attractive about the
William Shakespeare name. Stratfordian E.A.J. Honigman says something
very interesting in his *Shakespeare's Impact on His Contemporaries* :
 
     "It is evident that 'Shakespeare' was a favourite nom de plume with the
     dramatic wits of that age." ... "no other writer was honoured by
     surreptitious publications to anything like the same event."
 
It does not take that much imagination (only a little courage) to take
Honigman's statement a little further. It is also obvious that we cannot trust
the information on title pages.
 
As for the canonical plays, it is a matter of public record that only 18 of the
38 appeared in print during his lifetime (whoever he was) and that of the 18,
ten first appeared anonymously. It was not till 1598 that a play (L.L.L.)
appears with Shakespeare's name on it. I am reassured by many that this was
not uncommon and I am willing to accept that.
 
As for Kathman's claim that we have many references to Shakespeare to indicate
that he was a real entity involved in the theatre, I would like to  offer the
conclusions of lawyer Richard Bentley who while serving as the Editor of the
American Bar Association Journal in the '60s was involved in a trial hearing
the case of William Shakespeare.
 
Bentley outlines three main categories of references and allusions that need to
be looked at:
1    the Stratford-upon-Avon documents which identify a William Shakspere
     (Shaksper, Shakspeare, Shakespere, Shaxpere, Shackspere, etc. but
     NEVER Shakespeare) as being from Stratford-upon-Avon.
2.   Printed references to the name William Shakespeare, such as actors'
     lists, title pages, theatre shareholders  and which are not linked to the
     Stratford man.
3.   Allusions to the dramatist-poet and/or his works. These allusions do not
     identify the dramatist/poet as a person and certainly not a person from
     Stratford-upon-Avon.
 
Bentley goes on to say that as a result of assuming "Shakspere" was
"Shakespeare" scholars "have fallen into the easy error of construing any
reference to Shakespeare or to the works as a reference to the Stratford man,
or even as evidence he was the author. This is understandable and natural ...
but it is nonetheless an error."
 
I agree with Bentley that there is a real danger of assuming that any reference
to Shakespeare is a reference to the Stratford man. It ain't that simple.
 
Dom Saliani
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