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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: November ::
Authorship
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0937.  Sunday, 20 November 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Anna Joell Goodman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Nov 1994 21:06:03 -400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0926  Authorship
 
(2)     From:   David Joseph Kathman <
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        Date:   Saturday, 19 Nov 94 18:16:23 CST
        Subj:   Authorship
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Anna Joell Goodman <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Nov 1994 21:06:03 -400
Subject: 5.0926  Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0926  Authorship
 
In addition to Forse's list of actor/playwrights, we could add Kenneth Branagh,
whose Public Enemy is currently enjoying a New York run Off-Broadway.  What
about Harvey Fierstein's work?  And there are a variety of actors who write,
co-write, or adapt their one-person shows (Stephen Berkoff and Lynn Redgrave
come immediately to mind.)  True?
 
Yours,
Anna Goodman

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Joseph Kathman <
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Date:           Saturday, 19 Nov 94 18:16:23 CST
Subject:        Authorship
 
I appreciate the support from James Forse and Robert Teeter.  Thanks, guys. I
might also add that Ben Jonson was also an actor early in his career.
 
A couple of things on Pat Buckridge's last posting that I didn't get to in my
last reply, but which I thought needed saying.  Pat's reference to my "impulse
to get the whole thing sewn up and finished, even if it involves riding
roughshod over logical and methodological difficulties", bears little
resemblance to what I have said on this list, and even less to what I actually
think.  If I have occasionally been subject to rhetorical flourishes in the
course of this thread (and face it, Pat, you have too), I have always tried to
be moderate in the conclusions I draw.  I have consistently said things like,
"X is not conclusive, but it's pretty good evidence that William Shakespeare of
Stratford wrote the plays," or, "X is consistent in every way with Shakespeare
being the author, but if you have an alternate explanation I'd be glad to see
it."  As for riding roughshod over difficulties, as I see it Oxfordians have
been much more guilty of this than orthodox Stratfordians, with any
difficulties for their theory being dismissed as a result of the Plot to
discredit Oxford's name and hide his authorship of the plays.  One example:
many letters by Oxford survive from the years when the Shakespearean plays were
being written and produced, but in these Oxford makes no reference to
playwriting or theater or anything, and in fact makes himself sound like a
whining fop, complaining about being out of the Queen's favor and obsessively
trying, during most of the 1590s, to get himself put in charge of farming Her
Majesty's tin. (The word "tin", as Irvin Matus points out, appears nowhere in
the plays.) The reason for this, we are told, is that all the letters favorable
to Oxford, or in which he mentioned his playwriting activities, were destroyed
by Lord Burghley and his associates in "Operation Clean Sweep", and they
allowed to survive only those letters which would make Oxford look bad to
posterity.  I will not pass judgement on this scenario, but will note that it,
or something similar, is necessary for the Oxfordian theory.
 
The other thing I wanted to respond to is Pat Buckridge's statement that
Marlowe, "unlike Shakspere [sic], had the higher education usually deemed
requisite for writing highly educated dramas (autodidacts like Jonson always
excepted)."  My reaction to this, after I picked my jaw up off the floor, was,
"WHAT ABOUT AUTODIDACTS LIKE SHAKESPEARE???????????"  I am honestly at a
complete loss to see how Jonson is any different from Shakespeare in this
regard.  If Jonson could teach himself enough to be regarded as the best
classical scholar in England while working as a bricklayer and a soldier in the
Low Countries during the years he would have been in college, why couldn't
Shakespeare teach himself enough to write his plays while working in the
theater during those years?  What on earth is the difference, unless you assume
a priori that Shakespeare must have been an uneducated bumpkin who couldn't
have written the plays?  Where did he get the books, you ask?  Well, he was
certainly friends with Richard Field, the printer; Field was two and a half
years older, their families were neighbors in Stratford, and Shakespeare's
father was executor of Fields' father's will when the latter died in 1592,
indicating that the two families were close.  Field published *Venus and
Adonis* and *The Rape of Lucrece*, generally seen as the only Shakespearean
publications directly supervised by the author during printing, since they are
so free of errors.  He also published a bunch of books which are possible or
probable sources for Shakespeare's plays, including Ovid's *Metamorphoses* and
a series of pamphlets on the French court of Navarre which could have served as
a source for *Loves Labours Lost*.  Couldn't Shakespeare have borrowed these
books from his Stratford friend Field?  I'm not playing games here; I really
don't understand what the difference is between Shakespeare and Jonson.
 
This has turned out to be much longer than I expected, so I'd better sign off.
 
Dave Kathman

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