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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: September ::
New Work on Shakespeare
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0666.  Tuesday, 17 September 1996.

From:           Daniel Traister <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Sep 1996 20:00:50 -0400 (EDT)
XSubject:       New Work on Shakespeare

Forwarded from Ha-safran:

> From: DAVID BASCH <
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> Date: Tue, 10 Sep 1996 09:56:28 -0400 (EDT)
> Subject: LOST JEWISH POET
>
>                   RECOVERING A LOST JEWISH POET
>
> This proposal was submitted last year to a conference on Judaic
> studies at Brandeis University. See what you think. The material
> noted appears in the recently published book, SHAKESPEARE'S JUDAICA
> AND DEVICES, now available. This was the sequel to my earlier book,
> THE HIDDEN SHAKESPEARE. Guess what was hidden?
>
>                         A JEWISH SHAKESPEARE?
>                                THE CASE
>
> To those unacquainted with the evidence, few subjects will appear as
> unpromising as a Jewish William Shakespeare.  However, most curiously,
> the finding of strictly Judaic elements in his plays reveals the
> Bard's knowledge of Talmud, Midrash, and Aggadah, literatures all but
> unavailable in the England of his time -- Jews having long been
> expelled.
>
> While skeptics may reject the diagnostic worth of even some Judaica in
> the work of a medieval author who has demonstrated a prodigious
> catholic reach, its presence, easily confirmed, poses a major
> challenge to scholarship.  Why has this content been little accounted
> in earlier study?  Where did Shakespeare gain access to this
> literature?  Does it appear in patterned ways, revelatory of its
> author?  These are among the questions assayed here.
>
> Exhibit A of the evidence presents a sampling of Shakespeare's use of
> talmudic materials.  Some are the easily identified lines, such as
> "What's mine is yours and what is yours is mine," and "Sin will pluck
> on sin," appearing respectively in Measure for Measure and Richard
> III.  While both lines are drawn from the Talmud's Pirke Avoth, their
> simplicity is such to make them suspect.  But, when it is learned that
> the continuation of the talmudic line on "Sin plucks etc," which runs
> to "sechar mitzvah mitzvah," is to be found in Coriolanus in praise
> of Marcius, a man who "rewards his deeds with doing them," it becomes
> evident that the Bard had rendered this talmudic line in full.
> Note here, we are actually given a "drash" ((an interpretation))
> of this phrase and not merely its translation, because one meaning
> of the line is that the mitzvah is its own reward.
>
> And lest it be believed that Shakespeare restricted himself to Pirke
> Avoth, of which there were some Latin translations, we find -- among
> numerous other examples -- one of Shakespeare's characters reciting
> for us the five penalties called for by the Talmud for injuring
> another.  Also to be found in one of his plays, when understood, is
> his version of the traditional Purimshpiel ((play)) in which all is
> "lehephech," opposite.
>
> Concerning direct historic evidence, Exhibit B reveals that
> Shakespeare's father was left a legacy in which his last name was
> given as "Shakere."  The historian who brought this news failed to
> recognize the implication that this name, in Hebrew, has a meaning
> suggesting a crypto-Jew.  Thus, "shakere" appears in the Hebrew of the
> Ninth Commandment where it means "false" -- as surely a Jew who
> witnessed falsely as a Christian must have been.
>
> Have we here more circumstantial evidence ultimately signifying
> nothing?  Once again, the skeptic will find no sanctuary.  For Exhibit
> C clearly demonstrates that Shakespeare knew its meaning and portent
> since he found ways to interject his name as "Shakere" into some of
> his immortal plays in modes revelatory and reminiscent of the practice
> of the authors of medieval Hebrew prayers.
>
> Finally, Exhibit D is Shakespeare's 1596 Coat of Arms, the application
> for which, extant, includes a tell-tale sketch and motto.  Not only
> does this confirm the Bard's attachment to what must be called his
> family name, but reveals him as defining himself as a son of Abraham
> Isaac, and Jacob, and much, much more, to be revealed in my new book,
> among which is the evidence that he did play a part in the writing
> of the Kings James Version of the Bible.
>
> The trail of these Judaic signs, left as clues by the greatest of
> communicators, has awaited plumbing by those who retained possession
> of the Jewish religious culture known to him.
>
>                                 ******
>                                                       AUGUST 1994
>
>                             PRESS RELEASE
>
>                THE HIDDEN SHAKESPEARE: A ROSETTA STONE
>
>                             by DAVID BASCH
>
>                    **** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ****
>
>
>     If Basch's observations in The Hidden Shakespeare are correct, the
> controversy  over  the  authorship  of  Shakespeare's  plays will have
> heated  up  a  notch.   Not only will the favorite candidates for this
> authorship,  like Edward de Vere and Francis Bacon, be eliminated, but
> new  controversy  will  begin  over  the  personal Shakespeare and the
> message of his plays.
>     Basch  presents  striking  evidence, both external and internal to
> Shakespeare's  work,  that  he  was  indeed the William Shakespeare of
> Stratford,  but  a man whose origins are radically different from what
> has  been  supposed.   This  revelation  is  not merely of a parochial
> interest,  because,  as  Basch  shows,  it bears on the meaning of the
> Bard's work.
>     As  things shape up, it remains true that Shakespeare, while being
> an  intensely proud Englishman, was at the same time the prototype for
> the  universal  man  who spoke to  the ages for all mankind.  Yet, the
> foregoing does not change the fact that he was at the same time a Jew,
> forced  to hide his identity in an England in which Jews had long been
> expelled and in which being a Jew was a crime.
>     What is the evidence for this dramatic finding?  On the historical
> side,  an  overlooked  diocesan  record  has been available that tells
> that  Shakespeare's father, John, had another last name.  Basch is the
> first  to  report that the name actually has a meaning in Hebrew which
> has  implications  for  the poet's identity.  But even more persuasive
> than  this  admittedly inconclusive detail is the internal evidence to
> be found in his plays.
>     It  seems  that Shakespeare had provided a Rosetta Stone to enable
> future  generations  to  ferret out the facts now coming to light.  In
> what  is  certain  to  be  a major cultural find, somewhat akin to the
> original  Rosetta Stone that enabled the lost hieroglyphic language of
> ancient  Egypt to be recovered, the immortal poet devised a key to the
> hidden  facts  of his origin.  It is the presentation of this internal
> literary evidence that forms the central core of Basch's book.
>     In  an account that reads like a detective story, Basch peels away
> the  layers  of meaning in the poet's work, getting ever closer to the
> real  man,  what  he  said  and  believed.   Unlike  evidence  that is
> inferential,  unintentionally left by an unwilling subject desiring to
> hide  himself,  Shakespeare  very consciously devised and purposefully
> left  word  of  himself.   To  the world, it offers new insight on the
> meaning  and message of his works -- a message more than ever relevant
> in   a   world  of  diversity  seeking  to  find  unifying  themes  of
> brotherhood.
>     Anticipating reaction to his findings, Basch, quoting Shakespeare,
> poignantly  asks  whether  "love will alter when it alteration finds"?
> It is in his final chapter that he offers a larger perspective on this
> question.   Basch  looks forward to a future in which, through a wider
> understanding,  the  poet's  message,  like  the  message  of Israel's
> prophets, will truly belong to all people.
>     Basch's  central  thesis  is  presented  in Chapter 1 where we are
> introduced  to  the  Bard's scheme of self revelation.  It will surely
> seem  as  ingenious as the poet-genius that crafted it.  The key to it
> is  Jewish  traditional lore, inaccessible to the surrounding cultures
> he  lived  among.  When this lore is brought to the fore, suddenly the
> scheme  becomes transparent and predictable.  For just as the biblical
> Joseph,  unrecognized  by  his  brothers  in Egypt, reveals himself to
> them  by demonstrating familial knowledge, so does Shakespeare emulate
> this feat, leading to a new world of discovery.
>     Later  chapters  (Chapters 2,  3, and  4) in  the book, record the
> process  that  led  to  the  formulations  of  his  main  chapter.  Of
> particular  significance  is  Chapter  2,  titled "Shylock on Appeal."
> This  chapter  alone  will  change  the  reader's understanding of the
> meaning  of  The  Merchant of Venice.  It will  smash forever the idea
> that this play was an anti-Semitic work depicting an ignoble Jew.
>     And  just when the reader could think that, with the conclusion of
> the  revelations  on the personal Shakespeare, Basch had exhausted his
> topic,  in Chapter 5 his subject suddenly broadens.  Here he discusses
> some  of  the  specifically  Jewish sources Shakespeare drew on in his
> work  -- sources scarcely, if ever, touched on by commentators.  Basch
> then  ends  up  with what will surely be an ongoing discussion of what
> Shakespeare,  as a Jew, contributed to Jewish thought itself.  Opening
> this  discussion,  he reveals that Shakespeare gave his own commentary
> on  Job  and Ecclesiastes in a manner that will without doubt surprise
> and astound the reader.
>     Basch's book will be particularly inspiring to budding writers who
> believe they have a unique perspective to offer.  To read in this book
> of Basch's first dawnings of insight and the implications these raised
> proves  that  an individual can  make a difference in subjects thought
> to be only the domain of the specialist.  In Basch's case, he had been
> intrigued  by  an  idea off the beaten path.  Over time, following his
> intuition,  he  found  his subject ever deepening.  In the end, to his
> own  astonishment, he discovered that he had literally gone where none
> had gone before.
>
> ______________________________________________________________________
>
>  The  book includes an index and a summary of The Merchant of Venice
>  for  those  unfamiliar  with  the  play.   For a copy, send a check
>  or money  order  for  $12, checks to David Basch  at
>    Revelatory Press, P.O. Box 370-577, West Hartford CT 06137-0577.
>
>                                 *****
>
>
>                      *****  PRESS RELEASE *****
>                             APRIL 23, 1996
>
>                  SHAKESPEARE'S JUDAICA AND DEVICES
>                            by David Basch
>
>    In  his  new  book,  Shakespeare's Judaica and Devices, David Basch
> continues  the  explorations  of  the  peculiarly Judaic content to be
> found  in  the  works of William Shakespeare and in the "devices," the
> visual  artifacts,  that  have  been associated with him.  This Judaic
> content  goes  beyond  acknowledged  biblical  influences and includes
> Judaic  literatures  barely  known  to the Gentile world.  Basch began
> this  investigations  with  his  1994 book, The Hidden Shakespeare, in
> which  he  documented  both  apparent  and hidden Talmudic and Aggadic
> (Judaic  non-legalistic)  elements  in  the  poet's  work  that reveal
> purposive,  telltale  messages  of  his  Jewish origin and his wish to
> communicate this as a legacy.
>
>     The  pages  of  this  very readable sequel to Basch's earlier book
> positively  pulsate  with  more  revelations  about  the poet himself.
> Presented   are  new  in-depth  studies  of  some  of  the  previously
> investigated works plus an assortment of brief to extensive treatments
> of  additional plays.  Of particular note among these are the analyses
> of two of Shakespeare's major plays, The Tempest and Hamlet.
>
>     In the full-scale treatment of The Tempest -- a play that has been
> considered  one  of  the  poet's  most  mysterious  --  Basch  finds a
> substantial  presence of Judaic elements that serve as the master keys
> to  the  play's  meaning.   These  occur  in  the imagery of the play,
> infusing  its  action  and  shaping  its  message.   Prior  to Basch's
> analysis,  it  could  not be dreamed that The Tempest could constitute
> the poet's interpretation of the Jewish concept of sin and repentance,
> complete with the themes of the Jewish High Holy Days and their scheme
> for  the  restoration  of  man  to  a state of spiritual purity.  Also
> analyzed  is the baffling Epilogue, the last words of the play.  These
> bear  a  plea  of universal significance, spoken through Prospero, the
> main  character  of  the play and what a character he turns out to be!
> According  to  Basch  (and other commentators), Prospero is none other
> than   an   allegorical   representation  of  the  L-rd  G-d  Himself,
> characterized,  not  surprisingly, as a G-d of justice and of abundant
> mercy and compassion.
>
>     In  Basch's  treatment of Hamlet, he greatly amplifies his earlier
> account,  showing  explicitly  the  many telling indications that this
> play  is,  without  doubt, the poet's rendering of the Bible's Book of
> Ecclesiastes.  Added  to the earlier account is the elucidation of the
> Talmudic  controversies  that  are  imbedded in the play and which are
> central  to  its  understanding.   Far from being peripheral features,
> mere   parochial  indulgences,  these  Talmudic  elements  enable  the
> unraveling  of  many  of  the  puzzling  aspects  of this play and are
> testaments  to  the  poet's astounding literary mastery, demonstrating
> his  capacity  to  relate  multiple  levels  of reality describing the
> doubleness  of  existence.  Thus, this play not only fascinates in its
> unfolding  of  complex  characters within a gripping story but also as
> the  poet's interpretation and philosophical commentary on the work of
> the Bible upon which it is patterned.
>
>     Among the many topics dealt with in the book is the compelling new
> evidence that Shakespeare was a participant in the writing of the King
> James  Version  of the Bible.  As Basch shows, it is not without basis
> that some commentators have found in the majestic cadences of the King
> James  Version  signs  of  a  Shakespearean  literary influence.  Also
> treated are the indications of Shakespeare's sometime use of the names
> of his characters for revelatory purposes and the suggestion that some
> of  these  characters  are meant as portraits of real persons close to
> him, some bearing on his Jewish self-revelation.
>
>     Not  least  of  the  valuable  material  in  Basch's  book are the
> explorations  of  the  visual artifacts, the "devices," whose creation
> were certainly brought about by the poet.  In shedding light on these,
> Basch  demonstrates  how  the  poet's  Coat of Arms -- a penned sketch
> deceptive  in its apparent simplicity -- is actually a complex vehicle
> for  revelation of the poet's Jewish origin.  In deciphering it, Basch
> calls  attention  to  the  work  of  the  late  Leslie  Hotson of Yale
> University,  who  first  proposed  that  certain  Elizabethan portrait
> devices  depicted William Shakespeare and the "Friend" of the Sonnets.
> These  had  been  painted by Nicholas Hilliard, the period's master of
> miniatures.   Not  only  is  there  a review of Hotson's evidence, but
> Basch  adds  considerably  to  it  as  he further discloses overlooked
> revelatory  features  in  these  works  pertaining to the poet.  Basch
> shows  that  they  indeed  give  the  world  a  view  of  the handsome
> countenances of a red-haired poet and his elusive Friend.
>
>     It  is  abundantly  clear  that  with  the new dimensions added by
> Basch's books, we have entered a new era in Shakespearean scholarship.
> The  full  impact  of  this will surely take many years to explore and
> will  necessarily  involve  the  subsequent  work of many scholars and
> commentators.  Only  a few years ago scholars lamented the ironic fact
> that  the  poet, a man who had held a mirror up to nature and revealed
> through  his characters the hidden depths of man, would himself remain
> forever  hidden.   Basch's  work  has  now  rendered such observations
> altogether obsolete.
>
> ________________________________________________________________________
>
> Shakespeare's  Judaica  and  Devices is now  available from Revelatory
> Press,  P.O. Box 370-577, West Hartford, CT, 06137-0577, $22 postpaid;
> all  checks  made  out  to  David  Basch.   This  book with The Hidden
> Shakespeare is available for the special price of $32 -- a $44 value.
>
>                               ******
>
>      ===========================================================
>
>
>                SHAKESPEARE'S JUDAICA AND DEVICES
>                         by David Basch
>
>       From the rear bookjacket of the now available publication
>       from Revelatory Press:
>
>
> SHAKESPEARE'S JUDAICA AND DEVICES
>
> David Basch in this sequel to his earlier book, The Hidden Shakespeare,
> continues to illuminate the abundant Talmudic and Aggadic (non-
> legalistic) influences in the poet's work -- Judaica virtually unknown
> in the England of his time.
>
> Now Basch turns his eye to additional works by Shakespeare, including
> The Tempest, a play so dense with unsuspected Judaica that its meaning
> had remained beyond grasp. Revealed is a towering allegorical portrait
> of the G-d of the Hebrew Bible, who, not surprisingly, brims with mercy
> and compassion and makes a plea with world-wide significance.
>
> Also presented is an expanded study of Hamlet, disclosing its many
> parallels to the Book of Ecclesiastes and the Talmudic controversies
> imbedded in its plot that enter deeply into the play's ultimate meaning.
> Scholars who will fail to take account of the many new findings in this
> book will do so at their own academic peril.
>
> OTHER FINDINGS INCLUDE:
>
>        The poet's direct role in the writing of the King James
>        Version of the Bible.
>
>        The poet's revelation of himself as a scion of the three
>        Jewish Patriarchs --  a testimony to be read from the record
>        of his design of his Coat of Arms.
>
>        The poet's legacy of portrait devices of both himself and the
>        Friend of the Sonnets, "limned" by the renowned royal court
>        painter Nicholas Hilliard, presenting for the first time their
>        significant, revelatory Judaic content.
>
>
> WHAT THE SCHOLARS SAY:
>
>    I not only read your book [The Hidden Shakespeare] and found it
>    very impressive and convincing but the additional evidence you
>    have been accumulating [now in this book] makes your argument
>    even more persuasive.... Shakespeare [is] ... probably a genius
>    of Jewish descent, a Marrano, intimately familiar with Jewish
>    materials who might have wanted to promote the honor of Jews
>    and Judaism.
>                      -- Rabbi Emanuel Rackman
>                         Chancellor, Bar-Ilan University, Israel
>
>
>    Although Shakespearean scholars will no doubt dispute many of
>    Basch's conclusions, even those who disagree will find his focus
>    on Judaic elements in Shakespeare's work useful, especially since
>    this subject has not elsewhere been dealt with in such abundance
>    nor so thoroughly analyzed.
>
>                     -- Dr. Marc B. Shapiro
>                         Center for Judaic Studies
>                         University of Connecticut
>
>       =====================================================
>       For further information, post directly to David Basch
>       =====================================================
 

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