The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1280 Thursday, 10 December 1998.
From: Stephanie Hughes <
Date: Wednesday, 09 Dec 1998 19:14:42 +0000
Subject: 9.1258 Re: Bloom; Presentism; Pop
Comment: Re: SHK 9.1258 Re: Bloom; Presentism; Pop
>> Dennis Cummings from Haverford, PA: I have a basic question that I
>> would love your help with. What to you is the main fallacy in the
>> Oxonian vs. the Shakespearean argument?
>>HB: There isn't any argument. You could say anything you want to about
>>any author as to who wrote his or her work. The Oxonians are simply
>>crazy; it is a harmless lunacy, but it is a lunacy. There is no more
>>reason for their claim than to say that Queen Elizabeth wrote
>>Shakespeare or anybody else you choose. The plays are still the plays.
>How ironic, that Simon should do us the courtesy of forwarding this
>post, just at the moment that I have submitted a short article to Notes
>and Queries on the verbatim quotation of Elizabeth's personal motto (in
>translation from the Latin, of course) in the now-infamous Sonnet LXXVI
>(the one the Oxonians use, _Tale of a Tub_ishly, to "prove" that
>Shakespeare was really Vere). One might indeed use such "evidence"
>(stronger and clearer than the silly deconstruction of "evere" into E.
>Vere) to prove the Swan a queen!
>To that extent, I agree with Harold Bloom: it would be nice if we could
>put all these lovely mysteries to rest, but if the Shakespeare canon had
>been written by a one-eyed one horned flying purple people eater, it
>wouldn't change the quality of the works contained therein . . . it
>would just make it that much harder to claim him-politically-as "one of
In joining this list I agreed, as I assume the other members of the list
also agreed, to abstain from authorship discussion and for the most part
I ignore the rude, hostile or ignorant things that are said from time to
time with regard to the fact that the Earl of Oxford has a strong claim
to the authorship of the Shakespeare canon.
I have chosen to stay on this list in spite of such slurs, partly
because they are fairly infrequent, and partly because nothing is gained
by arguments carried on by post on complex issues, particularly on this
one, which raises such heat. But the chief reason I let these paper
bullets of the brain pass by without retort is that I joined this list
in order to participate in discussions of Shakespeare carried on by
people who teach him and who are involved in producing his plays, and
there is more than enough room for discussion apart from this particular
facet of Shakespeare studies, and I will continue to stay on board for
this reason as long as I am permitted, and the discourse has any
I wish to point out, however, that posts such as the one above violate
Hardy's rule with regard to authorship discussion as much, or more, than
anything I or other Oxfordians on this list might have to say in
Oxford's defense. I have no objection to the original post, a newspaper
report on an interview with Harold Bloom. I found it interesting, and
Bloom certainly has a right to his opinion. Nor would I object to
serious comments, pro or con, on what he had to say.
I do object to the words "silly" and "purple people eater" (there's a
blast from the past!) and am frankly puzzled by the statement, "it would
just make it that much harder to claim him-politically-as "one of us."
("us" meaning humans as opposed to purple people eaters???)
Although I agree with Bloom about Shakespeare's importance, he is dead
wrong about this argument. This is a very important and complex
argument, and one that deserves serious attention, not ridicule and not
dismissal. Oxfordians are NOT crazy, or at least, no more crazy than
any other group of scholars. If you wish to take that tack you will
have a hard time proving that a great scientist of the mind like Sigmund
Freud or a great theatrical entrepreneur like Charlie Chaplin was crazy,
or that the many thinkers who doubted the authorship of Shakspere of
Stratford were crazy, writers like Emerson, Hawthorne and Whitman, who,
one would think, might have some claim to expertise on what is and what
isn't possible to a great poet.
Please do not indulge your urge to dismiss or ridicule this issue or
those persons on this list who find it interesting and important. I will
continue to abide by Hardy's request, but I will also feel it my duty to
respond fully whenever Oxford's candidacy or those who advocate it are
ridiculed. This "lovely mystery" will only go away when the many
authorship anomalies of the period have been fully and seriously
examined. Until then, please be civil, or if you find it necessary to
take exception to my remarks, please do so, as do others, in a private
post (quite a few of which are positive, by the way).
Thanks for your patience,