The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0027 Thursday, 7 January 1999.
From: Syd Kasten <
Date: Thursday, 7 Jan 1999 08:31:26 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Re: Psalm 46
Thanks to Paul Franssen for his relating to my question as to the origin
of the 46th Psalm thing, and for pointing me to Anthony Burgess' use of
>As far as I have been able to establish, the idea seems to have
>originated with Anthony Burgess, in his Shakespeare biography (simply
>entitled Shakespeare) of 1970; see pp. 233-34. It is of course possible
>that Burgess got it from some earlier source, but he does not say so.
>Burgess then used the idea to good effect in his hilarious Shakespeare
>story, "Will and Testament," which is embedded in his novel Enderby's
>Dark Lady (1984).
However, it surely was not a product of Burgess' fertile mind. My memory
seems to connect it with a book I read, probably somewhere between 1944
and 1946, on cyphers, codes and cryptograms, possibly of that name. The
46th Psalm thing was given as an example of encryption. I read the book
at the time of life when I had not yet learned that the name of the
author was at least as important as the title, and before losing the
innocent idea that anything in print is true. I don't remember there
being footnotes or bibliography.
This takes us back a bit over 12.5% of he time elapsed since the
publication of the King James' Version. Is there anyone out there who
can take it back further?