Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: Article of Interest
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1225  Friday, 15 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Jun 2000 08:29:27 -0700
        Subj:   SHK 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Jun 2000 10:50:32 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest

[3]     From:   William Sutton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Jun 2000 13:42:57 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest

[4]     From:   Edmund M. Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Jun 2000 21:24:43 +0000
        Subj:   An Article of Interest

[5]     From:   Peter Groves <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jun 2000 10:41:59 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest

[6]     From:   David Kathman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jun 2000 00:33:58 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 14 Jun 2000 08:29:27 -0700
Subject: Re: Article of Interest
Comment:        SHK 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest

Isn't it for this sort of inanity that authorship is not made central on
SHAKSPER?  Dom Saliani claims some fairly well-known people did not
believe William Shakespeare wrote the plays published under his name,

> Sir John Gielgud
> Leslie Howard
> Sir Derek Jacobi
> Mark Rylance - artistic director of the New Globe Theatre
> Orson Welles
> Michael York

> While we are at it, perhaps we should also pity
> Justice Harry A. Blackmun
> Justice John Paul Stevens

What, no Sigmund Freud?

May I point out to Mr. Saliani that any basic critical thinking textbook
will make short work of his argument?  It is called appeal to false
authority.  The names given are not Shakespeareans or Renaissance
historians.  Uninformed and half-informed opinions carry no weight.

I shall be happy to recommend a range of basic critical thinking books
to Mr. Saliani if he contacts me off list.  I hate to see anyone make
such elementary mistakes.

Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 14 Jun 2000 10:50:32 -0700
Subject: 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest

The rational encountering the irrational always provides a great deal of
entertainment for the latter group and frustration for the former. The
latter, and I'm not here talking about serious mental cases, but cranks,
fanatics and conspiracy theorists, have "figured it all out." In
politics, you find people falling under the spell of some clever talker
or writer and deciding that liberals, the IMF, Jews, the CIA, the NRA,
the PLO or some other group, have caused all our problems. Having the
seen the light and figured out the source of all evil in the world, they
then become impossible to talk to rationally. Everything is explained by
their theory, and anything that doesn't fit is ignored, explained away
or flatly denied as a lie concocted by the enemy. They are what Eric
Hoffer referred to years ago as True Believers, and the last century
certainly seems to have been their pinnacle of success.

A related kind of crank, and less threatening, is the non-political
type.  These people follow a distinct pattern. They have discovered a
great secret that Powerful Others are trying to keep from being
generally known. The evidence is conclusive, and yet is suppressed by
people with a vested interested in keeping the Truth hidden in order to
prevent the public from asking embarrassing questions and perhaps coming
to understand how foolish they really are.

They are simply not rational on the subject. No matter how many times
their phony evidence is reviewed and demolished, they always cling to
their theory. No kind of evidence will shake them. But they console
themselves with the support of their fellow True Believers -- for "we
few" know the truth and will cling to it in the face all the combined
efforts of all the Shakespeare scholars in the world.

If the anti-Stratfordians were capable of rational thought on the
subject, they would come to grips with three major facts:

1. The simplest answer is the best. You assume that Shakespeare (Actor)
= Shakespeare (Playwright) unless there is some pressing evidentiary
need to find another candidate. Of course they think it does exist
because they think they have found evidence. Unfortunately, their
evidence is invariably phony rather than real.

2. Real evidence would consist of such things as contemporary
questioning of Shakespeare's authorship, contemporary attributions of
the plays or poems to someone else ("Frank: Just caught your latest at
the Globe -- a smash. Too bad that you have to front it through that
actor Johnny."), and evidence that the alternative candidate was capable
of writing successful poems and plays. In this last case, only Marlowe
presents a real possibility.

(We note that the real evidence confirms the opposite. All contemporary
references associate Shakespeare (A) with Shakespeare (P), and Greene's
remarks, though early, are nearly conclusive -- that is, to a rational
review they are. If you are nutty on the subject then you ignore Greene
or explain him away.)

3. There is no modern conspiracy to protect Shakespeare (A) and never
has been. No one ever gets together and decides that we have to save
Shakespeare (A) by rigging the evidence and destroying those who
disagree with it. On the contrary, everyone who knows English literary
scholarship realizes that there are plenty of tenured professors with
radically anti-establishment personality characteristics (mavericks),
who would LOVE to find real evidence of something that would blow apart
some Accepted Dogma. But they won't deal with phony, concocted evidence.

Ultimately, you cannot persuade an irrational person that they are
acting irrationally -- for reasons that are self-explanatory within the
statement. We are all, I suspect, irrational on some subjects. I am
myself not fully to be trusted on several subjects, including not only
serious moral/political questions but less important matters like the
Princes in the Tower and Lakers basketball. The problem occurs, I think,
when people become fanatical about these matters -- they not only hold
irrational opinions based on emotional commitment, but wish to impose
those opinions and various consequences of them on others. The
anti-Stratfordians are (understandably) very defensive about their
treatment by English academics.  They want, rather like the
Creationists, to be taken seriously. They want their view at least to be
regarded as a viable alternative, a debatable position. When it is not,
their defensiveness increases and they imagine a conspiracy to Maintain
the Status Quo. But that defensiveness merely increases their emotional
commitment to their position, and, unfortunately, to their sense of
injur'd merit, wronged innocence, and heroic defiance -- a bit like that
dramatic fellow in Paradise Lost that Shelley admired so.

don bloom

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Sutton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 14 Jun 2000 13:42:57 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest

Dear Carol,

You are of course correct, there is no test DNA unless our friend from
Basel is right.

My romantic curiosity took over my rationality.

Honk, honk,

William S.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund M. Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 14 Jun 2000 21:24:43 +0000
Subject:        An Article of Interest

Balz Engler's intelligent post rightly points out that the real "meta"
issue at the heart of the "authorship question" is the history of
"Shakespeare's reception/appropriation." Surely important differences of
opinion about class and about nature/nurture are involved, together with
the whole notion of "genius."

I'd like to suggest that the resurgence of the authorship question "now,
now, even now" is part of a larger contemporary Shakespeare phenomenon
that Sophie Masson recently alluded to in a recent post.  In many ways,
American culture (European too?) is obsessed with Shakespeare.  In
America, Fortune 500 CEOs can now attend a management program based on
Shakespeare during which they learn "how to make command decisions."  We
all know about the spate of Shakespeare films since 1989 (even a
musical!), the emphasis that Star Trek films place on Shakespeare,
Shakespeare as a character in comic books, etc., etc.

About a year ago, I suggested over this list that what is really
happening is that the works of Shakespeare are becoming a kind of
secular bible for all of us in "this new spring of time" since the fall
of the former Soviet Union.  If so, the bard, this "universal genius,"
is poised to "light the way" as we confront "the end of history" --
capitalism triumphant!

If this thesis holds any value, we shall soon see the culture (and
perhaps even parts of the academic culture) begin to interpret
Shakespeare's life and work as prophetic meditations on emergent
capitalism, full of pithy maxims that help us adjust to global
capitalism and its local discontents.

If so, the authorship question will be very important to the culture at
large. Do we want to be guided by a mere commoner whose father was a
glover?  Or do we want a member of the aristocracy to be Shakespeare?
It could go either way.

Obviously this is all supposition, and could be all wrong. But something
important is happening to Shakespeare, and, as Balz rightly points out,
we should start to pay attention to it.

--Ed Taft

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Groves <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 15 Jun 2000 10:41:59 +1000
Subject: 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest

>While we are at it, perhaps we should also pity
>Justice Harry A. Blackmun
>Justice John Paul Stevens

>These are chief justices who have since their sitting on the Authorship
>trial in 1988, changed their verdicts and would now vote for Oxford as
>the probable author of the canon.

Now this is *really* worrying.  Where do they stand on the Flat Earth
question?

Peter Groves

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 15 Jun 2000 00:33:58 -0600
Subject: 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1216 Re: Article of Interest

Dom Saliani wrote:

>"The "debate" is for entertainment purposes only--like psychic readings
>and wrestling.  Anyone who takes the anti-Stratfordian argument
>seriously after a thorough evaluation of the evidence is to be more
>pitied than condemned."
>
>The problem with authorship threads, and I applaud Hardy for barring
>such discussions on SHAKSPER, is that whenever the issue is raised,
>there are certain individuals who use this as an opportunity to name
>call and to cast ridicule on others who see things differently from
>themselves.

I also applaud Hardy's banning of the authorship issue, though probably
for different reasons than you do.  But I agree that the authorship
question often causes tempers to rise, which is unfortunate.  I have
always tried to maintain a calm demeanor in dealing with
anti-Stratfordians, and I think I've usually succeeded.

>Reedy provides one mild example of this tendency by suggesting that
>"anyone" who is not orthodox in his/her thinking is to be pitied.
>
>I am sorry but I cannot let this comment pass without comment.

Since Hardy has allowed your comment, I hope he will allow my response.

>Is it not odd that some of the most highly respected and admired people
>who toil in the fields of Shakespeare's theatre have chosen to go public
>in regards to their contention that the plays of Shakespeare were
>written by Oxford?

The people you list are all actors, and not scholars of Elizabethan
theater history.  I don't see why we should take their opinions on this
matter any more seriously than yours.  They do not have the specialized
knowledge necessary to judge the matter, and in fact some of them have
demonstrated a highly distorted view of the relevant historical facts,
which they got from proselytizing Oxfordians.  In that sense, they *are*
to be pitied, because they have been hoodwinked into believing things
which aren't true.

Moreover, even in this short list, several of the names are doubtful.

>According to Reedy, we should pity:
>
>Sir John Gielgud
>Leslie Howard

Howard played an Oxfordian in a movie, but I know of no evidence that he
held Oxfordian views in real life.  Can you provide such evidence?  When
this subject came up a while back on the
humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare newsgroup, the Oxfordians there were
unable to supply such evidence.  They just kept pointing to the movie,
as though the characters an actor plays must necessarily hold the same
opinions that the actor himself does.  Some of the more fanatical
Oxfordians have even suggested that Howard's death in a plane crash
during WWII was some sort of "retaliation" for his imagined Oxfordian
views, even though they can't provide evidence for those views.

>Sir Derek Jacobi
>Mark Rylance - artistic director of the New Globe Theatre
>Orson Welles

I have not seen the quotation(s) in which Welles allegedly expresses
Oxfordian sympathies, but I have seen quotations from his autobiography,
written in the 1970s, in which he seems to express no doubt that William
Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the plays.  Can you provide a citation
for Welles' supposed Oxfordian views?

>Michael York
>
>While we are at it, perhaps we should also pity
>Justice Harry A. Blackmun
>Justice John Paul Stevens
>
>These are chief justices who have since their sitting on the Authorship
>trial in 1988, changed their verdicts and would now vote for Oxford as
>the probable author of the canon.

These men are (were, in the case of Blackmun) outstanding Supreme Court
justices whose jurisprudence I admire, but, like the actors listed
above, they are/were not Elizabethan scholars, and have demonstrated
their unfamiliarity with the relevant background and facts.  Justice
Stevens wrote an article on the authorship question for the University
of Pennsylvania Law Review in 1992, "The Shakespeare Canon of Statutory
Construction", which is filled with factual distortions and
inaccuracies.  This is not entirely Justice Stevens' fault, since he has
obviously regurgitated these "facts" from his Oxfordian sources (several
of which he cites), but one is still saddened by his laxity in checking
his facts.  In that sense, Justice Stevens is indeed to be pitied,
because he obviously trusted the accuracy of sources which in no way
deserved that trust.  Refutations of the most common Oxfordian claims,
including those repeated by Justice Stevens, can be found on the
Shakespeare Authorship web page, which Terry Ross and I maintain at
http://www.clark.net/pub/tross/ws/will.html.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled SHAKSPER.

Dave Kathman

 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 

[Editor's Note: The usefulness of this current discussion appears to me
to have come to an end. Rather than continue with this back-and-forth
exchange, I would like to call a halt to the discussion. Anyone
interested can continue either off-list or on the
humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare newsgroup, which was founded by
Oxfordians after I banned authorship discussion from SHAKSPER. -Hardy]
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.