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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: May ::
The Genius of Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1030  Tuesday, 31 May 2005

[1]     From:   Peter Farey <
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        Date:   Monday, 30 May 2005 05:27:19 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1024 The Genius of Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Elliott Stone <
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        Date:   Saturday, 28 May 2005 17:33:14 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1024 The Genius of Shakespeare

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Sunday, 29 May 2005 13:24:26 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.1024 The Genius of Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Farey <
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Date:           Monday, 30 May 2005 05:27:19 +0100
Subject: 16.1024 The Genius of Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1024 The Genius of Shakespeare

There are various ways in which names were hidden within a meaningful
text at that time. For example, the words "Sir Francis Walsingham"
appear on his tomb as an acrostic of the first letters of the epitaph,
and the name "Margaret Ratcliffe" is hidden in a similar way in Ben
Jonson's poem to the lady in question. In his "Execration Upon Vulcan",
Jonson also mentions telestichs (using the last letter of each line),
but I know of no use of the progressive acro-stic (first letter of first
line, second letter of second line etc.) or similarly complex methods as
early as this.  The Friedmans (p.95) give an example of a 1499 acrostic
which uses the first letter of each section, however, giving (in Latin)
the message "Brother Francis Collonna passionately loves Polia".

Anagrammatizing names was certainly popular in those days.  'James
Stuart' = 'a just master' is one that comes to mind, and I found a
rather naughty one in the Anthony Bacon papers. Anthony's secretary,
Jaques Petit, was posing as the valet of a Frenchman called M. le Doux
who was working as a tutor at a stately home in Rutland, and le Doux had
been having an affair with a defrocked nun also employed there. In a
letter to Anthony (LPL MS.654 f.69), Petit thinks that she would be
after him too if he gave her half a chance. Her name was IDE DU WAULT,
and (using the W as two Vs) he suspects that she wants DU VI DU VALET
('vit' or 'vi' apparently being an old French word for the male organ)!

Another approach was that of the rebus, of which John Aubrey gives a
pretty dreadful example. It seems his grandmother used to have a rhyme
about Sir Walter Raleigh ('raw'+'lie'): "The enemy to the stomach and
the word of disgrace / Is the name of the gentleman with a bold face".
The pictorial rebus, such as the one created for the name Abel Drugger
in Jonson's "The Alchemist" is in a slightly different category.

Several things can be observed about the text-based examples, though.
First, where the actual letters of the name are used, the spelling is
always one which would have been known (albeit just one of several ways)
at the time. Second, there is a fairly simple key or clue which, if
followed, leads to the solution. Third, the name is in a context which
says something, particularly about the person named. This can be either
in the overt meaning or in the hidden one, but it is there somewhere.
This means that random findings of just 'will', 'sha-c sp-y', 'ever',
'becaaan, 'kit' etc. are only ever going to be just that, random. But
this does NOT mean that a message meeting those conditions might not be
out there somewhere (in fact I believe I know of one), and I think it
would be a pity for people to stop looking just because most of the
suggestions made so far have been far from adequate.

Peter Farey

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http://www2.prestel.co.uk/rey/index.htm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elliott Stone <
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Date:           Saturday, 28 May 2005 17:33:14 -0400
Subject: 16.1024 The Genius of Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1024 The Genius of Shakespeare

People do not have to pursue secret messages in the typography of the
Sonnets. It would be much more helpful and fruitful to look at the plain
language of the dedications to Shakespeare's work.

I believe that Thomas Thorpe wrote the Dedications to Lucrece, Venus and
Adonis, and the Elegy by W.S.  Thorpe certainly had good reasons and
most importantly financial reasons to be ironic and witty.

It might be very instructive to read Professor Foster's Book's argument
entitled "The Case For William Shakespeare"pp80 and change it to read
"The Case For Thomas Thorpe". Certainly the Dedication to The Elegy By
W.S., as well as the truly awful poem itself, were meant to be IRONIC.
It is a SATIRE. The poem was published to be sold for English pence. The
idea that the author (Strachey, Ford and certainly not Shakespeare) paid
for the publication out of his own pocket is not credible. The only
reason for its publication was to make money out of an incredible bit of
news that Thorpe and his friends believed could be exploited. William
Peter after a day of drunken carousing and while riding on horseback was
murdered.  He was stabbed by a short sword through the back of the head
by Edward Drew who later escaped from custody. (I will not vouch for the
suggestion that Drew ran off to Virginia to help found America!)

These dedications are not secret messages. They are just encrusted with
interpretations from people who can not get a joke

Best,
Elliott H. Stone

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Sunday, 29 May 2005 13:24:26 -0400
Subject: 16.1024 The Genius of Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.1024 The Genius of Shakespeare

Basch's cryptograms remind me of the cyphers which Nashe (he of the
beautiful mind) fancied he saw in newspaper headlines.  And Nashe admits
to paranoid schizophrenia.

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