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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: October ::
Wriothesley Anagrams in the Sonnets?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0506  Wednesday, 14 October 2009

From:       Steve Roth <
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Date:       Wednesday, 7 Oct 2009 13:40:10 -0700
Subject:    Wriothesley Anagrams in the Sonnets?

I would be very interested to hear the opinions of other list members on 
R. H. Winnick's new piece in _Literary Imagination_, on anagrams for 
"Wriothesley" in the sonnets. Oxford has published this article ungated:

http://litimag.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/imp049v1

Winnick makes what strikes me as a very strong case for, and gives many 
examples of, the widespread and quite explicit use and discussion of 
such anagrams by poets in Shakespeare's day (including by S., obviously 
including instances like Twelfth Night's "M.O.A.I."). I don't have the 
breadth of knowledge to evaluate his survey, would love to hear thoughts 
from those who do.

He also acknowledges the slipperiness of such examples -- how easy it is 
to manufacture spurious anagrams, especially given the fast-and-loose 
approach many poets took: fudging with extra, dropped, or repeated 
letters, substituting i for j, f for s, a double U or a U and a V for W, 
and etc. But still, on a first read through his piece, I find it 
reasonably convincing.

This also led me to look at one line from (surprise) Hamlet, an odd 
comment by H. in the mousetrap that I've puzzled over. I notice that the 
"po[e]sie of a ring" yields both "poisoner" and "poison ear" -- if you 
drop a couple of letters.

Profound? Spurious? Curious?

Thoughts?

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