2013

Shakespeare the Grain-Dealing Tax Evader

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0206  Friday, 26 April 2013

 

[1] From:         Peter Holland <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 25, 2013 1:48:24 PM EDT

     Subject:      RE: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

[2] From:         Thomas Davis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 25, 2013 1:52:30 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

[3] From:         Tom Reedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 25, 2013 5:20:03 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

[4] From:         Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 25, 2013 7:28:54 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

[5] From:         Abraham Samuel Shiff <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 25, 2013 8:13:24 PM EDT

     Subject:      THE BURNING OF COAL 

 

[6] From:         Marianne Kimura <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 26, 2013 1:33:44 AM EDT

     Subject:      Coal in Late 1500s in London 

 

[7] From:         Clark J. Holloway <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 26, 2013 2:46:25 AM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

[8] From:         Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 26, 2013 3:00:49 AM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Peter Holland <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 25, 2013 1:48:24 PM EDT

Subject:      RE: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

I really hesitate before getting involved in the increasingly unseemly fight between Michael Egan and Larry Weiss but I cannot let two statements in Michael Egan’s last post pass without comment.

 

Egan writes that ‘Shakespeare must have visited Italy’ but that ‘William Shakespeare of Stratford never made that trip’. He goes on to make a similar comment on the subject of a trip to Scotland he sees as needed to write Macbeth: ‘nor did Shakespeare visit Scotland’. Now, I do not for a moment want to get involved in the question of whether the plays’ author needed to have visited Italy or Scotland. I simply want to ask how on earth Egan is so sure that ‘William Shakespeare of Stratford never made that trip’. Egan and I would agree that we have no surviving evidence that he made that trip but I don’t see how we can know that the lack of surviving evidence absolutely precludes his having made that trip. Please understand: I am not suggesting for a moment that Shakespeare did or did not make such a trip. And I am not suggesting that the author of the plays did or did not need to have visited Italy or Scotland. I just want to cast doubt on Michael Egan’s categorical statements that Shakespeare did not make either trip.

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Thomas Davis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 25, 2013 1:52:30 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

Regarding Shakespeare and Italy: in 1989, I wrote a play set in Elizabethan London that was geographically correct about the location of London Stone and a few of the streets in its vicinity. I had never been to London. I used something called a map and something else called an imagination. I also used a couple of travelogues and John Stow’s book. Shakespeare had an advantage over me, when it comes to local color: he not only had maps and books available, but knew people who had been to Italy.

 

Tad Davis

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Tom Reedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 25, 2013 5:20:03 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

Michael Egan wrote:

 

>By the way, nor did Shakespeare visit Scotland, and yet Macbeth

>is based largely on an obscure Scottish manuscript, a translation 

>of HectorBoece’s Historia Gentis Scotorum (History of the Scottish

>People) by one William Stewart. Written in almost impenetrable

>Scots vernacular, Stewart’s Croniclis of Scotland, contains many 

>of the play’s most famous elements, in­cluding the role and nature

>of Lady Macbeth. In Holinshed, she’s barely mentioned.

>


>The importance of this is that Stewart’s hand-written manuscript 

>went unpublished until the 19th century. Until then it was in the

>private possession of the nobility. How did Shakespeare get to 

>see it, read it and use it?

 

Oh fer chrissakes. Where does Egan get this crap from? His Oxfordian buddies?

 

Boece's Historia was written in Latin and was first printed in Paris in 1527. It was translated into Scots in 1536, and the Latin edition was republished in 1575. An English translation was used by Holinshed. You can read the original Latin and an English translation here: http://www.philological.bham.ac.uk/boece/ Perhaps Professor Egan would be so kind as to point out the plot differences between Boece and Holinshed for us. The parts of Holinshed used by Shakespeare can be read here: http://shakespeare-navigators.com/macbeth/Holinshed/

 

Tom Reedy

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 25, 2013 7:28:54 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

>The Oxfordian is just “the best American academic journal covering the

>authorship question.” according to William Niederkorn, formerly of the 

>New York Times, in his review of Will in the World

>(http://www.brooklynrail.org/2010/04/books/ absolute-will). I’m willing 

>to settle for that.

 

Ah ha! That settles it. Neiderkorn, eh? If you settle for Neiderkorn, you will settle for anything.

 

>Weiss goes on: “This line reminds me of an email you sent me early 

>in the Woodstock process, in which you said that your thesis “is 

>slowly gaining acceptance.”  

 

Nothing Egan says supposedly in reply to my observation contradicts the fact that the paper he referred to in support of the contention in his email to me is a paper he himself wrote, albeit he did not mention the fact, which was published in a journal of which he was editor-in-chief. 

 

>When I submitted my MS to EMP, it was anonymously reviewed 

>before acceptance, nor was I invited to designate a reader. 

 

Wasn’t the reviewer Eric Sams, who provided both the forward and an essay published in your treatise?

 

This current thread began as a discussion of whether Shakespeare was hypocritical in engaging in business, I suppose rather than starving in a garret.  The Woodstock issue came up later.  Let me try to separate the two questions and lay a foundation for any further debate:

 

Egan’s four volume treatise tries to make the point that Shakespeare was the author of the play we call Thomas of Woodstock. He bet Ward Elliott a thousand pounds that he could prove that “by clear and convincing evidence.” He and Elliott selected me to chair a panel of three Shakespeareans, selected from a panel of scholars with a demonstrated ability to identify the earmarks of Shakespeare’s language, to read his treatise and other things he submitted and decide whether he had sustained that burden. We unanimously concluded that he did not, and expressed our reasons in a detailed 44-page opinion (archived on SHAKSPER) which addresses every argument advanced by Egan. More than a year later, Egan submitted an even lengthier response, which we might or might not deem appropriate to respond to. The question mooted in all those submissions is the attribution of the Woodstock play; it has nothing to do with whether Shakespeare was a hypocrite and certainly nothing to do with whether Shakespeare wrote the rest of the Canon, a foundation assumption on which Egan’s attribution rests.

 

The current thread deals with hypocrisy, not attribution, and, in a broader sense, intellectual honesty. I have cited a number of facts which I believe cast doubt on Michael Egan’s scholarly integrity and, therefore, his standing to accuse others of hypocrisy. (Incidentally, none of those facts affected our decision in the Woodstock case; as we said in our opinion [pp.4-5], “We emphasize, however, that we do not consider Egan’s conduct as reflecting on the merits of his position or the sincerity with which he advances it. In fact, we believe that Egan is sincere in his views.”)

 

Finally, Egan concludes with a veiled threat, which I doubt he is foolish or courageous enough to execute:

 

>This scurrilous canard is put out by ignorant and/or ill-intentioned

>individuals who frankly deserve to be sued. I hope Larry Weiss is 

>first in line.

 

Please, please! Write to me privately and I will give you my address so you can serve me. I would like nothing more than for you to subject yourself to jurisdiction in a convenient venue.

 

The rest of Egan’s latest post is about the so-called authorship issue, which I shall leave alone in deference to Hardy’s policy.

 

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Abraham Samuel Shiff <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 25, 2013 8:13:24 PM EDT

Subject:      THE BURNING OF COAL

 

In SHAKSPER, 25 April 2013, item [4], Larry Weiss states “The popularization of coal as a source of energy and heat did not occur until the Industrial Revolution”.

 

Coal mining was an important industry in Elizabethan England.  Deforestation made for a scarcity of timber (tree famine),  and coal was used as an available and affordable substitute fuel.  The term “sea coal” refers to the transport by ships from Newcastle to London and elsewhere. 

 

See the two attachments downloaded from EEBO.

 

“Upon the foggie air . . . ” describes the pollution in vivid imagery. 

 

In 1603, Sir Hugh Plat (1552-1611?) published “A New Cheap and Delicate Fire . . . ” to promote his invention of a processed “coal ball” for cleaner burning.  In marketing this improved fuel to “Noblemen, Gentlemen, and Merchants of this most honorable City [London] and the suburbs thereof ”, Sir Hugh claims that his product will prevent the consequence of coal smoke: “discoloring and defacing of all the stately hangings and other rich furniture of their houses, as also their costly and gorgeous apparel” (leaf B4v). 

 

                

 

Abraham Samuel Shiff

Graduate Student

City University of New York

 

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Marianne Kimura <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 26, 2013 1:33:44 AM EDT

Subject:      Coal in Late 1500s in London

 

Larry Weiss is incorrect about coal smoke not being a problem in Elizabethan London. In “Coal: A Human History”, Barbara Freese writes that “In 1578, it was reported that Elizabeth I was greatly grieved and annoyed with the taste and smoke of sea-coales”. (p 34) In 1603, Hugh Platt published a pamphlet detailing a new method to reduce smoke from coal (by fashioning briquettes out of coal and straw, a technique that failed, by the way). Platt notes that the “coal smoke was damaging the buildings and plants of London, and he does not treat the problem as a particularly new one.” (Freese, 34) Freese also notes that coal became the main fuel for England before 1603, supplanting wood for economic reasons. And this occurred, of course, most intensely in London.

 

In addition, in “Shakespeare and the Popular Tradition in the Theater”, Robert Weimann notes the huge increases in coal shipments to London, (from 11,000 tons in 1580 to 35,000 tons in 1591) in the latter half of the 1500s. Weimann quotes J.U. Nef’s characterization of the period “an early ‘industrial revolution’” (Weimann 164). In his book “The Big Smoke” noted historian of air pollution, Peter Brimblecombe, also supplies extensive documentation on the air pollution caused by coal in the late 1500s (this problem got worse, much worse, later, of course).

 

I know that my idea to see solar energy as a force in Shakespeare’s plays is quite radical. I agree that my scholarship is not conventional: although I have a B.A. from Harvard and an M.A. from the University of Chicago (both in English Literature), I did not come up with my interpretive approach in the States, but rather after I had been living in Japan, where, somehow, the sun is such a cultural force that you cannot miss it. (Recognizing the same force in Shakespeare was a quite a shock for me.) Therefore, to you in the West, my idea may seem truly like something from another world, or at least another culture, which perhaps it is.

 

Any radical scholarly approach may face questions and criticism. But I want to dispel that idea that Shakespeare was somehow cruelly exposing our (humanity’s) weaknesses and flaws. Shakespeare seems to have sensed the suffering that could come about from our inevitable interaction with fossil fuels, and I think he wanted to show that he stood with us, that he sympathized. I think mainly, too, that he was optimistic about the future for people.

 

Cheers,

Marianne Kimura

 

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Clark J. Holloway <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 26, 2013 2:46:25 AM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

Michael Egan wrote:

 

>Finally Clark C. Holloway [sic] "finds it amusing that someone would actually 

>go to Verona to verify the accuracy of a Shakespearean pun." Well, sir, it's 

>called research, and you'll recall that in addition to the sycamore grove west 

>of Verona mentioned in Romeo and Juliet I noted The Duke's Oak in 

>Sabbionetta [sic] (referred to in Midsummer Night's Dream) and the identity 

>of Prospero's island, including the origin of "Caliban" and "Ariel." Laugh at 

>these. I think they are major scholarly discoveries and there are many more 

>such nuggets in Richard Roe's The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing 

>the Bard's Unknown Travels (Harper Perrenial 2011). Together they prove 

>beyond doubt, if I may use the phrase, that Shakespeare must have visited 

>Italy.

 

However, you didn’t note that “The Duke’s Oak” in Sabbioneta isn’t actually an oak tree, it’s a gateway, and that Mr. Roe claimed that it was another name for the Porta della Vittoria (though I can find nothing online to collaborate the claim). 

 

I’d think it more likely that Shakespeare got the duke’s oak in MND from one of his sources for the play, Huon of Bourdeaux. In chapter XXI, Gerames, Huon and his companions meet King Oberon while out riding. Growing hungry, the company:

 

>...alighted under a great Oake, to the entent to search for some fruit to eate. 

>They glad thereof let their horses goe to pasture.

>

>When they were thus alighted, the Dwarfe of Fayry[,] King Oberon came 

>ryding by, and had on a Gowne so rich that it were marvaile to recount the 

>riches and fashion thereof, and it was so garnished with precious stones, 

>that the clearnesse of them shined like the Sonne....

>

>Then King Oberon, who knew well and had seen the fourteene Companions, 

>he set his Horne to his mouth, and blew so melodious a blast, that the 

>fourteene Companions, being under the Tree, had so perfit a joy at their 

>hearts, that they al rose up and began to sing and daunce...

 

This sounds quite similar to the frivolous goings on under the Duke’s Oak in MND to me. Of course, the tree isn’t called the “Duke’s” oak in Huon of Bordeaux, but it does have the advantage of actually being an oak tree, rather than a gate.

 

As to the names Caliban and Ariel, Mr. Roe claims that Caliban is Catalan for “outcast” and “pariah.” Again, I can find no collaborating evidence of this (though I did find a site that gave a Catalan definition of “caliban” as “moon”), but since Catalan is the language of the people of Catalonia, Spain, I’m not sure what relation Mr. Roe believed it would have to a tourist’s travels in Italy anyway. And I believe Shakespeare got the name Ariel from the Bible. He probably had one on his bedside table, so he need hardly be called upon to make a trip to Italy to stumble upon the name. 

 

So far you’ve given us a pun, an Italian gate, a Spanish moon, and a Bible reference for your evidence of Shakespeare’s trip to Italy. I apparently don’t find the evidence as conclusive as you do. And my middle initial is actually “J.”

 

Clark Holloway

 

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 26, 2013 3:00:49 AM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

The list price for Michael Egan’s 3-volume edition of Thomas of Woodstock (or 1 Richard 2 as he calls it) is over $350. For that reason I believe most SHAKSPERians will have no access to it and won’t know that the review that he quotes praising its “2,100 pages of painstaking scholarship” is misleading.

 

Much of the edition is taken up with pointless repetition because Michael Egan chooses not to use the usual scholarly conventions for representing the differences between documentary witnesses.  For example, here’s a typical top-half of one of those 2,100 pages:

 

        ARM Run naught but poison, brother; spill them all.

 

BUL Run[n]e nought but poyson brother, spill them all.

 

COR Run naught but poison, brother. Spill them all.

 

EBE Run naught but poison, brother. Spill them all!

 

HAL Rune nought but poyson brother, spill then all

(then, sic.)

 

KEL Rune nought but poyson, brother: spill them all!

 

NOT Run naught but poison, brother; spill them all.

 

WPF rune nought but poyson brother, spill them all

 

    (Volume 2, page 77)

 

Almost all the differences here are meaningless variation in spellings and the remainder could be neatly conveyed in one short collation note. But Egan goes on like this for over 1,100 pages in this volume alone. This is certainly the taking (and indeed inflicting) of pains, but it’s not scholarship.

 

Gabriel Egan

 

Greenblatt’s Freedom

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0205  Friday, 26 April 2013

 

[Editor's Note: Just a reminder that I will be out of electronic contact next week and will resume mailings Monday, May 6. Keep submissions coming, and I will edit them then. -Hardy]

 

[1] From:         Anthony Burton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 25, 2013 3:29:52 PM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Greenblatt’s Freedom 

 

[2] From:         John Crowley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 26, 2013 8:16:34 AM EDT

     Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Greenblatt's Freedom 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Anthony Burton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 25, 2013 3:29:52 PM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Greenblatt’s Freedom

 

More often than not the matter of interpreting one of Shakespeare’s doubtful phrases boils down to either (a) A’s opinion is as good as B’s, and there isn’t any way to choose which to prefer; and (b) It’s typical of Shakespeare to provide conflicting simultaneous meanings, and that’s part of his brilliance, not to be reduced to a single meaning.

 

In the case of Greenblatt’s reading of Sonnet 148 and Bishop’s dissenting reading, I think Bishop got it right but that Greenblatt isn’t wrong. But neither (as far as I can tell from this thread) turns to Shakespeare for elucidation, which I think can be found in Theseus’s speech in Midsummer Night’s Dream, reporting that lovers madmen and poets are one in the world of imagination, but very different in bringing their experiences to daily life. Out of imagination “The lover, all as frantic,/Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.” That is to say, the lover finds beauty in one whom (that which) conventional judgment based on the sensory perception of physical eyes “censures falsely” as something unattractive. This is just what Bishops interprets 148 to mean, and I would say that as an (a) opinion his is correct.

 

On the other hand, if the eyes of love do correspond with true sight (that is, the sight which goes beyond superficial appearance to recognize one’s true nature and virtue), then “judgment” (permeated with bias, stereotype, false standards of what is admirable) does in fact contradict the report of eyes with “true sight” and Greenblatt is right—although I don’t suppose this is his meaning one must give him the benefit of the doubt in absentia.  And this reading can stand along with Bishops’s without contradiction, a fine example of (b) and co-existing meanings.  

 

Shakespeare makes nearly everyone look good.

 

Tony

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         John Crowley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 26, 2013 8:16:34 AM EDT

Subject:      Re: SHAKSPER: Greenblatt's Freedom

 

Greenblatt/Weiss/Eyes

 

I’m with Larry Weiss. The lines open by saying that love has put eyes in the poet’s head that have no correspondence with true sight—i.e. that see as beautiful what is actually ugly. (“If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head” etc.) Then the opposite is posited: maybe my new eyes DO have correspondence with true sight, and what I see as beautiful IS beautiful, and it’s my judgment that has “fled away” and judges (falsely) as ugly what they see as beautiful. It would be hard to argue the reverse without thinking that the eyes that love puts in my head see the beautiful as ugly, which hardly fits the contemporary metaphysics of love.

 

Greenblatt’s Freedom

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0203  Thursday, 25 April 2013

 

From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 25, 2013 12:55:41 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Greenblatt

 

>In Shakespeare’s Freedom (42) Stephen Greenblatt quotes these 

>lines:

>O me, what eyes hath love put in my head,

>Which have no correspondence with true sight!

>Or if they have, where is my judgement fled,

>That censures falsely what they see aright? (Sonnet 148)

>Greenblatt explains: “To censure falsely is to regard as beautiful 

>what ‘true sight’ knows is ugly, and therefore to contradict the 

>testimony of the eyes”.

>I think Greenblatt is mistaken. The last two lines could be 

>paraphrased: Or if the eyes of love have correspondence with 

>true sight, my judgment falsely censures my love for being 

>unbeautiful. The oddness of saying that “censure falsely” 

>means “regard as beautiful” might warn us off this interpretation, 

>though perhaps an attraction to the esoteric can override the 

>warning.

>I wonder if others agree. 

 

I agree that David Bishop’s alternative reading is possible, but I don’t agree that it is the most likely meaning. Greenblatt’s gloss is not original with him, and it seems to be the one suggested by the sonnet’s language. Stephen Booth and Katherine Duncan-Jones, for example, provide similar glosses.  

 

Shakespeare the Grain-Dealing Tax Evader

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0204  Thursday, 25 April 2013

 

[1] From:        Michael Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 24, 2013 10:06:02 PM EDT

     Subject:     Shakespeare Businessman 

 

[2] From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 25, 2013 12:55:41 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

[3] From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 25, 2013 1:06:29 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

[4] From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 25, 2013 12:42:59 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Michael Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 24, 2013 10:06:02 PM EDT

Subject:     Shakespeare Businessman

 

Larry Weiss and Peter Grove challenge my claim that The Oxfordian has been described as “the leading academic journal of its type in the world.” They are right, and I apologize. Actually The Oxfordian is just “the best American academic journal covering the authorship question.” according to William Niederkorn, formerly of the New York Times, in his review of Will in the World. (http://www.brooklynrail.org/2010/04/books/ absolute-will). I’m willing to settle for that.

 

Weiss goes on: “This line reminds me of an email you sent me early in the Woodstock process, in which you said that your thesis “is slowly gaining acceptance.”  

 

It is. Here’s a recent comment in Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays (New English Review Press, 2013) pp 196-7, by David P Gontar. He compares Richard II, Part One with King John, concluding that Woodstock rather than Faulconbridge is the first true manifestation of Harold Bloom’s “invention of the human” Gontar notes:

 

“The definitive work on the Woodstock play is Michael Egan’s four-volume The Tragedy of Richard II, Part One: A Newly Authenticated Play by William Shakespeare published with extensive commentary by The Edwin Mellen Press (2006). A fine summary and review of Egan’s masterpiece is “Richard II.1 Another Early History Play is Added to the Shakespeare Canon,” by Ramon Jimėnez [http://www.shakespearefellowship.org/ Reviews/jimenez.woodstock. htm].

 

“Egan’s avowed purpose is the demonstration in over 2,100 pages of painstaking scholarship that the anonymous Woodstock is the real McCoy, one of the very first plays by the author Hamlet and Macbeth.

 

“‘The core of Egan’s case for Shakespeare’s authorship,’ writes Jimenez, ‘is the swarm of images, thoughts, words, phrases, and the rhetorical and dramatic devices found in Thomas of Woodstock, of which there is some sort of echo, parallel or strong resemblance of Shakespeare’s plays. There is no Shakespeare play without them and Egan cites more than 1600.’ Jimenez then adds this Parthian shot: ‘It is hard to imagine that there will be much more to be written about Thomas of Woodstock than what Egan has included in these 2100 pages.’”

 

Prof. Gontar and I have never met nor corresponded. Weiss sneeringly continues, about The Oxfordian:

 

“Is it peer-reviewed the same way your publisher, Edwin Mellon Press, is peer-reviewed—i.e., the author designates the reviewer?”

 

First, it’s The Edwin Mellen Press, and second neither this distinguished publishing house (check its list, http://mellenpress.com/) nor The Oxfordian asks its authors to designate their own reviewers. That’s stupid and ridiculous, which I suppose is the point of this baseless allegation. When I submitted my MS to EMP, it was anonymously reviewed before acceptance, nor was I invited to designate a reader. 

 

Subsequently, as a peer reviewer for EMP, I have recommended or not recommended perhaps 25 MSS for publication. In no case did I know the authors or they me. This scurrilous canard is put out by ignorant and/or ill-intentioned individuals who frankly deserve to be sued. I hope Larry Weiss is first in line.

 

Finally Clark C. Holloway “finds it amusing that someone would actually go to Verona to verify the accuracy of a Shakespearean pun.” Well, sir, it’s called research, and you’ll recall that in addition to the sycamore grove west of Verona mentioned in Romeo and Juliet I noted The Duke’s Oak in Sabbionetta (referred to in Midsummer Night’s Dream) and the identity of Prospero’s island, including the origin of “Caliban” and “Ariel.” Laugh at these. I think they are major scholarly discoveries and there are many more such nuggets in Richard Roe’s The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard’s Unknown Travels (Harper Perrenial 2011). Together they prove beyond doubt, if I may use the phrase, that Shakespeare must have visited Italy. 

 

The difficulty is this: William Shakespeare of Stratford never made that trip. So how did he get all his Italian details right? Please read the book before claiming he was wrong to describe Milan as a port, or that he provided Old Gobbo with a horse in Venice, etc. 

 

By the way, nor did Shakespeare visit Scotland, and yet Macbeth is based largely on an obscure Scottish manuscript, a translation of Hector Boece’s Historia Gentis Scotorum (History of the Scottish People) by one William Stewart. Written in almost impenetrable Scots vernacular, Stewart’s Croniclis of Scotland, contains many of the play’s most famous elements, in­cluding the role and nature of Lady Macbeth. In Holinshed, she’s barely mentioned.

 

The importance of this is that Stewart’s hand-written manuscript went unpublished until the 19th century. Until then it was in the private possession of the nobil­ity. How did Shakespeare get to see it, read it and use it?

 

Michael Egan

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 25, 2013 12:55:41 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

>it is nice to learn from Larry that Shakespeare was doing 

>the citizenry a favor by withholding his Lucky Charms.

 

I suppose the inevitable time has come when it is needful to explain why time arbitrage of commodities (i.e., “hoarding”) is a socially useful practice.  Don’t worry, I will keep my homily short and use words easy enough for most lit professors.

 

No one has ever made a sou by refusing to sell scarce commodities to people who needed them. What the commodities speculator (“hoarder”) tries to do is to purchase a commodity (say, corn) when it is plentiful, store it at his own cost and risk until it ceases to be abundant and then sell it at a higher price than he paid. Consider the opposite strategy, which the “Shakespeare as hypocrite” advocates seem to think was his method: Under that scheme, Shakespeare (no doubt wearing a top hat and black cape and emitting a sinister laugh from time to time) would buy all the corn he can lay his hands on during a famine, then incur the cost of storing it in a dry barn, providing security to protect it from thieves and hiring a large family of cats to kill the vermin who would also like to feast on it. Then, when the famine is over and the corn no longer needed as much, he would sell it to people who by then are enjoying a grain glut. What do you think happens to the market price of the corn from the time WS buys it during the scarcity to the time he sells it when it is abundant? That’s right, following the laws of supply and demand, the price drops precipitously, and Shakespeare cannot realize any but a small fraction of what he paid (not counting what he laid out to store the stuff until it lost its value). This buy high, sell low strategy is not calculated to make anyone rich, unless, of course, it is done in high volume.

 

On the other hand, buying corn when it is plentiful and the price is low, and then saving it until there is a greater need for it, is calculated to make the trader wealthier (unless he doesn’t guess right about the future availability of the corn, or his profits are eaten up by the storage costs, or the grain is stolen or destroyed in a natural disaster, or someone else takes his custom, or something else happens which dashes his hopes of gain). If the project works according to plan, the speculator will make a return on his investment sufficient to compensate him for the risks he ran, and, as an incidental benefit to his customers, he makes scarce corn available at a time of shortage, thus mitigating what might otherwise be a famine. Where is the evil in that?  Is the grasshopper more admirable than the ant?

 

 [3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 25, 2013 1:06:29 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

>if M. Egan is playing both ends against the middle, well, 

>wouldn’t Shakespeare?

 

I don’t know.  I rather doubt it, but I don’t know. No one does. We do know that Shakespeare was capable of creating characters who took positions opposed to each others’, as shown by the few speeches I quoted in my last post. Any one of us could have quoted hundreds to illustrate that point.  But that doesn’t say a word about what Shakespeare’s own views (if any) were.

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 25, 2013 12:42:59 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Businessman

 

>After all, it address disparate elements in “Romeo and Juliet” 

>and unifies them. Does he have a better way to explain the 

>odd features of the play? Was Shakespeare not capable of 

>intricate and devious allegory? Was London not polluted by 

>coal smoke?

 

What odd features? In any case, there are many ways of explaining the features of R&J (odd or otherwise) without resorting to the notion that Shakespeare was inveighing against a heavy Elizabethan carbon footprint. 

 

But, to answer Ms. Kimura’s last question, which perhaps moots the rest of them: No, London was not polluted by smoke in the 1590s, certainly not coal smoke (I say nothing about tobacco). The popularization of coal as a source of energy and heat did not occur until the Industrial Revolution; the “Great Smoke” was in 1952. Wood was burned as the principal source of heat in Elizabethan London, which explains why the price of wood in London rose 266% from 1500 to 1610 (see www.forgreenheat.org/resources/history.html).  

 

That is not to say that Ms. Kimura has not hit upon an intriguing scenario.  Perhaps Shakespeare had invested in Solyndra or some other solar panel manufacturer and was trying to boost sales in case his grain speculations went south.

 

Shakespeare the Grain-Dealing Tax Evader

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0202  Wednesday, 24 April 2013

 

[1] From:        Steve Urkowitz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 24, 2013 3:05:36 PM EDT

     Subject:     Whistling from the Margins: And Other Adventures in Being Right AND Wrong 

 

[2] From:        Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 23, 2013 6:53:52 PM EDT

     Subject:     Grain Dealer 

 

[3] From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 23, 2013 8:02:43 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: **JUNK** Shakespeare as grain hoarder 

 

[4] From:        Marianne Kimura <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 23, 2013 8:29:21 PM EDT

     Subject:     “Horrible” 

 

[5] From:        Peter Groves <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 23, 2013 11:51:08 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Shakespeare Businessman 

 

[6] From:        Clark J. Holloway <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         April 24, 2013 2:47:12 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Shakespeare the Grain-Dealing Tax Evader 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Steve Urkowitz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 24, 2013 3:05:36 PM EDT

Subject:     Whistling from the Margins: And Other Adventures in Being Right AND Wrong

 

Whistling from the margins: and other adventures in being right AND wrong

 

The schoolyard is erupting again with some of those wild punches that make those of us really interested in playing stickball figure we might want to go hide for a while, sit down with a good book, watch some dumb television. In the last few months I’ve been somewhat cheered (and getting in much more playing time) because of a short review article in one of my favorite literary journals, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (January 2013).  Michael Shermer, the publisher of SCEPTIC magazine, has a page-long piece called, “Logic-Tight Compartments: How our modular brains lead us to deny and distort evidence.” Hmmmmm.  Seems to be a lot of that being noticed on every side of several of our recent exchanges.  

 

Shermer cites the work of an evolutionary psychologist (I may start calling myself an evolutionary textual scholar), Robert Kurzban in his WHY EVERYONE (ELSE) IS A HYPOCRITE (Princeton 2010) where Kurzban argues that in each of our own heads we hold independent but interacting modules of belief, happily contradicting one another despite our illusory sense of being under control of a single consistent persona.  

 

Shermer cites a 2010 article, “When in Doubt, Shout!” in PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE, by David Gal and Derek Rucker who found that strenuous advocates for particular positions were more likely to have had their believes challenged in the past by some pretty convincing arguments. (“The louder you shout, the wronger you are?” wherever that is from.)

 

But the most interesting citation came from the journal PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.  What follows is a quote from Shermer’s piece:

 

“In the 2012 paper ‘Misinformation and its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful De-Biasing” Stephan Lewandowsky and his colleagues suggest these strategies: ‘Consider what gaps in people’s mental events models are created by debunking and fill them using an alternative explanation. . . . To avoid making people more familiar with misinformation . . . emphasize the facts you want to communicate rather than the myth. Provide an explicit warning before mentioning a myth, to ensure that people are cognitively on guard and less likely to be influenced by the misinformation. Consider whether your content may be threatening to the worldview and values of your audience.  If so, you risk a worldview backfire effect.” (Darn!  So THAT’S why Fredson Bowers and Richard Proudfoot got so knicker-snitted when I showed ‘em all that evidence of authorial revision in Shakespeare: WORLDVIEW BACKFIRE EFFECT.  Kind of like a Global Flatulence Explosion and subsequent denials.)      

 

Shermer concludes, “Debunking by itself is not enough. We must replace bad bunk with sound science.”

 

How does that irregular verbal conjugation go? . . . “I am firm. You are stubborn.  He / she / it is pig-headed”? 

 

So maybe Shakespeare was a smarmy capitalist pig, and maybe all my TIAA-CREF retirement fund investments pass anybody’s moral muster, but Shakespeare’s virtue was that along with Chaucer and Genesis and Jane Austen he taught us to look at such things, to feel at one moment what it is like to be swayed and also be dismayed by Menenius, AND to feel from inside the gnawing, yearning hollowness of Coriolanus’s suicidal machismo. (In my part of the Bronx, we fought the Irish and sometimes the Litvacks, not the Volsces.)

 

I was just coaching a chorus performing a ferocious piece called The Holocaust Cantata. One narrator has to “perform” Hitler’s justification for his genocidal actions just before his armies go into Poland. I sketched out for the performer some of the experiences of starvation and demoralization that had been seen in Germany after the First War. So his ghastly need to eradicate any sources of possible repetition of such humiliation drives him into the nightmare.   

 

Well, gang. Let’s realize that we ain’t in that place now. We’re just a little het up about evidence. Keep on dancin’, keep on lookin’ for love, keep on shoutin’.

 

Ever, 

Steve Headpiggiewitz

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 23, 2013 6:53:52 PM EDT

Subject:     Grain Dealer

 

Far be it from me (an agnostic on agnosticism and blameless) to join a tabu discussion but perhaps it shouldn’t be taboo. If grain hoarding is not a qualified banned argument, those tracing their heretical opinions to other roots have little reason to care whether Shakespeare hoarded grain; nothing could be more irrelevant, even if it is consistent with their views. The topic is then reserved for the orthodox. And what we have in that respect is near unanimous agreement: we know who Shakespeare was; nothing in his personal history can cast doubt on what we know. But hoarding can’t be a “pro” argument, either.

 

Even so, it is nice to learn from Larry that Shakespeare was doing the citizenry a favor by withholding his Lucky Charms. Ben Jonson may have missed that point entirely. Presentism, anyone? And if M. Egan is playing both ends against the middle, well, wouldn’t Shakespeare?

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 23, 2013 8:02:43 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: **JUNK** Shakespeare as grain hoarder

 

>It’s a cartoon, Larry. It’s meant to be a joke. Like, if a thousand 

>monkeys typed randomly forever, would they eventually produce

>Shakespeare?

 

Yes, a troop of monkeys typing randomly forever are as likely to produce the works of Shakespeare as de Vere et al. were. I get it. And I know it is a cartoon, but one with a sting like Thomas Nast’s famous depiction of Boss Tweed as a vulture or Herbert Block’s Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoon of Stalin at the gates of hell. 

 

>The Oxfordians are not my “patrons.” I just edit their annual journal,

 

For free?

 

>My editorial policy for The Oxfordian is “open door,” which means 

>that we welcome anything that meets our editorial criteria and 

>interests. We are proudly a peer-reviewed journal pursuing the 

>highest academic standards.

 

Is it peer-reviewed the same way your publisher, Edwin Mellon Press, is peer-reviewed—i.e., the author designates the reviewer?

 

>The Oxfordian has been described as the leading academic journal 

>of its type in the world.

 

Who described it so? This line reminds me of an email you sent me early in the Woodstock process, in which you said that your thesis “is slowly gaining acceptance” and you referred to an article in the Oxfordian containing what you modestly described as a “devastating rebuttal” of Mac Jackson’s contrary view.  What you left out was that you wrote that article.

 

>Our view is that the 17th earl of Oxford is the likeliest author of 

>Shakespeare’s plays

 

Emphasis supplied.  'Nuff said?

 

>Weiss ... does not understand cognitive dissonance. 

 

Yes, I do. It is “a feeling of discomfort when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions.  In a state of dissonance, people may feel disequilibrium, frustration, hunger, dread, guilt, anger, embarrassment, anxiety, etc.” So wrote Dr. Leon Festinger in his 1957 seminal article identifying the condition. Egan evidently feels no shame or other unease in advocating (not just holding) two diametrically opposed viewpoints.

 

>Finally, I am stunned, and I hope others are too, by Weiss’s 

>comment that it’s difficult to find anything in Shakespeare that 

>is particularly “humanitarian.” What are these, please?  

>Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are,

>That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,

>How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,

>Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you

>From seasons such as these? Oh, I have ta’en

>Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp.

>Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,

>That thou mayst shake the superflux to them

>And show the heavens more just.

 

What is that you ask. That is a speech of King Lear. Here is a speech of Gonzalo:

    

    I' th' commonwealth I would, by contraries,

    Execute all things; for no kind of traffic

    Would I admit; no name of magistrate;

    Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,

    Or use of service, none; contract, succession,

    Bourne, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;

    No use of metal, corn or wine, or oil;

    No occupation, all men idle, all;

    And women too,  but innocent and pure;

    No sovereignty --

 

Does that make Shakespeare a humanitarian? A utopian communist?  Should we take into consideration that Lear and Gonzalo were both senile? I for one think it more likely that Shakespeare agreed with Ulysses, who, unlike Lear and Gonzalo, was in full command of his mental faculties:

 

    ... O, when degree is shak'd,

    Which is the ladder of all high designs,

    The enterprise is sick.  How could communities,

    Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities,

    Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,

    The primogenity and due of birth,

    Prerogatives of age, crowns, scepters, laurels,

    But by degree stand in authentic place?

    Take but degree away, untune that string, 

    And hark what discord follows.  Each thing meets

    In mere oppugnancy: ....

 

Who can say which of these speeches, or any others in the play, represents Shakespeare’s own sentiments? Make that assertion and I challenge you to support it with evidence from something he said or did in his own life.  

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Marianne Kimura <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 23, 2013 8:29:21 PM EDT

Subject:     “Horrible”

 

Dear SHAKSPER, editor:

 

How can Larry Weiss be so sure my idea is a delusion?

 

After all, it address disparate elements in “Romeo and Juliet” and unifies them. Does he have a better way to explain the odd features of the play? Was Shakespeare not capable of intricate and devious allegory? Was London not polluted by coal smoke?

 

Nevertheless, I say to Mr. Weiss:

 

You do look, my son, in a moved sort, 

As if you were dismay’d: be cheerful, sir. (“The Tempest”) 

 

In my defense, I can only offer up the fact that my academic papers on the topic (two at the moment) were accepted through the peer-review process at an academic journal at a major university in Japan. 

 

I do think that culturally, the sun as a living mythological presence here in Japan may have helped me too.

 

I do think that vicious words such as “delusion” and “horrible” (when they are simply used as attacks and are not substantiated by explanations and logical reasons) are (I quote Hamlet):

 

“O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!”

 

Mr. Weiss is recommended to buy my novel Juliet is the Sun! In fact, if he will contact me, I will even send him a free copy!

 

Cheers,

Marianne Kimura

 

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Peter Groves <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 23, 2013 11:51:08 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shakespeare Businessman

 

According to Michael Egan, “The Oxfordian has been described as the leading academic journal of its type in the world” (“O, by whom?” as Malcolm says), which is rather like describing William McGonagall as the leading poet of his type in English literature. But the claim may have substance, given that most types of academic journal show an unfair bias towards claims that are based on evidence rather than on fantasy, special pleading and prevarication.

 

Peter Groves

 

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Clark J. Holloway <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 24, 2013 2:47:12 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shakespeare the Grain-Dealing Tax Evader

 

Michael Egan wrote:

 

<quote>...Shakespeare ever visited Italy. We know he did because of the local detail his Italian plays contain, much more than might be acquired from some drunken sailor in a tavern. There is for example the sycamore grove just west of Verona, fleetingly al­luded to in Ro­meo and Juliet, Act 1, when Benvolio tells Lady Montague that he has just seen Romeo “un­derneath the grove of sycamore / That westward rooteth from [Verona’s] side.” It’s still there. </quote>

 

Am I the only one who finds it amusing that someone would actually go to Verona to verify the accuracy of a Shakespearean pun? The lovesick Romeo is reported to be brooding about in a sick-amour grove, so someone had to jump on a plane to determine whether there is, in fact, a sycamore grove just west of Verona? Given the abundance of sycamore trees in Italy, I’ll wager they’d find similar groves to the east, south, and north of Verona as well.

 

Clark Holloway

 

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