The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0323 Tuesday, 9 July 2013
Date: July 9, 2013 11:49:41 AM EDT
I think it is unfortunate that you now employ the term Anti-Shakespearean for those who harbor some doubts about you know what. I understand the rationale, having read Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, that the man is not to be separated from his context. I agree, but the term suggests that Doubters dislike Shakespeare. Quite the opposite is true which is why they are interested in you know what. The works and their writer need to be placed in their true context.
The traditional term is Anti-Stratfordian. I don’t like it though because it is unnecessarily contentious. I propose the term non-Stratfordian.
Since I have read the General Introduction to Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, I am convinced by its arguments. As Edmondson and Wells write,
Throughout this book we use the term ‘anti-Shakespearian’ to describe those who propagate any theory which disputes Shakespeare’s authorship and co-authorship of the works attributed to him. In the past the term has been ‘anti-Stratfordian’, which allows the work attributed to Shakespeare to be separated from the social and cultural context of its author. But to deny Shakespeare of Stratford’s connection to the work attributed to him is to deny the essence of, in part, what made that work possible. Michelangelo cannot be separated from Florence and Rome; Charles Dickens would not be Charles Dickens without London. Shakespeare was formed by both Stratford-upon-Avon and London. The phrases ‘the Stratford man’, ‘actor from Stratford’ and even ‘anti-Stratfordian’ perpetuate this kind of divide. These terms concede that it is possible to separate an artist from his or her background and cultural context. ‘Anti-Shakespearian’ seems to us to be a more accurate and honest term to use, even when we are referring to great Shakespeare writers and actors of the past and present.
It seems to me that if one is maintaining that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon and London wrote the plays and poems attributed to him and used him as a dupe to hide the author’s true identity as in the film Anonymous say, then one is anti-Shakespearean and for X, Y, or Z as author. To employ, anti-Stratfordian or non-Stratfordian seems still to me to perpetuate the “divide” that Edmondson and Wells refer to above. The same arguments apply to those who “doubt” the authorship of William Shakespeare. I, of course, believe that Shakespeare is the author Beyond Doubt.
PS: Dear all, please realize this discussion is about a term and not about the banned topic known at the so-called “Authorship Question.”
PPS: Dear Michael, I am delighted you are reading Shakespeare Beyond Doubt and I hope that others do too.