The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0264  Friday, 22 June 2012


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

Date:         June 21, 2012 4:22:05 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Himself


Regarding the subject of Falstaff under the banner of HIMSELF on list, I had submitted the material that I found on this, including Peter Levi’s observation of the court record that records John Shakespeare’s name as “Johannem Shakere.” No one else beside Levi seems to have reported this, although I tried to find corroboration. However, with Peter Levi’s books featured and reviewed on two occasions in the New York Times Book Review section (about ten years ago), I concluded that he is a reputable historian. (I have in vain tried to reach him.)


In my earlier piece, I pointed out that Shakespeare’s Coat of Arms features a falcon which in falconry is known as a “saker” and is a word that can be found in our dictionaries. I noted the coincidence of the similarity of “shakere” and “saker” and thought that that could possibly be meaningful.


Since I know that “shakere” in Hebrew means “false,” (the word is a variation of usual Hebrew form, “sheker,” being the way the word is pronounced in the Hebrew Bible when it appears at the end of a sentence—it does in the Ninth Commandment, being the last words in the sentence as “eyde shakere”—literally “witness false.” This meaning seems to align with the FALS in FALStaff, amounting to another allusion to the name Shakere, although it also aligns with the FAL of FALcon, which I noted.


I pooled the above information with what I have heard about Falstaff being a stand-in for the poet himself because of the character’s great wit. I related this to John Brigg’s suggestion that William played the part of John Falstaff. Since the name John corresponds to both Falstaff and John S, I suggested that perhaps this could be an allusion to the personality of John Shakespeare. If so, it would have been a character that the poet would have relished in playing, thereby supporting Briggs’ suggestion.


The above is about the size of what I presented. It can be accepted or rejected by readers in part or whole. It can be used by others in forming their own interpretations through pooling their own command of historical facts. I would think that all shreds of information about the poet would be of interest and welcome. Who knows what others on list could make of this information?


Larry Weiss’s dissertation on my piece was interesting but seems rather irrelevant to my remarks since I put them forward on list at face value with all their raw challenges, rather than as bringing forth any definitive conclusion that needed to be shot down.


David Basch


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