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  #11  
Old 05-22-2012, 08:49 AM
Henry Flower Henry Flower is offline
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As a teenager I was a confirmed and zealous Oxfordian. Never a day passed without my re-reading at least one chapter of Charlton Ogburn's epic 900-page 'The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth and the Reality". As is the way with conspiracy theories, it became a nearly all-consuming religion to me.

It was only much later I could stand back and see that the book bombards you with so much detail, so much context, so much history, that you fail to see the bigger picture: that the book is pulling the same old trick of dismissing as part of a conspiracy any evidence which ascribed the authorship to William Shaksper of Stratford. The old unfalsifiability trick.

It was only much later when I read Irvin Matus's 'Shakespeare in Fact' that the scales well and truly fell from my eyes, but it had been an enjoyable journey, and it did teach me much about the Elizabethan and Jacobean world.

I agree with Dave - nothing kills Shakespeare more than a bored teacher who teaches Shakespeare for curricular reasons; but I disagree that the works have to be seen performed to be fully loved. The dense networks of imagery and allusion in the language of Hamlet or Lear really need to be unpacked in the mind more deliberately and carefully than any rushed hearing in a theatre allows - at least, in any performance I've ever witnessed. Maybe a great performance helps you fall in love with the piece, and then you take it home and start to explore the text with the attention it deserves...

For anyone wanting a book that explores Shakespeare's quite astonishing use of language in a very enjoyable and bawdy way, I'd recommend Martin Green's beautiful little oddity 'The Labyrinth of Shakespeare's Sonnets' - which superbly explores the astonishing array of ever-expanding sexual metaphor and double-meaning in the Sonnets. After reading this, no standard commentary on the Sonnets (especially those of the A.L. Rowse school, for example) ever seems quite credible again.
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  #12  
Old 05-22-2012, 11:00 AM
Sally Sally is offline
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Default Sensationalist Claptrap...

Sitting on the fence as usual..

Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare - probably with some collaboration in some cases; which would be unremarkable in his social milieu.

Alternative authorship notions are of a common nature and all arise from the belief that an 'uneducated' man could not have been a literary genius; it's intellectual elitism, simply.

Of course, all such theories must be sensational in order to attract attention - much like the current rash of Artist-Jack theories.

I despise them, too.

I saw the silly film, Anonymous. though. Good Lord. Even Marlowe has a better chance of having been Shakespeare than Oxford; much like a military aircraft might one day be confused with a high speed passenger train.
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  #13  
Old 05-22-2012, 11:58 AM
Henry Flower Henry Flower is offline
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Sally I do agree, though I want to pick you up on one point. It's absolutely standard to dismiss the proponents of the various alternative Shakespeares by alluding to their snobbery and boiling down their argument to the belief that no uneducated man could've been a literary genius.

Even though I now believe firmly that Will Shaksper of Stratford was the player, dramatist and poet 'Shakespeare', I still think it's rather unfair to make this false accusation. Ogburn's magnum opus mentioned in my above post contains 900 pages of considerable scholarship, and not a little reasoning. The argument has never been that an uneducated man could not be a literary genius; the argument is thus:

The notion that Shakespeare exhibits no great education but plenty of 'natural genius' is a myth: the range and density of his classical allusions, his allusions to the work of his contemporaries, his detailed engagement with scientific and philosophical thought both old and new, his absolutely natural understanding of and familiarity with the maneuverings of an Elizabethan court and of power politics, his intimate knowledge and easy familiarity with all sports enjoyed solely by the nobility - all of this and more points in their eyes to someone who had received an outstanding education, most likely the type of education more usually had by a nobleman than by a graduate of Stratford Grammar School.

At no point have they simply decided that because Shakespeare was a great writer he must therefore have been an aristocrat. After all, they seem perfectly happy to leave the authorships of Marlowe and Johnson, and hundreds of others, completely unquestioned.

It is something very specific about the type of knowledge and language employed by Shakespeare that gives them the notion that we are possibly looking at a highly-educated aristocrat as the author.

As I've stated, I disagree, and I think there are alternative explanations. However, let's not simply repeat the lazy, illogical, and deeply unfair accusation that those who propose alternative candidates do so because they are elitists who think only bluebloods can be geniuses.

Last edited by Henry Flower : 05-22-2012 at 12:01 PM.
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  #14  
Old 05-22-2012, 12:02 PM
lynn cates lynn cates is offline
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Hello Don, Scott. Thanks. Yes, the chap was a crank. Sadly, people would pay to listen to such rot.

Come to think of it, it is little different today.

Cheers.
LC
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  #15  
Old 05-22-2012, 12:06 PM
lynn cates lynn cates is offline
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Hello Michael. I'll say.

Actually, a similar situation arose about St. Thomas a`Kempis and his "De Imitatio Christi." For centuries, he was the author. Scholars, however, were not satisfied. Last century, it was anyone BUT Thomas. But around a quarter century ago, scholarship had come full circle and Thomas was reinstated.

Ah, the whims of the scholar!

Cheers.
LC
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  #16  
Old 05-22-2012, 12:09 PM
lynn cates lynn cates is offline
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Hello Sally. I largely agree.

"Alternative authorship notions are of a common nature and all arise from the belief that an 'uneducated' man could not have been a literary genius"

Hmm, and I though they arose from a desire to get tenure.

Cheers.
LC
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  #17  
Old 05-22-2012, 12:38 PM
jason_c jason_c is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry Flower View Post
Sally I do agree, though I want to pick you up on one point. It's absolutely standard to dismiss the proponents of the various alternative Shakespeares by alluding to their snobbery and boiling down their argument to the belief that no uneducated man could've been a literary genius.

Even though I now believe firmly that Will Shaksper of Stratford was the player, dramatist and poet 'Shakespeare', I still think it's rather unfair to make this false accusation. Ogburn's magnum opus mentioned in my above post contains 900 pages of considerable scholarship, and not a little reasoning. The argument has never been that an uneducated man could not be a literary genius; the argument is thus:

The notion that Shakespeare exhibits no great education but plenty of 'natural genius' is a myth: the range and density of his classical allusions, his allusions to the work of his contemporaries, his detailed engagement with scientific and philosophical thought both old and new, his absolutely natural understanding of and familiarity with the maneuverings of an Elizabethan court and of power politics, his intimate knowledge and easy familiarity with all sports enjoyed solely by the nobility - all of this and more points in their eyes to someone who had received an outstanding education, most likely the type of education more usually had by a nobleman than by a graduate of Stratford Grammar School.

At no point have they simply decided that because Shakespeare was a great writer he must therefore have been an aristocrat. After all, they seem perfectly happy to leave the authorships of Marlowe and Johnson, and hundreds of others, completely unquestioned.

It is something very specific about the type of knowledge and language employed by Shakespeare that gives them the notion that we are possibly looking at a highly-educated aristocrat as the author.

As I've stated, I disagree, and I think there are alternative explanations. However, let's not simply repeat the lazy, illogical, and deeply unfair accusation that those who propose alternative candidates do so because they are elitists who think only bluebloods can be geniuses.
I largely agree with this. While the original proponents of the Oxford theory were intellectual snobs I dont think this is the case now. Many modern Oxfordians are simply anti-authoritarian. The conspiracy is an attractive story for some, a moneymaking opportunity for others.

Last edited by jason_c : 05-22-2012 at 12:40 PM.
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  #18  
Old 05-22-2012, 12:49 PM
jason_c jason_c is offline
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The best evidence for Shakespeare's authorship of the plays are his two published poems, Venus and Adonis & The Rape of Lucrese imo. Oxford would have given his pound of flesh to be known as the author of these works. I've yet to be persuaded as to why Oxford would publish these two poems in someone else's name. If the Stratford man could write two excellent pieces of work such as this then its an easy jump to write the plays too.
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  #19  
Old 05-22-2012, 02:00 PM
Scorpio Scorpio is offline
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I don't credit Shakeaspeare doubters: literary snobs who cannot except the
most intelligent voice in the English language was a lowly glove-makers son.
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  #20  
Old 05-22-2012, 03:27 PM
jason_c jason_c is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scorpio View Post
I don't credit Shakeaspeare doubters: literary snobs who cannot except the
most intelligent voice in the English language was a lowly glove-makers son.
I think this is a bit ungenerous. Original Oxfordians may have had some snobbery about them, but modern ones less so. Poverty does not stop someone being a genius, but poverty can prevent them knowing the details of law, seamanship, falconry etc.

Again, its not a theory I subscribe to, but the argument concerning knowledge is subtly different to the argument over class or genetics.
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