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Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare?

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  • #76
    I sometimes think the wackier Bacon/Marlowe/Elizabeth I/people who died too early or were born too late, etc. = Shakespeare suffer from the same fundamental problem as Sickert/Gull/Prince Eddy = Jack the Ripper.

    The Shakespeare loons usually know Shakespeare's work backwards and forwards, and the work of whoever their pet theory is, but nothing else. They know nothing of Jonson, Webster, Marlowe (unless they think Marlowe is Shakespeare), or anyone, and they know nothing of Elizabethan history, or Jacobean, for that matter, or England in general, or anything about Shakespeare's sources, or about writing, or playwrighting.

    A lot of crazy Ripper theories come from people who know all about the Ripper crimes, and all about the life of their pet suspect, but nothing about Victorians, about England, and British history, or the geography of the East End, and what they know of forensics generally comes from watching Criminal Minds and CSI. They may also know a little about abnormal psychology as it pertains to serial killers, but nothing about normal psychology. Sometimes people who happen to be psychopaths still do things for the same reasons other people do things, like staying in one night, because it's raining, not for any bizarre reason related to their psychopathy.

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    • #77
      I thought there were six authenticated signatures plus one putative...but perhaps I'm out of date...I've got vague recollections, as a schoolboy, of attending a Shakespeare Exhibition at Brighton Museum in the 60's and I think there were at least a couple of original signatures present, plus reproductions of the other then known ones...I do remember being amazed that they were all spelled differently....

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      • #78
        The different spellings probably weren't completely random. I'll bet when Shakespeare was a kid, he just spelled it the way his father did. When he moved to London, the accent there, as well as different local spelling conventions influenced him to change. When his plays were being published, he may have experimented with eye-catching spellings, and when he returned to Stratford, his family may have been using some other spelling, which he was happy to use, since it seems to have been his intention to put his theater days behind him.

        The way my mother's maiden name was spelled got changed once when her family came to the US, and it changed again in her lifetime, when the family capitulated to the way Americans pronounced it the first time they saw it.

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        • #79
          Hi Rivkah

          I couldn't comment specifically on Shakespeare's name spellings, but there's good evidence to suggest that consistent spellings of either names or even quite ordinary words weren't regarded as in the least important on a day-to-day basis, until after the Dr Johnson era!

          You're quite right about local spelling (and of course pronunciation) varieties too - they're noted famously in Chaucer, (eggs), and hang about for ages...Indeed it is only in relatively recent years that the decline in local dialects and accents has really started to take hold...though some have been gone for longer than others - for example the broad Sussex accent is something I've only ever heard from a few old folk in my lifetime (mostly in my youth/teenage years) and it's all but dead and buried now. (there used to be/probably still are a "Copper" family living in Rottingdean who tried to preserve the old Sussex songs/poetry/accent/dialogue - but sadly the older speakers are now gone...

          In other parts of the world, happily, traces at least, hang on...

          All the best

          Dave

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          • #80
            I'm aware that spellings weren't consistent. I was addressing the reason. Shakespeare may not have pronounced his name the same his whole life.

            People who are poor spellers tend to have some internal consistency, because they sound out words. Back when there was no far-reaching media to stabilize dialects, people probably changed the way they spoke if they moved. The way people in an area in a particular time spelled would be somewhat consistent, because they all sounded out words, but they all said them the same way. The reason you see "wind" (air currents) spelled "wind," "wynd," and "wend" from the same time period is that in three different areas, it was pronounced in distinct ways. People could communicate, because we rely on context for meaning-- if you've ever seen a children's cartoon where there's a character, usually an animal, who talks, but only approximates words, and yet, you can still understand what the character is saying (US example: the dog Blue), you see how context is more important than precise pronunciation.

            I'm just saying there's a reason behind each spelling. They weren't pulled out of a hat. And you won't ever see "Shakespeare" spelled "ball peen hammer."

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            • #81
              Hi Rivkah

              In general terms I was agreeing with you...perhaps I shouldn't bother in future

              All the best

              Dave

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              • #82
                If Shakespeare wasn't Shakespeare he wouldn't have the forehead of Shakespeare.

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                • #83
                  Personally I find the arguments put forward suggesting Shakespeare not only wasnt the author of all the works accredited to him,but COULDNT have been ,quite convincing. Mark Twain's views on the issue are well worth reading,and its difficult to argue with his logic imo. However its not really important who the author/authors were,its the content that matters ,and the exploitation ,beauty and richness of the English language,still available for the public to enjoy despite the present day bastardisation of the language, by Americans in particular,and by everyone else in general.

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                  • #84
                    Bastardisation?

                    Think that's a bit strong Joe...The simple fact is that languages evolve...it's their nature...and you don't suppose English is almost a universal tongue because it's spoken in much of Britain do you?

                    Moreover many of the North American usages some people imagine are "bastardisations" are in fact examples of older usages now dead in Britain...

                    All the best

                    Dave

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                    • #85
                      Cogidubnus.
                      I was writing a little tongue in cheek,not meaning to give offense.Ive nothing against Americans -in fact Im married to one.The bastardisation (which strictly speaking isnt bastardisation) is the modern use by the younger generation of words such as kewl, etc and written expressions on the internet pmsl-ffs- and of course "gangbanga" language(if that is the correct term)and so on and so forth.
                      Universal language?If it is its not because of the fact its spoken in Britain. Its because,in part ,its one of the simplest,easiest languages in the world,both in speech and script. Britains empire contributed to its spread obviously.I wasnt trying to suggest that anything that came from Britain ,must by virtue of that fact be superior .Though it probabley is.
                      Anyway no offence intended

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                      • #86
                        Hi Joe

                        No offence taken...Firstly I'm a Brit myself...and hopefully a realistic one! But be aware that many folk on here are left pond and might well look askance!

                        My contention would be that it's U.S.English the world is eagerly learning to speak...the British Empire obviously spread the useage initially, but it's continuation as an international language is really down to US influence!

                        It certainly isn't one of the simplest languages in the world...in it's irregularity of construction it's probably one of the most difficult, and persons trying to learn it as a second tongue will probably confirm this...

                        All the best

                        Dave

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                        • #87
                          Yes indeed, languages evolve - every year a whole raft of new words make it into the OED and another raft of words fade into obscurity.

                          The words that tend to change are those pertaining to culture - like new words 'downlink' 'defriend' etc. Words petaining to environment, human interaction - immovables basically - tend to remain pretty constant.

                          That's why we can (mostly) understand Shakespeare after 400 years.

                          And the idea of 'bastardising' English is hilarious - English isn't a 'real' language at all - it's a mish-mash of several itself; so the idea that it can be 'bastardised' is highly questionable.

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                          • #88
                            To re-ignite the original theme of this discussion, I have delved quite deeply into the subject over recent years. To me the answer is quite clear:

                            * the plays and poems contain Warwickshire "dialect" words for many things and William was a Warwickshire lad;

                            * the works can be related closely to events in William Shakespeare's life;

                            * Ovid's Metamorphoses is known to have been one of Shakespeare's favorite works/sources;

                            * there is a copy of Hall's chronicles (a source for the History Plays) that is annotated in a hand acknowledged by experts to be Shakespeare's;

                            * Honigmann has shown that the "lost years" can be explained by a sojourn in Lancashire which connects William to Lord Strange (later the Earl of Derby)and his acting company;

                            * many activities mentioned in the plays, and the use of metaphor related to them, would have been familiar to Shakespeare - such as glove-making and butchery;

                            * William's catholic upbringing can be related to some of the approaches to authority etc taken in his plays;

                            * the so-called insights into the noble life-style can be explained readily by, at the outset his relation to the Arden family and later to his exposure to the royal court and courtiers;

                            * Shakespeare was alive through the time his plays appeared (which marlow, as an example, was not);

                            * William's acting associates published the first folio in his name - why do so if they did not know and recognise him as the author?

                            * disputes about different signatures/spellings of the name, simply reflect the custom of the day which did not have recognised or consistent spelling.

                            I reject all the complex ideas of Baconian codes (no one agrees on any) or other "games", with William as a cover for a more "noble" author, as ridiculous and impractical.

                            To me there is no question: William Shakespeare of Stratford was one and the same as "William Shakespeare" the playwright.

                            Phil

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                            • #89
                              To me there is no question: William Shakespeare of Stratford was one and the same as "William Shakespeare" the playwright.
                              To me neither, Phil.

                              To me, such 'theories' are the equivalent, say, of people who claim that Vincnt Van Gogh was Jack the Ripper - sensationalist twaddle.

                              Oh attention-seeking, headlin-grabbing revisionism.

                              It does get my goat.

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                              • #90
                                Ditto

                                And my Capra aegagrus hircus too!

                                All the best

                                Dave

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