An Annotated Oxfordian Manifesto

More from the imdb Anonymous Board. This is a summary of the Oxfordian position by long term contributor Howard Schumann with rebuttal annotations in green by fellow board member, alfa-16, with rebuttals by other contributors further down the page.

The Case for Edward de Vere, as presented by Howard Schumann

The case against presented by alfa-16

"The plays demonstrate a highly educated mind, with a feudal, aristocratic view of society. [Wrong] They are full of detailed references to lordly pastimes[Wrong] and sports[Wrong] and also show a detailed knowledge of the law and of foreign languages.[Wrong] De Vere studied law at Gray's Inn[Supposition] after completing his education at Cambridge[Supposition] . The records of his education, whilst living in the Burghley household, show him to have been equipped to be an outstanding scholar,[Supposition] highly proficient in the classics and French. [Supposition] - All of these assertions belong in the same class of fiction. They are intended to tailor a profile of the author which corresponds to the life of their candidate. Not only is this profile completely unsupported by the work itself, it really doesn't fit De Vere all that well either. For example, while he matriculated and was later awarded an honorary degree, there's no evidence he ever did any work at Cambridge or for that matter, at Gray's Inn. Nor can Oxfordians produce examples of the elite knowledge that might have been hidden from commoners like Shakespeare or Marlowe or Jonson or even knowledge that might have been hard to acquire. And far from a feudal view of society, Coriolanus provides the best insight into spin doctoring in elections until 20C satire gets going.

If Shakspere of Stratford were the author, he would have been writing for a company of actors and thus providing plays not much in advance of their first performance. If they were written by de Vere, the plays would not— have been written in such conditions, but rather for private performance at Court, and subsequently revised into their present, literary, form.[Supposition] Indeed, it has been established that two-thirds of all the documented performances of Shakespeare's plays were not in the public theatres but either at Court, the Inns of Court and at Oxford and Cambridge universities.[But unlike plays written for court performance, vast expense, high on long speeches, rhymed couplets, alexandrines and low on drama, containing devices or surprises, all of them were written to be performed before a paying public in theatres, wherever else they might have been performed] . When they were written would have no direct link with when they were first performed or published.[Wrong as in ‘hard to be more wrong’ some roles were written for specific actors and their names, rather than the character's survive in some Quarto editions, while some take advantage of specific theatre layouts and props. Characters exits and entrances allow for costume changes. The author was an unsurpassed master of practical stagecraft. The man who wrote the plays worked in the theatre, not a remote stately home.]

Like John Lyly's plays they could well have been written many years before they were actually published.[Wrong. If Lyly’s lesser work lay unperformed (and there's no evidence either way) it was for obvious reasons — the plays are not very good - once his reputation was made by Campaspe, it may have been different. Who knows? Lyly's chronolgy has received only a tiny fraction of the scholarly investigations into Shakespeare's. It isn't relevant - later: though now there is considerable academic work beng devoted to building an exact map of the whole of Elizabethan and Jacobena theatre. This work further reduces the chance of Oxford's involvement in Shakespeare's work].

The quality of the works and the exquisite workmanship of the poetry as we now have it make it difficult to believe that they were produced under pressure,[Inference – wrong] for immediate performance on a public stage, but rather that they were first drafted out, then refined and perfected over a period of years, probably away from the pressures of production or publication[Wrong as in couldn’t be more wrong. We know from the way the Quarto Editions and the First Folio were produced that texts were assembled from playhouse relics, foul papers, prompt copies and actor’s memories. Not perfect manuscripts.] . There are shadowy references to Court plays (by de Vere?) put on in the 1570s which could be early versions of plays which subsequently appeared as Shakespeare's.[Fanciful guesswork built on zero foundation. Material which featured in earlier plays was routinely recycled by all Elizabethan dramatists. There may have been other Hamlets and other Julius Caesar's but there's o evidence linking them with De Vere or Shakespeare].

While Edward de Vere was living at William Cecil's house in London as a royal ward of Court, Arthur Golding, his maternal uncle, is also known to have lived in the Cecil household. Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses is one of the more influential books published at this time - and its vivacious style and exquisite turn of phrase stand in marked contrast to the rather dour style of his other published works.[Wrong] It is widely recognised that this translation of Ovid had a major influence on ‘Shakespeare’.[Probably wrong - definitely overstated - references in the canon indicate Shakespeare used other translations, available at the time] Could this work have been a collaborative achievement by uncle and nephew?[Wild supposition - De Vere was 15 years his junior and 14 years old when the first four books were published. Work that is indisputatbly De Vere's is inferior to Golding's work, not superior.]

Soon after the name ‘Shake-speare’ appeared in print for the first time, no new poems were published in the anthologies of the day either under de Vere's own name or the more common EO (standing for Edward Oxenford which was how he wrote his signature).[Wrong – None of De Vere’s poetry appears to have been published and none of it is in print now outside biography and the authorship debate. It’s just not good enough] These poems have some similarities in vocabulary, imagery and form to the Shakespeare poems[Superficial structural resemblance maybe] but, as works written in his teens and early twenties,they are clearly works of juvenilia[You write juvenilia when you are juvenile, not in your twenties] and lack the maturity of style of the Shakespeare poems.[they also lack his quality of thought and imagination] .

Yet this is perfectly natural - no-one would criticise Beethoven's early string quartets because they lacked the towering genius of, say, the Ninth Symphony.[they would if they were as mediocre as the De Vere poems. And when did you last hear a public performance of Haydn’s First Symphony. Or Mozart’s or even Beethoven’s? The point is fiercely ironic since, in dating the plays, Oxfordians put much of Shakespeare's late work at the beginning of his career] It is hardly conceivable that the earliest known poems of Shakespeare - The Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis - were the first fruits of his pen. Yet where can Stratfordians point to Shakespeare's juvenilia?[Specious. What happens to plays that aren’t good enough to get performed? Where would you look for Bertolt Brecht’s or Samuel Beckett’s Juvenilia? W M Merchant says of Wordsworth that 'no poet ever made less effective se of the wast paper basket' Maybe someone who could write like Shakespeare in his prime, didn't want his juvenilia harming his rep. later: as the work on collaborative theatre progresses, some of Will's work is starting to turn up in other plays, further reducing the Oxfordian objection to lack of juvenilia.]

Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were published in 1593 and 1594 and were the first works to be published under the name ‘Shake-speare’. For the next five years the records show the name to have been associated exclusively with these two works. Printed plays under the name ‘Shake-speare’ did not appear until 1598,[Specious. Plays printed under any author’s name did not appear until 1598] the year that Lord Burghley died.[Coincidence] These two narrative poems were both dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. Based on the fact that the Earl of Southampton was, for a time, being considered as a suitor for the hand of Edward de Vere's eldest daughter Elizabeth,[along with many other possible matches] a strong case can be made that the Earls of Southampton and Oxford were well acqainted. It is also well known that Edward de Vere's son and heir, Henry de Vere, was a firm friend of Southampton - there is even a double portrait of the two men mounted on chargers.[Why would a belted Earl need to schmooze a patron in a dedication, exactly? De Vere WAS a patron of the arts. Not a recipient or suppliant of patronage]

The Sonnets

The 154 Sonnets themselves are recognized as the most intimately biographical works in the canon [but only by people who can't tell the difference between 'personal' and 'autobiographical'] and they depict an older, lame aristocrat[Wrong] who is in some sort of disgrace.[Wrong] This is hardly a match for William Shakspere.[Because it’s wrong, Will's use of those adjectives is metaphorical] Orthodox scholars implicitly acknowledge as much when they speculate that the Sonnets may be fictional;[No they don’t] but they don't treat them as fictional when they try to identify the Fair Youth, Dark Lady and Rival Poet.[because they are clearly real to Shakespeare]

If these were fictional characters, there would have been no reason not to give them names, but none of them is named. Also, the title, ‘Shake-speares Sonnets’ (not Sonnets, by Shakespeare), and its dedication to "our ever-living poet," suggest that the author had already died by 1609.[Crazy. ‘Ever-living’ means ‘still living’ not ‘dead’ Pure invention] Even most orthodox Shakespeare scholars think that whoever wrote the Sonnets was not involved in their publication. Their dedication was initiated by the publisher and not the author. The publication of such revealing, even scandalous, poems would have been a great embarrassment to any living author.[Wrong. Like sonnets written by many other Elizabethan authors, they had been widely circulated before they were published as a collection although some had been published, unauthorized but still attributed to Shakespeare in The Passionate Pilgrim in 1599. Unpublished love sonnets by Shakespeare, Sydney, Raleigh, Donne and even one by Oxford were in wide circulation throughout their lives despite their embarrassing content. When you couldn't correspond with your loved one, or get her on her own, sonnets had a legitimate purpose and the finished work was often shared for popular admiration or re-use.]

Perhaps most relevant are those sonnets in which the author says, “My name be buried where my body is,”[Or perhaps the ones where he plays on the name ‘Will’ or says ‘My name is Will'??] and “Your name from hence immortal life shall have, / Though I, once gone, to all the world must die: / The earth can yield me but a common grave, / When you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie.” (72 and 81) In these sonnets, the author himself says that he neither wants, nor expects, his name to be remembered.[Misinterpration. He is clearly bemoaning the difference between the fate of commoners and the aristocracy] Authorship doubters contend that this is, in fact, what has happened. The orthodox claim they are fictional. Doubters find this absurd. How is it even possible that the author's name would not be remembered, unless it was not yet known?[Wrong. The author of the sonnets even offers an arrogant hostage to fortune by talking about immortalising his subjects in his own verse]

 

What the Plays Reveal

Fourteen[Wrong] of the plays have Italian settings and demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the country beyond pure book knowledge.[Wrong. The challenge to produce examples has gone unswered, whereas there is plenty of incorrect continental geographical knowledge] So detailed is the knowledge that ‘blunders’ about geography are now being shown to be correct.[Someone has created a fanciful defence of Shakespeare’s attribution of a seacoast to a map of 16C Bohemia that not even 16C Bohemians would recognize. His contemporary, Ben Jonson, ridiculed him for this mistake] De Vere spent the best part of a year travelling in Italy in 1575. He was satirised as 'The Italian Earl' on his return to England.

All but one (The Merry Wives of Windsor) of the 37 plays are set in Courtly or wealthy society. The noble characters are all natural, convincing and at ease.[Wrong. This type of generalization is totally inappropriate when dealing with Shakespeare] They speak the language of their class.[Wrong as in 'couldn’t be more wrong', Shakespeare’s characters all speak the same language, coloured by dialect as necessary. Accurate 16C courtoisie is significant only in its absence] Throughout the plays, every character through whom the author speaks on social or political issues is of noble birth or privileged position.[Completely wrong. We are closest to Shakespeare’s own words, most Shakespeareans think, in the actor's conversation in Hamlet, or when a tribune of Plebs in Coriolanus is speaking. Mark Antony was also a tribune of plebs] The world ‘Shake-speare’ wrote about was the world de Vere and his court audience knew.[Wrong the world Shakespeare wrote about was the world his paying customers wanted to see on stage].

It is ‘Shake-speare's’ lower-order characters which are unconvincing.[Wrong as in couldn’t be more wrong - these were his most popular characters. His tavern low-life scenes are spot-on and the characters are often his most sympathetic. The tart with a heart is a Shakespearean first] Almost all of them are clods or clowns; [Wrong] even their names are undignified - Wart, Bottom, Dogberry, Snout. By contrast, Ben Jonson's ‘ordinary’ characters are natural while his nobles are caricatures with the similarly ridiculous names such as Sir Epicure Mammon, Sir Paul Eitherside, Sir Diaphonous Silkworm.[Wrong. A misunderstanding of 16C theatrical tradition]

De Vere was excellent at the tilts and at jousting and numerous first-hand accounts exist which describe his successes in royal tournaments. His natural skill was such that the Cambridge scholar Gabriel Harvey eulogised the young Earl in the presence of the whole court during one of Queen Elizabeth's summer progresses, declaring "thine eyes flash fire, thy countenance shakes spears" [Imaginative, inaccurate translation] and urging him to put his scholarly activities to one side and make a name for himself leading men into battle.[Nevertheless his abysmal performance during the Armada crisis cost him his place at court. He took refuge in tin-mining, the quest for monopolies, petty administration tasks and begging for preferment]

De Vere was closely involved with the theatre; he held a lease on the Blackfriars Theatre and had his own group of players,[who he never wrote a play for] The Lord Oxford's Men. He was acknowledged by his contemporaries as a poet and praised as a playwright.[No real evidence to support this. He is mentioned, without reference to any actual plays, in two sycophantic lists along with other phantom playwrights. There is not a single reference anywhere to his involvement with an actual play. In one of these lists, Shakespeare AND some of his plays are enumerated, if the author had seen any plays by Oxford, he would probably have named them. But he didn't] Although there are only a few poems published in Elizabethan anthologies under the name 'EO', modern scholarship ascribes around twelve known poems to his authorship.[None of which, ironically, are good enough make the Oxford Anthology of 16C verse] Around thirty books were also dedicated to him during his lifetime,[because he was patron of the arts] there were none to ‘Shake-speare’.[because he wasn't a patron of he arts - compare their eulogies for a more significant comparison]He was also the patron of many writers but again, not of ‘Shake-speare’.[What do patrons do? And what do the patronized – writers/artist - do? How does that work again?]

The records show Lord Oxford's Men[and every other theatre group including Shakespeare’s] performing in the Boar's Head tavern in Eastcheap (referred to in Henry IV part 1). The records also show that two former servants of Lord Burghley were waylaid by De Vere's men, at Gad's Hill on the highway between Gravesend and Rochester, the very same stretch of road where Falstaff was ambushed by Prince Hal and his men in disguise.[the very same incident featuring in the source material dating from before De Vere was born. The A2 has been notorious all its long life.]

 

Parallels in the plays

The parallels between de Vere's life and events in the plays are too numerous, consistent, complex and intimate to be mere coincidences.[There are also amazing similarities to the lives of Wallis Simpson, President Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher, Radovan Karadic and, going back to 16C, almost every other Elizabethan for whom we have a biography not to mention amazing similarities in one character to a psychiatric disorder not documented until the 20C] This is particularly true of All's Well That Ends Well and, especially, Hamlet. Although dismissive of references which Oxfordians quote, Stratfordians constantly search the plays [No they don't.] for personal biographical allusions to Will Shakspere - without success, as they themselves admit.[Wrong. In MWW there is a kid called Will, learning Latin in a Midlands Grammar School, just as Shakespeare would have. Make what you like of it. It’s creative fiction not biography LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE in the plays.]

There are also parallels between characters and real court personages recognisable at the time and still so today.[Of course there are] The most frequently suggested are Burghley as Polonius, Sir Christopher Hatton as Malvolio, Sir Philip Sidney as Boyet and Aguecheek, Queen Elizabeth as Titania, Portia and Olivia. Only a senior nobleman closely associated with the Queen would surely have got away with caricaturing such powerful people. [Wrong. If there was anything risque in the plays, Oxford would also have caught it in the neck.]

Sigmund Freud, a strong supporter of the view that de Vere was ‘Shake-speare’, believed that no author can completely avoid giving insights into himself in his writings [whilst this is uncontentious, scholars agree that it is harder to spot the real Shakespeare in his writings than any other dramatist. Because of the universality of the scope and interest of the works, they don't 'point' at anything or anywhere.] and that the character of Hamlet is his own self portrait [Utterly ridiculous]. This is supported by writers such as Virginia Woolf, Gustav Flaubert and Edward Albee, and is a matter of common observation.[No it is not. The inability to detect Shakespeare's personality in his work is the common observation] If it were not so, literary biography, in which the writer's life is linked to his or her works would be a waste of time.[Wrong. That is NOT what literary biography does. If it did only that, it WOULD be a waste of time.]

Stratfordians recognize Hamlet as ‘the most autobiographical character’,[Wrong – Well not this one, anyway] that is the one in which the author seems to reveal himself most intimately, but they are baffled by the dissimilarity between Hamlet's ‘life’ and that of the Stratford man.[Wrong. Of course] Perhaps that is because they are looking at the wrong man."[Judge for yourselves]

 

 

 

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Comments (7)

  • anon

    Alpha-16 did a fine job of refuting Howard Schumann's post on the IMDB dicsussion board for "Anonymous."

    Without taking anything away from alpha-16, I also posted a response, which I would like to re-post here.

     

    The Case for Edward de Vere  by Howard Schuman
        And Richard Nathan’s Response:

    Howard Schumann (presumably quoting Looney, since he starts with a quotation mark, although he doesn't identify the quote or close the quotation mark, and I know Looney thought the playwright believed in feudalism): The plays demonstrate a highly educated mind, with a feudal, aristocratic view of society.

    Richard Nathan:  The idea that the plays show class bigotry is a remarkably shallow reading, reflecting the class bigotry of the Oxfordians. Try reading "Cymbeline" or "All's Well That Ends Well" and tell me the playwright believed in feudalism. In any event, by Elizabeth's time, only the most backward-looking people would have been feudalists.

    Howard Schumann:  They are full of detailed references to lordly pastimes and sports and also show a detailed knowledge of the law and of foreign languages.

    Richard Nathan:  The degree of learning, and the details of lordly pastimes, expressed in the plays has been the subject of much debate. But the idea that only a nobleman could become learned enough is class bigotry at its worst. Ben Jonson is widely regarded as the most learned playwright of the era, and his step-father was a bricklayer. Hamlet comments on how the difference between the classes was becoming less rigid. The playwright is much less of a class bigot than the Oxfordians.

    Howard Schumann:  De Vere studied law at Gray's Inn after completing his education at Cambridge. The records of his education, whilst living in the Burghley household, show him to have been equipped to be an outstanding scholar, highly proficient in the classics and French.

    Richard Nathan:  The matter of De Vere's education is much debated. His degree from Gray's Inn may well have been an honorary degree. Gray's Inn did give honorary degrees, as well as real degrees. Alan Nelson, the author of the Oxford biography "Monstrous Adversary," thinks there is little evidence that Oxford actually studied law. He also thought Oxford was the sort of fellow who, if he were alive today, would pronounce the word "nuclear" as "nukular."

    Howard Schumann:  If Shakspere of Stratford were the author, he would have been writing for a company of actors and thus providing plays not much in advance of their first performance.

    Richard Nathan:  True, and the first publication of the plays sometimes use the names of the actors from the Lord Chamberlain's men, rather than the name of the characters.

    Howard Schumann:   If they were written by de Vere, the plays would not have been written in such conditions, but rather for private performance at Court, and subsequently revised into their present, literary, form.

    Richard Nathan:  So if the plays were first written by de Vere for performance at court, the members of the court would presumably know de Vere was the author of the plays. From whom was the secret of the author's identity being kept? Some Oxfordians actually believe that most members of the court knew Oxford was the author, but they lived in fear that the common folk might find out that a nobleman had written these plays, which would have so scandalized the common folk that they would have started a revolution. Can anyone take such reasoning seriously? BUT REALLY, IF SCHUMANN BELIEVES OXFORD HAD HIS PLAYS FIRST PERFORMED AT COURT, WHO DOES HE BELIEVE THE AUTHOR'S IDENTITY WAS BEING KEPT SECRET FROM???? And who does Schumann think performed the plays at court?

    Howard Schumann: Indeed, it has been established that two-thirds of all the documented performances of Shakespeare's plays were not in the public theatres but either at Court, the Inns of Court and at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

    Richard Nathan: I'm not sure if this is true, but let's assume for the sake of argument that it is. Note the phrase "documented performances." More records were kept of court performances than were kept of the performances at the Globe. This does not mean there were more performances at court, it just means there were more records of the court performances. And as far as the records of the court performances go - who do these records show performed the plays? Was it not Shakespeare's acting company? Doesn't this destroy the whole thrust of Schumann's argument?

    Howard Schumann: When they were written would have no direct link with when they were first performed or published. Like John Lyly's plays they could well have been written many years before they were actually published.

    Richard Nathan: Well, we know that they were written BEFORE they were performed or published, so the dates of performance and publication do help. And it is unlikely that the plays would have been left lying around for years and years without being performed. The plays are intensely theatrical. They were meant to be performed. And on the issue of dating, the style of Elizabethan/Jacobean plays changed over the year. The plays that are traditionally dated later have a style that is more in keeping with the Jacobean style of theater that was also being written by other playwrights. Furthermore, although this is a somewhat subjective notion, some plays have a more mature feeling than other plays. Reportedly, the film "Anonymous" has "Henry V" being written before "Romeo & Juliet." I find that ridiculous. I have to change that, now that I've seen "Anonymous." The film idiotically depicts "Henry V" as the first play of the cannon performed on the public stage, but (according to the film) other plays, including "Romeo & Juliet" were performed at court long before "Henry V" was performed on the public stage. This again raises the question of why most of the court failed to figure out that Oxford was the author. It makes no damned sense.

    Howard Schumann: The quality of the works and the exquisite workmanship of the poetry as we now have it make it difficult to believe that they were produced under pressure, for immediate performance on a public stage, but rather that they were first drafted out, then refined and perfected over a period of years, probably away from the pressures of production or publication.

    Richard Nathan: Shakespeare is thought to have written about two plays a year. I don't think that means he was churning them out under a great deal of pressure, like some modern day television writer. As to whether they were intended to be staged, as someone who has seen all the plays in the cannon on stage, I can say they are all are essentially THEATRICAL in nature, although some are of course better than others. It's been remarked that the playwright was thinking of the actor (Burbage) when he gave Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear a few scenes off the stage before the last few scenes of their respective plays, to give the actor a much needed break.

    Howard Schumann: There are shadowy references to Court plays (by de Vere?) put on in the 1570s which could be early versions of plays which subsequently appeared as Shakespeare's.

    Richard Nathan:  "Could be"? Is that supposed to be evidence? Does Schumann understand the difference between actual evidence and idle speculation? You can't just pull a theory out of your butt and claim it is evidence.

    Howard Schumann: While Edward de Vere was living at William Cecil's house in London as a royal ward of Court, Arthur Golding, his maternal uncle, is also known to have lived in the Cecil household. Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses is one of the more influential books published at this time - and its vivacious style and exquisite turn of phrase stand in marked contrast to the rather dour style of his other published works. It is widely recognised that this translation of Ovid had a major influence on ‘Shakespeare’. Could this work have been a collaborative achievement by uncle and nephew?

    Richard Nathan
    : There's no reason to believe Oxford collaborated with Golding on Golding's translation of "Metamorphosis." Because there's a remote possibility that something could have happened is not evidence that it did happen. Oxfordians make up these elaborate fantasies, and then they present them as arguments. I'm related to a highly praised novelist, but that doesn't make me a novelist. There's no reason to believe I ever collaborated by my relative the novelist.

    Howard Schumann: Soon after the name ‘Shake-speare’ appeared in print for the first time, no new poems were published in the anthologies of the day either under de Vere's own name or the more common EO (standing for Edward Oxenford which was how he wrote his signature).

    Richard Nathan: Schumann wants us to believe that because we have no further publication by Oxford under his own name, he must have started publishing under the name Shakespeare. Why not just publish anonymously? Or maybe Oxford realized his poetry was for the most part rubbish, and decided to give it up.

    Howard Schumann: These poems have some similarities in vocabulary, imagery and form to the Shakespeare poems but, as works written in his teens and early twenties, they are clearly works of juvenilia and lack the maturity of style of the Shakespeare poems.

    Richard Nathan: It is a matter of opinion as to whether Oxford's published work had similarities to Shakespeare's work. I don't see any.

    Howard Schumann: Yet this is perfectly natural - no-one would criticise Beethoven's early string quartets because they lacked the towering genius of, say, the Ninth Symphony. It is hardly conceivable that the earliest known poems of Shakespeare - The Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis - were the first fruits of his pen. Yet where can Stratfordians point to Shakespeare's juvenilia?

    Richard Nathan: Try the sonnet that begins "Those lips that loves on hands did make" that arguably has a pun on the name Anne Hathaway. That's a strong candidate for Shakespeare juvenilia. As for other juvenilia, I think it's clear that "Comedy of Errors" is a very early play. And the "palm to palm is holy palmer's kiss" sonnet in "Romeo & Juliet" seems like less of a mature work than the sonnets in collection of Shakespeare's sonnets.

    Howard Schumann: Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were published in 1593 and 1594 and were the first works to be published under the name ‘Shake-speare’.

    Richard Nathan: The anti-Strats like to imagine that a hyphen was the sign of a pseudonym, which is nonsense. But in any event, Shakespeare's name appears in these poems WITHOUT a hyphen.

    Howard Schumann: For the next five years the records show the name to have been associated exclusively with these two works. Printed plays under the name ‘Shake-speare’ did not appear until 1598, the year that Lord Burghley died.

    Richard Nathan: What does Burghley's death have to do with anything? Are we supposed to assume that Burghley didn't want the plays published under a pseudonym?

    Howard Schumann: These two narrative poems were both dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton.

    Richard Nathan: And the dedications were written in the sort of obsequious tone that a commoner seeking patronage would use to address a nobleman, not in the tone that one nobleman would use to another.

    Howard Schumann: Based on the fact that the Earl of Southampton was, for a time, being considered as a suitor for the hand of Edward de Vere's eldest daughter Elizabeth, a strong case can be made that the Earls of Southampton and Oxford were well acqainted.

    Richard Nathan: Odd then, that there is no actual evidence whatsoever that they actually were well acquainted.

    Howard Schumann: It is also well known that Edward de Vere's son and heir, Henry de Vere, was a firm friend of Southampton - there is even a double portrait of the two men mounted on chargers.

    Howard Schumann: The Sonnets

    Howard Schumann: The 154 Sonnets themselves are recognized as the most intimately biographical works in the canon

    Richard Nathan: That's by no means a universally accepted opinion. It's impossible to tell how autobiographical they are.

    Howard Schumann: and they depict an older, lame aristocrat who is in some sort of disgrace.

    Richard Nathan: No, the poet never once says he is an aristocrat. There are a few references to being "lame," but they could be metaphorical. As to the issue of being in disgrace, the anti-Strats always argue that Shakespeare was never in disgrace. How do they know? And don't they always argue it was disgraceful in and of itself to be associated with the theater?

    Howard Schumann: This is hardly a match for William Shakspere.

    Richard Nathan: Well, there is the sonnet in which he says his name is Will. And the sonnet in which he says he wore motley. And the sonnet with the Hathaway pun. The sonnets give very little information as to the social status of the poet, although it does seem to me as though the poet is addressing the fair youth as if the fair youth was of higher social status than the poet - but I'm not confident of that.

    Howard Schumann: Orthodox scholars implicitly acknowledge as much when they speculate that the Sonnets may be fictional; but they don't treat them as fictional when they try to identify the Fair Youth, Dark Lady and Rival Poet.

    Richard Nathan: Not everyone tries to identify the Fair Youth, the Dark Lady and the Rival Poet. I'd like to hear of someone who argues at the same time that the Sonnets are entirely fictional and that they are based on real people. Surely only a very small minority would hold both those beliefs at the same time.

    Howard Schumann: If these were fictional characters, there would have been no reason not to give them names, but none of them is named.

    Richard Nathan: Well, giving the characters names would probably mess up the rhythms. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day, Henry?" doesn't have quite the same feel as "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"

    Howard Schumann: Also, the title, ‘Shake-speares Sonnets’ (not Sonnets, by Shakespeare), and its dedication to "our ever-living poet," suggest that the author had already died by 1609.

    Richard Nathan: The dedication mentions the ever-living poet. It is not a dedication TO the ever-living poet. The sonnets are dedicated to Mr. W. H. The reference to the ever-living poet is probably a reference to God, but it's difficult to say with absolute certainty. And if the publisher knew the poems were by Oxford, and knew he had to keep the secret by claiming they were written by Shakespeare, why would he reveal the poet was dead? It makes no sense.

    Howard Schumann: Even most orthodox Shakespeare scholars think that whoever wrote the Sonnets was not involved in their publication.

    Richard Nathan: No, that's not a universally held belief among scholars, though it may be the majority belief.

    Howard Schumann: Their dedication was initiated by the publisher and not the author. The publication of such revealing, even scandalous, poems would have been a great embarrassment to any living author.

    Richard Nathan: There are no reports of anyone being scandalized.

    Howard Schumann: Perhaps most relevant are those sonnets in which the author says, “My name be buried where my body is,” and “Your name from hence immortal life shall have, / Though I, once gone, to all the world must die: / The earth can yield me but a common grave, / When you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie.” (72 and 81)

    Richard Nathan: Or perhaps the most relevant sonnet to this discussion is the one where the poet says his name is Will.

    Howard Schumann: In these sonnets, the author himself says that he neither wants, nor expects, his name to be remembered.

    Richard Nathan: Where does he say he doesn't want his name to be remembered? I agree he says he doesn't expect his name to be remembered, but I don't recall his saying he wanted secrecy. However, I don't know the sonnets as well as I know the plays, so I could be wrong about that.

    Howard Schumann: Authorship doubters contend that this is, in fact, what has happened.

    Richard Nathan: Actually, many doubters claim Oxford wanted almost desperately for his authorship to be revealed, but for one reason or another, the powerful refused to let the secret be revealed. It is commonly claimed by Oxfordians that Hamlet's plea to Horatio to tell his story is Oxford's plea to some friend to reveal his identity as the author. They also claim Oxford is always dropping clues to his identity. Why would he do that if he wanted his real identity to be buried with him? Why couldn't his true identity be revealed after his death? The lengths to which people presumably went to keep Oxford's identity a secret long after his death makes no damned sense at all - but it's unrealistic to expect the anti-Strats to actually make sense.

    Howard Schumann: The orthodox claim they are fictional. Doubters find this absurd. How is it even possible that the author's name would not be remembered, unless it was not yet known?

    Richard Nathan: The sonnets go to great length to glorify the fair youth, while the poet is excessively humble. That's what the sonnets are all about. Oxford, on the other hand, was not known for his humility. Furthermore, the sonnets expressly state that the poet expects the sonnets to live on and become well known. Doesn't that conflict with your statement that the poet did not want the sonnets to be published?

    Howard Schumann: What the Plays Reveal

    Howard Schumann: Fourteen of the plays have Italian settings and demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the country beyond pure book knowledge.

    Richard Nathan: So why, in the plays set in Venice, does the playwright never mention the canals? The degree of detail of the knowledge of Italy is widely debated. In any event, one does not have to actually go to a country to know something about it. In any event, no matter where the plays are set, the people always exhibit basically the same behavior.

    Howard Schumann: So detailed is the knowledge that ‘blunders’ about geography are now being shown to be correct.

    Richard Nathan: In your dreams. What is the explanation of the ports in landlocked Italian cities?

    Howard Schumann: De Vere spent the best part of a year travelling in Italy in 1575. He was satirised as 'The Italian Earl' on his return to England.

    Howard Schumann: All but one (The Merry Wives of Windsor) of the 37 plays are set in Courtly or wealthy society. The noble characters are all natural, convincing and at ease.

    Richard Nathan: No they are not natural. Most definitely not. The plays are extremely artificial. Or do you believe the nobility actually spoke in iambic pentameter? We would love to believe the plays are real, but they are poetry. They aren't remotely naturalistic.

    Howard Schumann: They speak the language of their class.

    Richard Nathan: I guess you really do believe the nobility spoke in iambic pentameter.

    Howard Shumann: Throughout the plays, every character through whom the author speaks on social or political issues is of noble birth or privileged position.

    Richard Nathan: Apparently, you've never read "All's Well That Ends Well" or "Cymbeline."

    Howard Schumann: The world ‘Shake-speare’ wrote about was the world de Vere and his court audience knew.

    Richard Nathan: Knew a lot of fairies and sorcerers and witches, did they?

    Howard Schumann: It is ‘Shake-speare's’ lower-order characters which are unconvincing.

    Richard Nathan: You can't divide the characters up into only two classes. Yes, the most lowly peasants are, for the most part, foolish clowns. But Shakespeare was a member of the middle class, not the peasant that the anti-Strats like to claim he was. The middle class characters aren't all unconvincing. The Fool in "King Lear" is as convincing as any character in the cannon. Falstaff, although a knight, doesn't seem like an actual member of the nobility, and he's as real as anyone. Poins is convincing. Posthumous is quite convincing.

    Howard Schumann: Almost all of them are clods or clowns; even their names are undignified - Wart, Bottom, Dogberry, Snout. By contrast, Ben Jonson's ‘ordinary’ characters are natural while his nobles are caricatures with the similarly ridiculous names such as Sir Epicure Mammon, Sir Paul Eitherside, Sir Diaphonous Silkworm.

    Richard Nathan: Like Cloten in "Cymbeline"? Cloten is the son of the Queen, but he has an undignified name.

    Howard Schumann: De Vere was excellent at the tilts and at jousting and numerous first-hand accounts exist which describe his successes in royal tournaments. His natural skill was such that the Cambridge scholar Gabriel Harvey eulogised the young Earl in the presence of the whole court during one of Queen Elizabeth's summer progresses, declaring "thine eyes flash fire, thy countenance shakes spears" and urging him to put his scholarly activities to one side and make a name for himself leading men into battle.

    Richard Nathan: The Harvey line was in Latin. Harvey did not use the English words "Shakes speares." "Shakes speares" is only one of several possible translations into English. On the other hand, we definitely know there was an actor named William Shakespeare.

    Howard Schumann: De Vere was closely involved with the theatre; he held a lease on the Blackfriars Theatre and had his own group of players, The Lord Oxford's Men.

    Richard Nathan: And isn't it odd that Oxford (if he really wrote Shakespeare's works) never gave any of his really good plays to his own company? Why give his best plays to a rival company? How do you explain that?

    Howard Schumann: He was acknowledged by his contemporaries as a poet and praised as a playwright. Although there are only a few poems published in Elizabethan anthologies under the name 'EO', modern scholarship ascribes around twelve known poems to his authorship. Around thirty books were also dedicated to him during his lifetime, there were none to ‘Shake-speare’. He was also the patron of many writers but again, not of ‘Shake-speare’.

    Richard Nathan: What's this supposed to mean? Is everyone to whom a book was dedicated supposed to be a candidate for the authorship of Shakespeare's plays? What do dedications have to do with anything?

    Howard Schumann: The records show Lord Oxford's Men performing in the Boar's Head tavern in Eastcheap (referred to in Henry IV part 1).

    Richard Nathan: But none of the records show Oxford's Men performing any of Shakespeare's plays. And are you claiming only Oxford knew about this popular tavern?   

    Howard Schumann: The records also show that two former servants of Lord Burghley were waylaid by De Vere's men, at Gad's Hill on the highway between Gravesend and Rochester, the very same stretch of road where Falstaff was ambushed by Prince Hal and his men in disguise.

    Richard Nathan: No, not by "Prince Hall and his men in disguise.”   By Hal and Poins.  Hal and one man. And what's that supposed to prove, other than your ignorance of the plays?

    Howard Schumann: The parallels between de Vere's life and events in the plays are too numerous, consistent, complex and intimate to be mere coincidences.

    Richard Nathan: Our brains are wired to look for patterns. Once Oxfordians start looking for parallels to someone's life, they are going to find them. That doesn't mean they were put there as part of some greater plan. In any event, Shakespeare took almost all his plots from pre-existing sources. As Hairy Lime has pointed out, the plot for "All's Well That Ends Well" is taken from the Dacameron. This isn't evidence that Oxford wrote "All's Well," unless you believe he also wrote "The Decameron." In any event, the parallels are mostly in the minds of the Oxfordians, rather than having any basis in reality.

    Howard Shumann: This is particularly true of All's Well That Ends Well and, especially, Hamlet.

    Richard Nathan: The main plotline of "Hamlet" is that Hamlet's father was murdered, and Hamlet seeks revenge. Oxford's father wasn't murdered (although I've seen Oxfordians argue that Oxford's father must have been murdered because Hamlet's father was murdered). Also, the Oxfordians like to claim Burghley's daughter is Helena in "All's Well" and she is also Ophelia in "Hamlet." That makes no sense. The two characters couldn't be less alike, except that they are both low born (which is more evidence that Schumann doesn't know what he is talking about when he demeans the playwright's non-noble characters).

    Howard Schumann: Although dismissive of references which Oxfordians quote, Stratfordians constantly search the plays for personal biographical allusions to Will Shakspere - without success, as they themselves admit.

    Richard Nathan: There are a number of parallels to Shakespeare of Stratford in the plays. For example, according to the standard chronology, the plays move from being about fathers and their sons (written when Shakespeare's father and son were still alive) to being about fathers and their daughters (after Shakespeare's father and son died, and he had only daughters as his heirs). "Hamlet" was written near the time of the death of Shakespeare's father - probably before his death, but quite possibly while his father was sick and dying. This is mere speculation, and by no means evidence of authorship - but it rings as true as any of the Oxfordian arguments. And Shakespeare wrote two plays about twins, and he was the father of twins. There was a list of recusants that included Shakespeare's father, and many of the names on the list are also names that appear in Shakespeare's plays.

    Howard Schumann: There are also parallels between characters and real court personages recognisable at the time and still so today. The most frequently suggested are Burghley as Polonius, Sir Christopher Hatton as Malvolio, Sir Philip Sidney as Boyet and Aguecheek, Queen Elizabeth as Titania, Portia and Olivia. Only a senior nobleman closely associated with the Queen would surely have got away with caricaturing such powerful people.

    Richard Nathan: These are disputed opinions. But if there are parallels (and that's a big IF), it's not as if the common people weren't interested in the lives of the nobility, and never got to hear court gossip. Hamlet says the players are the brief chroniclers of the time - not meaning that the plays were about the court, but that actors who performed at court got to hear court gossip, and they spread it. It's not as if the common folk never talked about the nobles. Is Schumann is making the common anti-Stratfordian claim that the plays contained scandalous and salacious news about what was going on at court - but no one would recognize the scandalous and salacious news unless they knew who the author was? That idea is absurd on its face.

    Howard Schumann: Sigmund Freud, a strong supporter of the view that de Vere was ‘Shake-speare’, believed that no author can completely avoid giving insights into himself in his writings and that the character of Hamlet is his own self portrait. This is supported by writers such as Virginia Woolf, Gustav Flaubert and Edward Albee, and is a matter of common observation. If it were not so, literary biography, in which the writer's life is linked to his or her works would be a waste of time.

    Richard Nathan: Ah yes, Edward Albee, that noted heterosexual, married playwright  who writes so many plays about the relationship between husbands and their wives.

    Howard Schumann: Stratfordians recognize Hamlet as ‘the most autobiographical character’, that is the one in which the author seems to reveal himself most intimately, but they are baffled by the dissimilarity between Hamlet's ‘life’ and that of the Stratford man. Perhaps that is because they are looking at the wrong man."

    Richard Nathan: I think this is probably the most bizarre statement in Schumann's whole post. Perhaps he can give us some quotes from these Stratfordians who say “Hamlet” is the playwright's most autobiographical creation who shares no similarities with the playwright's life.

     

     

     

    Jan 21, 2013
  • alfa-16's picture

    Flattery will get you everywhere, Richard! To be fair, I don't think that an Oxfordian manifesto today would contain quite so many obvious inconsistencies as Howard's and I think Howard himself might want to retract a few bits and pieces. However, if I didn't want to be fair, I might point out that the most ridiculous excesses on imdb all occurred after this manifesto was published.

    Jan 21, 2013
  • Hairy_Lime's picture

    I don't think Howard wrote that.  I am not sure where he pulled it from, but I had seen it before.

    Jan 24, 2013
  • alfa-16's picture

    It looks a bit dated, doesn't it? There isn't anything quite that comprehensive around at the moment. Current Oxfordian methodolgy seems to address the subject in hermetically sealed fragments cf. the upcoming book of The Dating of the Tempest.

    Jan 24, 2013
  • Hairy_Lime's picture

    [quote]"The plays demonstrate a highly educated mind, with a feudal, aristocratic view of society.[/quote]The plays tend to show what you want them to show, because there is something in them for pretty much every point of view.  Richard has already noted the instances which could lead you to the exact opposite conclusion regarding the "feudal, aristocratic view of society", so I'll just point out that the plays do not really demonstrate a "highly educated mind" if by that you mean a formal education.  In fact, the cooments we have from contemporaries indicates that Shakespeare was noted for having a lack of learning; he was a "natural wit".  Instead what the plays demonstrate is an intelligent mind and an insatiable intellectual curiosity.  That has little, then or now, to do with formal education.

    [quote]They are full of detailed references to lordly pastimes and sports and also show a detailed knowledge of the law and of foreign languages.[/quote]Well, the knowledge of the law is hardly detailed, and is not anything like a level I would associate with expertise as a lawyer.  But left unsaid here is the references to things like leather working and hedge trimming, even medicine and the treatment of syphilis.  It does not matter who your "Shakespeare" is, there are large batches of casual knowledge you cannot account for the person having.  The key, again, is the simple intellectual curiosity to ASK and LISTEN TO OTHERS.  That has nothing to do with education.

    [quote]De Vere studied law at Gray's Inn after completing his education at Cambridge. The records of his education, whilst living in the Burghley household, show him to have been equipped to be an outstanding scholar, highly proficient in the classics and French.[/quote]As Richard noted, the evidence that Oxenford studied law is decidedly mixed.  And since Shakespeare was noted by his contemporaries for the absence of classical references, and since Shakespeare's classical sources are pretty limited when compared to someone like Ben Jonson, Oxenford's alleged proficiency in the classics is not that impressive a point.  Anyway, there's nothing in the plays that would be beyond the reach and experience of a Elizabethan grammar school education.

    [quote]If Shakspere of Stratford were the author, he would have been writing for a company of actors and thus providing plays not much in advance of their first performance.[/quote]Which they show every sign of being.  Not only do are character names sometimes switched with the actors playing them, several parts are clearly written with specific actors in mind.  The clown roles most obviously (Kemp left the company around 1599 and under traditional dating the type of clown roles changed at that time), but there was also a stock actor - name escapes me, but he's one who has his name substituted for a character - who specialized in playing thin characters.  The plays show an intimate knowledge of both the company putting the plays on and the theater they were played in. 

    [quote]If they were written by de Vere, the plays would not have been written in such conditions, but rather for private performance at Court, and subsequently revised into their present, literary, form. Indeed, it has been established that two-thirds of all the documented performances of Shakespeare's plays were not in the public theatres but either at Court, the Inns of Court and at Oxford and Cambridge universities. When they were written would have no direct link with when they were first performed or published.[/quote]Uh huh.  The first RECORDED performance.  Because courts kept records.  The King's Men did not.  Nevertheless, who precisely was giving those Court performances?  The theater company Shakespeare was associated with.  Anyway, the plays we have show every sign of being written for public stage, which afforded the opportunity for things like the ghost of Hamlet's father rising from the floor, or a balcony scene, and expansive fighting scenes, that would have been problematic if not impossible if designed for court.

    [quote]The quality of the works and the exquisite workmanship of the poetry as we now have it make it difficult to believe that they were produced under pressure, for immediate performance on a public stage, but rather that they were first drafted out, then refined and perfected over a period of years, probably away from the pressures of production or publication.[/quote]First, I suggest rereading the plays.  Ben Jonson's unkind comment, "would he had blotted out a thousand" is not wide of the mark.  Second, the idea of redrafting and rewritting for publication is belied by roughly everything we know about Elizabethan publishing and drama.  Most of the publications of plays prior to Shakespeare were anonymous and, by all indications, unauthorized.  There is no indication of English language plays being considered literary until well after Oxenford's death, when Jonson included plays among his poetic works. Rewriting the plays for publication, or anything except public performance, would not have been a labor that would have occurred to an Elizabethan. 

    [quote]There are shadowy references to Court plays (by de Vere?) put on in the 1570s which could be early versions of plays which subsequently appeared as Shakespeare's.[/quote]Well, at least we get the question mark and the could be.  There is little evidence supporting the first and no evidence at all for the second statement.

    [quote]It is widely recognised that this translation of Ovid had a major influence on ‘Shakespeare’. Could this work have been a collaborative achievement by uncle and nephew?[/quote]In much the same sense that night fall "could" be the result of the release of "dirty air" and if we could just wash the sky we would have 24 hours of sunshine.  Or rather, there is no evidence whatsoever that Oxenford translated Ovid.

    [quote]Soon after the name ‘Shake-speare’ appeared in print for the first time, no new poems were published in the anthologies of the day either under de Vere's own name or the more common EO (standing for Edward Oxenford which was how he wrote his signature). [/quote]I could be wrong, but weren't the only poems of Oxenford's to be published put out in the 1570's?  How is that "soon after" 1593, when Shakespeare's name appeared on Venus and Adonis?

    [quote]These poems have some similarities in vocabulary, imagery and form to the Shakespeare poems but, as works written in his teens and early twenties, they are clearly works of juvenilia and lack the maturity of style of the Shakespeare poems.[/quote]They have surface linguistic similarities that are shared by a remarkable number of poems by a remarkable number of poets.  There is no reason to believe these similarities were anything other than widely shared linguistic tropes.  I'd advise a reading of [i]Shakespeare's Fingerprints[/i] - or perhaps a review of it, which was all I could stomach - to see where this type of argument ends.

    And there is little similarity in forms between Shakespeare and Oxenford.  Oxenford's sole sonnet was not a Shakespearean sonnet, but an echo sonnet.  Oxenfordians like to claim it is a Shakespearean sonnet "if you remove the echo" which is a little like saying your Uncle is your aunt "if you remove the testicles."  Anyway, the sonnet form we now refer to as Shakespearean is older than either Oxenford or Shakespeare, and was one of the more common sonnet forms of the day.  Oxenford wrote nothing in either blank verse, (Shakespeare's most common verse form), heroic couplets, (his second most common), rhyme royal, (Rape and Lover's Complaint), seven syllable meter (most of the songs in the plays).  The forms Oxenford liked to use, Poulter's Measure and Fourteeners, which Shakespeare used primarily for humorous purposes.  This does not mean, of course, that a poet cannot change their preferred verse style.  But the claim howard is mnaking is that the styles as used by the two are similar, and they are not.  There are some common forms, that run across Elizabethan literature (V&A was a very common meter; both used it.  Both used iambic pentameter) but the forms in general are not really close.

    [quote]Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were published in 1593 and 1594 and were the first works to be published under the name ‘Shake-speare’.[/quote]No. "Shakespeare".  And given that the first two appearances of the "Shakespeare" name were on poems, and Oxenford was already a known poet, precisely why did he need the pen name at this time?  Because they got good?

    [quote]These two narrative poems were both dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. Based on the fact that the Earl of Southampton was, for a time, being considered as a suitor for the hand of Edward de Vere's eldest daughter Elizabeth, a strong case can be made that the Earls of Southampton and Oxford were well acqainted. It is also well known that Edward de Vere's son and heir, Henry de Vere, was a firm friend of Southampton - there is even a double portrait of the two men mounted on chargers.[/quote]Oh, I had such fun with tinker on this, before I got him to briefly admit that there was no evidence that Oxenford and Southhampton had even met before Oxenford served as a juror in Southhampton's treason trial.  Despite leading well-documented lives, it's the only time we know the two were ever in the same room together.

    The Sonnets
    [quote]The 154 Sonnets themselves are recognized as the most intimately biographical works in the canon and they depict an older, lame aristocrat who is in some sort of disgrace.[/quote]I think "recognized as the most initmately biographical works" is a bit of a stretch.  Certainly, some think of them that way.  But there is nothing to make anyone think that they represent a type of one to one correspondence with real life, so that matters discussed in the sonnets can be used to prove authorship, or, in Stratfordian hands, prove biography.  There is no reason to believe any specific reference in the sonnets are autobiographical.  There's no reason to believe the various contradictory guises - after all, unremarked by the Oxenfraudians is that the sonnets also depict a man who will have a common grave and is barred by fortune from proud titles - adopted in the sonnets are anything other than just that: guises mounted by the author to give rhetorical life to his passions.  Shakespeare no more had to be old to write the Sonnets than Eliot did to write Prufrock - which he began writing when he was much younger than Shakespeare was in the putative time of the sonnets.

    And by the way, in addition to the poor name and common grave, the sonnets specifically say the author's name is Will, and pun on the name of Anne Hathaway.  The whole "it's Oxenford's autobiography!" argument is nothing but wishful thinking; pulling out parts of an immense body of work and labeling those that correspond to your guy as "autobiographical" - while ignoring everything else, which has [b]precisely as much claim to autobiography as the parts Oxenfordians cite.[/b]  The approach to the authorship question is fundamentally invalid, because it makes a series of assumptions that there is no independent basis for: that ANYTHING in the works is specifically autobiographical - as opposed to drawn from observation of life, which is not the same thing - that we can tell what things are autobiographical and what is not, that what we assume is autobiographical means what we think it means.  That's junk, that's wishful thinking masquerading as evidence, that's imposing order on chaos.  I am sometimes asked how I can refuse to read new Oxenfordian works - the last I read was Price's book, granted not specifically Oxenfordian - and the answer is simple: so long as they build their house on the same rotten foundation, there's no need to.

    [quote]If these were fictional characters, there would have been no reason not to give them names, but none of them is named. [/quote]Not necessarily fictional characters, but fictional constructs.  But why the fair youth, dark lady and rival poet are not given names has no necessary connection with whether or not there are real people behind them.  After all, there were real person models for Astrophil and Stella (and nothing of a literal autobiography in that cycle, by the way) and they were named.  Either way, Shakespeare could have given the three names, but chose not to.  I think it makes them more universal, though I do not know why he did it.

    [quote]Also, the title, ‘Shake-speares Sonnets’ (not Sonnets, by Shakespeare), ... suggest that the author had already died by 1609.[/quote]No, it does not.  Living authors being named first was common in Elizabethan England.  Greenes farewell to folly, Churchyards farewell, dozens of others.

    As for the 'everliving poet" bit, I dealt with that earlier, at least in terms of noting that the sonnets were dedicated to "W.H." not the "everliving poet".  But I should also note that the best and most likely meaning behind "everliving poet" is a rhetorical invocation of God.  After all, what the dedication says about the everliving poet is that he promises eternity.  Quite a claim for any man.  People have become fuel for marshmallow roasts for less.

    [quote]Perhaps most relevant are those sonnets in which the author says, “My name be buried where my body is,” and “Your name from hence immortal life shall have, / Though I, once gone, to all the world must die: / The earth can yield me but a common grave, / When you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie.” (72 and 81) In these sonnets, the author himself says that he neither wants, nor expects, his name to be remembered. Authorship doubters contend that this is, in fact, what has happened. The orthodox claim they are fictional. Doubters find this absurd. How is it even possible that the author's name would not be remembered, unless it was not yet known? [/quote]Rhetorical debasement of the author and the glorification of the beloved.  What's so hard about that?  It's only if you make the unwarranted assumption that those specific lines must be literally autobiographic that you encounter any kind of interpretive problem at all.
    What the Plays Reveal

    [quote]Fourteen of the plays have Italian settings and demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the country beyond pure book knowledge. So detailed is the knowledge that ‘blunders’ about geography are now being shown to be correct. [/quote]That Oxenfruadians have mounted arguments against Shakespeare's geographical blunders is not the same thing as their being "shown to be correct."  There is no way to account for the removal of Prospero from Milan, as set out in [i]The Tempest[/i] under any facts of geography.  Prospero is hustled out of Milan in a bark - a three masted schooner.  That's not getting down any canal or river.  And that bark sets out to sea [b]containing another, albeit wrecked, boat[/b].  That is simply not happening from a city like Milan. Likewise, in Two Gentlemen of Verona, the characters specifically speak of a ship, not a barge.  And to travel from Verona in that play required them to wait on the tide.  Irrelevant to a canal trip.  Not to mention, irrelevant to the Adriatic anyway, since it is tideless.

    And despite the fun we had with the desert of the Boi earlier, there is no basis for the belief that Shakespeare's Bohemian coast was anything other than a totally fictional construct from someone who really did not care for geographical accuracy.

    [quote]De Vere spent the best part of a year travelling in Italy in 1575. He was satirised as 'The Italian Earl' on his return to England.[/quote]Never wanted to go back, either, according to the letter he wrote Burghley.  And there is no reason to believe Harvey was satirizing Oxenford, specifically.  He was not the only Earl to travel to Italy or to don Italian customs in England.

    [quote]It is ‘Shake-speare's’ lower-order characters which are unconvincing.[/quote]Richard dealt with this already.  I'll just note a couple of things.  First, that the idea of Shakespeare's lower orders as unconvincing is at odds with my reading.  I'll take Bottom, comic foil though he be, over any of the noble lovers in [i]Midsummer Night's Dream[/i].  And the whole Eastcheap crew.  Second, Shakespeare would hardly be the first person to idolize a class higher than his own and treat his roots with some loathing.  And not the last.  Even if his roots were higher than the examples you cite.

    [quote]De Vere was closely involved with the theatre; he held a lease on the Blackfriars Theatre and had his own group of players, The Lord Oxford's Men. He was acknowledged by his contemporaries as a poet and praised as a playwright. Although there are only a few poems published in Elizabethan anthologies under the name 'EO', modern scholarship ascribes around twelve known poems to his authorship. Around thirty books were also dedicated to him during his lifetime, there were none to ‘Shake-speare’. He was also the patron of many writers but again, not of ‘Shake-speare’.[/quote]Well, people dedicated books to patrons in the hope of getting money from them, or to repay for similar earlier treatment.  Why the Hell would anyone dedicate books to Shakespeare?  Oxenford was named with some frequency on title pages, but so were numerous other nobles for whom no claim of any authorship was ever made.

    And yes, Oxenford was known by contemporaries to be a poet.  Which makes the whole pen name thing a bit of an exercise in barn door locking after the horse has leftishness.  Especially when you factor in Meres who also knew and revealed that Oxenford was a playwright - though not Shakespeare, who he treats separately.
    Parallels in the plays

    [quote]The parallels between de Vere's life and events in the plays are too numerous, consistent, complex and intimate to be mere coincidences. This is particularly true of All's Well That Ends Well and, especially, Hamlet.[/quote]The parallels found by Oxenfraudians in All's Well and Hamlet exist in the prior source material, or are fairly typical stage business - like the bed trick - and much of those supposed parallels are based on rereading facts to fit the found biography - like the bed trick.  Anyway, If parallels to [i]Hamlet[/i] identify the author, [i]Hamlet[/i] was written by James I.  Or perhaps Essex, who has some biographical coincidences with other parts of the canon as well.

    And again, to repeat - there is no reason to believe any work is "autobiographical" in the sense Oxenfraudians mean it.  [i]Richard III[/i] has as much claim to biography as[i] Hamlet[/i], and you don't see people looking for Elizabethans who hired others to drown their brothers in wine.  The character of Iago as much claim to being a mask for the real author as the Great Dane, and you don't have people looking thence for biographical reference..

    [quote]Although dismissive of references which Oxfordians quote, Stratfordians constantly search the plays for personal biographical allusions to Will Shakspere - without success, as they themselves admit.[/quote]As a general rule, when Oxenfraudians say Stratfordians do or think something, it is at best a stretch.  There is a rack of books by orthodox scholars making the shelves of your local library groan from their weight that shows the exact opposite.

    [quote]Only a senior nobleman closely associated with the Queen would surely have got away with caricaturing such powerful people.[/quote]No, he wouldn't have.  First, Oxenford was not all that closely associated with the Queen.  Second, censorship of plays presented for the theater - as the plays you cite were - were licensed.  Do you believe the censor was in on the scam as well?  Anyway, the point of censorship is to prevent material from being known.  It does not depend on who the speaker was.  If those characters were recognized as satire of prominent person, those plays would not have gotten through to the people, regardless of who wrote them.  Finally, Nobles who incurred royal displeasure got Towered.

    [quote]Sigmund Freud, a strong supporter of the view that de Vere was ‘Shake-speare’, believed that no author can completely avoid giving insights into himself in his writings and that the character of Hamlet is his own self portrait. [/quote]Well, the first part of that may have some truth.  I disagree that anyone can tell with any degree of confidence what those insights are, and those insights are more liely to be interior reflections than outward biography.  But as to Hamlet being a self portrait, there's no reason to think so, particularly.  Hamlet is considered the most complex character, and the one that grabs the imagination, but that does not mean that Hamlet is any more a direct reflection of Shakespeare than Humbert Humbert is a direct reflection of Nabokov.

    See, this is the inherent problem with Oxenfraudians: they have no conception of how imagination works.  Experience, recall, memory, verbal dexterity; it all gets mixed up in the creative mind and comes tumbling out.  Trying to sort direct personal reference is futile.  It is at best guess work.

    [quote]This is supported by writers such as Virginia Woolf, Gustav Flaubert and Edward Albee, and is a matter of common observation. If it were not so, literary biography, in which the writer's life is linked to his or her works would be a waste of time.[/quote]Finally, something we agree on.  Or rather, a speculative exercise that can sometimes give you a fresh insight into a work, but which is always mere speculation.

    Jan 24, 2013
  • alfa-16's picture

    Sadly no. Welcome to the wonderful 20C world of PHP.

    Jan 24, 2013