• Redating the Tempest 2.

    An Anti-Stratfordian Tour de Farce

    Although an intensely irritating waste of paper, despite appearances, there is a purpose in this type of publication.

    Books like these are published to be reviewed here. To be cited in internet discussion. When they find themselves unable to explain why The Tempest is associated with Hallowmas rather than Shrovetide, these books provide Oxfordians with an out. "Have you read my book on The Tempest" they will say. Or "Have you read Stritmatter and Kositsky's book on The Tempest?" It's usually said with a patronising snort, implying both that the matter has been dealt with definitively and whoever they are arguing with is poorly read on the subject.

    In other words, the book is intended to be cited for what it set out to achieve, rather than what it actually says.

    It actually says very little.
    The attempt to claim it as an earlier play, The Tragedy of Spanish Maze, is utterly unconvincing. The Tempest isn't a tragedy, it has no connections to Spain and it's not about a maze. Three strikes in just the five words of the title. It IS, however, the only unattributed play which serves their purpose of pretending that they have discovered a hitherto unknown performance of The Tempest which conveniently occurred closer to the lifetime of the Earl of Oxford.

    The shrovetide connections which follow do not work at all and I have yet to understand what the chapter on the actual location of Propero's Island is doing in there. Perhaps to support the the invention of imaginary schools of critical thought - the so-called 'Mediterranean' and 'American' readings - with which the authors can take issue and claim to have defeated in a sort of complex straw man argument. And why, when proposing an actual location for The Tempest's remote and uninhabited island, do Oxfordians always choose islands that are large, populous and within permanent sight of the mainland, like Isola Vulcano or in the middle of a hugely busy shipping lane, like Lampedusa? Especially as neither can be connected to the Earl any more than they can to Shakespeare.

    The longest and dullest argument in the book concerns the exact date at which Will may or may not have seen a letter from William Strachey with its news of things going wrong in Virginia. The authors spend the first part of the book dissecting the dates and provenance of this article as if this were enough to disprove the conventional dating by itself. Will could just as easily have used John Donne's The Storm as a first-hand source of sea-going peril, yet neither of the authors appear to even know that poem exists.

    The whole of the second half of the book is taken up trying to repair the damage that Stratfordian rebuttals inflicted the first time they tried to dislodge The Tempest using their contentions about the Strachey letter. Their Jamestown chronology was roundly criticised in articles and its champions lost the online debate. They say:-

    "This section is directed more towards the specialist reader who wants to situate the present debate over the origins and chronology of the Tempest in a wider historical framework, or to understand the flaws that permeate recent attempts to recuperate the declining orthodox paradigm"

    'L'esprit d'escalier', Diderot called it. Thinking on the staircase of things one might have said in the drawing room.

    It's full of indigestible, self-justifying sophistry and intrusive yet totally unwarranted triumphalism like the above example from the introduction. Declining orthodox paradigm indeed! It is, of course, totally unreadable. It's like watching Lenny Bruce nitpicking court transcripts to empty theatres at the end of his career. No sane person could possibly be interested.

    The book is wholly dishonest in its purpose.

    The Earl of Oxford is mentioned just once yet almost every line is vitiated by the presence of the authors' support for his candidacy.

    It fails in its open objectives by failing to dislodge The Tempest from its very secure moorings at the end of Shakespeare's career. And the hidden agenda also fails as it does not advance the Earl's case by a single nanometre.


    Roger A. Stritmatter & Lynne Kositsky
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    Comments (7)

    • anon

      Stritmatter and Kositsky do have some very odd gaps in their knowledge. They seem to think that John G. Demaray invented the term "spectacles of strangeness." Which means they haven't read his primary source: Ben Jonson's preface to his Masque of Queenes (1609), the foundation text on the invention of the anti-masque. And since Demaray himself quotes Jonson in his explication of the phrase, they probably haven't read *him* any too closely either.

      Maybe this isn't mere ignorance but avoidance? Is it that ominous date 1609 that spooks them? In one of the feeblest chapters of their book, they flail about, trying to assert that Chapman, Jonson, and Marston's Eastward Ho! (1605) parodies The Tempest. (The word "pageant" appears in both. Wow.) But they ignore Ben Jonson's perfectly frank sniping in 1614 at the recent craze for "Tales, Tempests, and such like Drolleries." This was topical snark: both plays had been pretty recently performed at court, on 1 and 5 November 1611, and The Winter's Tale reprised in the winter of 1612. 

      Note "Tales, Tempests": it's the *genre* he dislikes, the whole fashion for romance and the fantastic. Jonson, like nearly everyone else ever since, recognized the plays as two of a kind, as magical. (He himself was "loath to make Nature afraid in his Plays.") With Cymbeline. and Shakespeare's work in Pericles, they share a distinctive poetic style unlike anything Elizabethan. With other Jacobean plays and masques, they draw on new developments in theatre: on candlelight (and the structure imposed by it), on "still music" and stage machinery. They borrow each other's bears and satyrs.

      Of course, S&K take care never to look at The Tempest in its proper company. If they admitted the Late Romances, they would have to consider the Jacobean world they were written for. They'd rather dodge. Which is why their great brick of sophistry and bombast is so strangely incoherent. The authors are looking not at context but for loopholes.


      Nov 04, 2013
    • anon

      Howdy alfa2^4

      Couple of FYIs:


      1. "Stritmatter and Kositsky in SY", Shakespeare Matters Fall 2010, pp. 25-6 http://shakespearefellowship.org//wp-content/uploads/2013/08/SM9.3.pdf : S&K's Shrovetide essay was accepted for publication in Shakespeare Yearbook but "The article was previously submitted to another leading Shakespearean journal, but was rejected by editors who claimed that “The Shrovetide connections that you do include do not seem particularly telling to us, but rather more generic...The result is that The Tempest does not seem altered or transformed by your reading in a way persuasive to us."


      2. Peter R. Moore, "The Abysm of Time: The Chronology of Shakespeare's Plays", The Elizabethan Review Autumn 1997, pp. 24-60: "Bermuda is cited as a place of many shipwrecks in Walter Raleigh's 1591 pamphlet about the last voyage of the 'Revenge'. Donne's 1597 poem, 'The Storme' includes this couplet: 'Compar'd to these stormes, death is but a qualme, / Hell somewhat lightsome, and the Bermuda calme.' Fulke Greville's Sonnet 59, probably written in the early 1580s, makes a similar comment on Bermuda." (pp.51-52)


      Best wishes,



      P.S. Please thank Sicinius for me for his very sweet note :) Am officially gone from the SAQ (I don't like team sports unless there's a ball involved and I'm not seeing Shakespeare's globe qualifies as one) but am keen on maintaining my troublemaking status. Enjoy!!

      Nov 30, 2013
    • anon

      Phew!! Be happy.


      And thanks for the above.

      Dec 01, 2013
    • anon

      :) Thank you alfa!! And, you're very welcome!


      Two more for ya:


      1. Peter R. Moore "The Dates of Shakespeare's Plays" (1991) http://www.shakespeare-oxford.com/?p=101

      Based on Muir's Sources of Shakespeare's Plays, only 5 of 112 sources used by Shakespeare were published 1605-1611.


      2. Peter Moore "The Tempest and the Bermuda Shipwreck of 1609" (1996) http://www.shakespeare-oxford.com/?p=103

      I came to the same conclusion Moore did about how well Apostle Paul's tempest/shipwreck in Acts 27-28 fits Shax. There is also a map (IIRC it's after the Acts chapter) in the 1560 Geneva Bible which shows Crete as "Haven Phenix". I don't know if anyone else has noticed this before but with Eliz known as the phoenix and James' coronation representing the rising phoenix, I find it to be another one of those pesky, yet interesting, "coincidences".


      Keep up the good work!




      BTW... I am enjoying my Barbie de Vere immensely!! It's quite funny watching him and Elf on the Shelf check out each other's booty.

      Dec 01, 2013
    • anon

      Hi alfa,

      Opinion please regarding Hugh Broughton and his mention of not only “twelve yeres agoe” but also “Wintonia have but a sack full of wind, which Aeolus gave to Ulisses, when his fellowes thought it full of a great treasure, and forced him to open it, and so by tempest drowned themselves” [per ‘The Aut[h]our to the Reader’ section of his 1610 *Revelation of the Holy Apocalyps*].


      Just seems interesting to me that Jonson referred to (or rather slammed) Broughton in his *Alchemist*, and that Alchemist and Tempest have some sort of "relationship".


      Also funny that the ‘Tempests’ are supposedly one of England’s oldest Catholic landed gentry families and that apparently, they’ve owned an estate named ‘Broughton’ since 1407.


      hmm... Wuz up with all these coincidences dude???

      Jan 24, 2014
    • anon

      And there's that 1610 date again.


      Tempest was also the last variant of the famous Hawker Typhoon series. If you've seen Saving Private Ryan, the tankbusting aircraft at the end would have been an RAF Typhoon (too early for a Tempest - there's always a dating problem with Tempests) but Spielberg loves his P-51's and heaven forfend that a British unit appear in an American film about D-Day! Ground units used to break cover to watch the fireworks as Typhoons attacked German armour. They would attack the first and last vehicles of a convoy then call more aircraft from what was known as the 'cab rank' to destroy the vehicles trapped in Normandy's sunken lanes between the incapacitated front and back markers.

      And then there was Troy Tempest, the captain of Gerry Anderson's StingRay.


      Funny how NONE of them have anything to do with you know who.

      Jan 24, 2014
    • anon

      Yep, that 1610 thang keeps a-poppin' fresh.



      So how about when Gonzalo sez: “Had I plantation of this isle, my lord,--” (Tempest II, i, 143)


      Per Wikipedia, the official plantation of Ulster began in 1609 under James I who wanted the Plantation to be "a civilizing enterprise" that would settle Protestants in Ulster, a land that was mainly Gaelic-speaking and of the Catholic faith. Legal titles of all native landowners in the province were expropriated in order to prepare to colonize the province with mainly Scots and Englanders.


      Prospero takes over Caliban’s land with its strange voices and its seeming location in Catholic purgatory.


      I know wuz up. Tempest keeps dating closer and closer to 1610. Strachey may have used a prior source(s), but where’s the reason that Shax could not be influenced by Strachey. His letter was certainly big news at that time.

      Jan 24, 2014