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Logan Pearsall Smith

Hit. Nail. Head.

On Reading Shakespeare

In one of his letters Henry James describes how ignobly fond he had become as he grew older of not travelling ; ‘to keep up not doing it’ he writes, ‘is in itself for me the most thrilling of adventures.’

So not to read Shakespeare, not to travel into his kingdom, but to sneak up at night towards the barriers that guard its frontier, and lurk there, terrified by the thought of the dangers I might encounter if I did really enter in, has become for me also a thrilling if not very noble adventure.

No No Vulcano

Isola Vulcano was, until recently, the Oxfordian’s location of choice for Prospero’s Island.

Not much can really be concluded from isolating the actual location but Oxfordians think it’s important to tie locations to the Earl’s Italian itinerary as they suffer from the delusion that no one can describe a place they haven’t actually visted. To illustrate this, they try to look for accurate geographic details only a real visitor would have noticed.

Painful Pericles

The Painful Predicament of Pericles (for Oxfordians)

Pericles is often seen as the runt of Shakespeare's litter.

Although apparently popular with contemporary audiences, for reasons unknown it was not deemed worthy of a reprint in the First Folio and exists only in a textually flawed Quarto version, to which editors have often been forced to interpolate material from other sources to try and arrive at a cohesive whole.

Perhaps one reason for its poor reputation is the fact that it is almost certainly beyond doubt a collaborative work. In 1709 Nicholas Rowe wrote that "there is good Reason to believe that the greatest part of that Play was not written by him; tho' it is own'd, some part of it certainly was, particularly the last Act". Of all the possible collaborators; the most convincing (indeed probably the only convincing) candidate is George Willkins whose own novel "The Painful Adventures of Pericles" was published in 1608 claims to have been based on the play.

Writing on the Wall

One of the features of a number of martial arts is that they rely, not on ones own strength but on turning one's opponents strength against them.

Similarly, it is always a pleasure when one can turn anti-Stratfordian arguments against them. 

It is a matter of faith among anti-Strats that the surviving signatures of Shakespeare somehow prove he was not a writer. "Look at that indistinct scrawl" they call out. "How could such a man possibly be a great writer". 

writing

The possibilities that the signatures are in secretary hand which differs from modern notions of what good handwriting looks like, or that one would put less care into scrawling a signature as a legal formality as one would to writing a play manuscript for performance or that the surviving signatures are from a later period of Shakespeare's life when for all anyone knows, he could have been suffering from a degenerative illness or even that handwriting (as any sufferer from Dyslexia or Dyspraxia would tell you) has any bearing on artistic ability are all to be discounted as mere speculation. Oxfordians don't find the handwriting aesthetically pleasing, therefore Shakespeare didn't write the plays

Exit, pursued by a bear

In the English theatre, 1610-1611 was the Year of the Bear.

As this tale is a late romance, it begins with an earlier tragedy. In Purchas his Pilgrimes, a mariner called Jonas Poole recounts his seventh voyage to the Arctic.  On 30 May 1609, he writes:

“We slue 26 Seales, and espied three white 
Bears; wee went aboord for Shot and Powder,
and coming to the Ice againe, we found 
a shee-Beare and two young ones: Master 
Thomas Welden shot and killed her; after 
shee was slayne, wee got the young ones, and 
brought them home into England, where 
they are alive in Paris Garden.” 

Poor babies.  Orphaned, ill-used, bewildered, stifled with the torrid heat of London, “cabined, cribbed, confined.”

Prince Tudor and the Sonnets

A Factual Desert. Biographical and autobiographical readings of Shakespeare’s sonnets feature on both sides of the authorship debate.

Oxford Prince Tudor TheoryIn order to give meaning beyond a literal reading, a narrative is sought. Since the only named person in the sonnets is Will, with the possible additions of Penelope Rich and Anne Hathaway through the use of punning, any narrative relies upon linking a contextual history to the poems, and postulating why such conjecture is true.   


The search for explanatory power, enlightening the reader, has taken many forms. But none took place at the time the sonnets were published. Why could this be?

Canon Fodder

The smoking gun, proving who did and who didn’t write Shakespeare, has been found in the hand of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.

Edwards Extinguisher

Is that an authorship candidate who just bit the dust? 

Ironically, it is de Vere himself who administers the fatal shot to Oxfordian claims he was the secret and hidden true author.

Exclusive use of the transcripts of de Vere’s original letters, without adding any extraneous words, proves beyond doubt that:- 

  • He was aware of his own literary ineptitude
  • He admired and respected superior talent
  • He received help from a better educated and successful writer
  • He couldn’t afford to pay for the lessons1 but wanted more
  • He confirms recognition of his mentor’s achievement
  • He defended his idol against slurs and invented the secret code which identifies him

Handy Hand D

Hand D, the fragment of lost play Sir Thomas More, thought to be in Shakespeare's handwriting, is in the news again.

Hand D

Professor Douglas Bruster, of the University of Austen, Texas, has joined Brian Vickers in claiming that a series of additions to Thomas Kyd's Spanish Tragedy are attributable to Will. Rather than using stylometrical data as Vickers did, Professor Bruster is basing his analysis on the more traditional characteristic idiosyncrasies, which have been used by Will's editors to improve texts over hundreds of years to eliminate inconsistencies caused by errors in transcription or production in the First Folio and surviving Quarto texts.

To simultaneously spoil the Oxfordian day, in his paper, Mr. Bruster identifies 24 broad spelling patterns — including shortened past tenses (like “blest” for “blessed”) and single medial consonants (like “sorow” instead of “sorrow”) — that occur both in the Additional Passages of The Spanish Tragedy, for which no known manuscript survives, and the Shakespeare handwriting sample in the British Library. He also cites nine textual “corruptions” (like “creuie” instead of “creuic,” modernized as “crevice”) that he believes can be explained as misreadings of Shakespeare’s handwriting.

Time and Tide

Alexander Waugh returns forcefully to the subject of sailing to Verona.

In the latest rearrangement of Shakespeare Authorship Coalition Essays, published in response to Shakespeare Beyond Doubt he says:

"One has only to check the definitions of 'road,' 'tide' and 'shipped' in the Oxford English Dictionary to see that none of them applies exclusively to the sea. Shakespeare, moreover, signals to his audience that Valentine's journey is not to be taken by sea, but by river and, just in case of any lingering doubt, he has Panthino explain that by lose the tide...' I mean thou'lt lose the flood, and in losing the flood, lose thy voyage.' The 'flood' thereby refers to the timed rising of the water in the locks, which in the case of boats traveling from Verona to Milan, were located on the fossi that linked the rivers Adige, Tartaro and Po. It is now known precisely where those canal links were situated. Some of them are still in use today. All are well documented. Only in the rarefied world of Stratfordian academia is their existence still petulantly denied."

Unequivocal

Fuseli2Macbeth is a Jacobean play, through and through.

It celebrates the accession of James VI & I, and his descent through a true line of  Scottish kings, foreseen to “stretch out to the crack of doom.” In the vision summoned by the witches to appall Macbeth, the distant heirs of Banquo carry “treble scepters”:  emblems of the kingship of England, Ireland, and Scotland.  Elizabeth I did not rule Scotland; her rival Mary, James’s mother did.  He sought the union of his realms.

Macbeth alludes to the policies and slogans of his reign:  Concord, Peace, and Unity.  Malcolm feigningly protests that he would “pour the sweet milk of concord into hell, /Uproar the universal peace, confound / All unity on earth.”

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