Can Shakespeare’s true identity be worth all the effort that has been expended on supporting all the different candidates in the authorship debate?
Well, you might as well ask why does anything matter? Does the difference between truth and nonsense actually matter? Or could there be good reasons for not turning history into a parlour game where baseless guesses and wild surmise have the same validity as good, solid, provable, factual evidence.
I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll b-b-b-blow your house in!
On the Date, Sources and Design of Shakespeare's The Tempest
Roger A. Stritmatter & Lynne Kositsky
This book is not about The Tempest. Not a word of it. It’s all about Stritmatter and Kositsky’s desperate need to claim the great prize of its authorship for the god of their idolatry: a tragic, unacknowledged genius whose apotheosis their book will bring about. His name? Roger Stritmatter, Lord of Coppin.
Oops! Sorry. Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.
Whose name is demurely absent from their text, save once. Not in their own words but in Gail Kern Paster’s: which are by far the best thing in the book:
For well-schooled professionals ... the authorship question ranks as bardolatry inverted, bardolatry for paranoids, with one object of false worship (Shakespeare) replaced by another (Marlowe, Bacon, Edward de Vere). To ask me about the authorship question, as I’ve remarked on more than one occasion, is like asking a paleontologist to debate a creationist’s account of the fossil record.... For much worse than professional disclaimers of interest in Shakespeare’s life is the ugly social denial at the heart of the Oxfordian pursuit ... a ferociously snobbish and ultimately anachronistic celebration of birthright privilege.
While flicking through my pictures of the Mid-West, I came across the bright colours you see here on a very dull day. In Mitchell, South Dakota, there is a palace built of corn cobs. A large temple with ornate freizes done in coloured cobs of corn, a sort of Parthenon of the Plains.
It's a perfect analogy for Oxfordian ideas on the chronology of the plays. Their attempts to create a consistent, overall chronology seem like those of architects and builders trying to construct a cathedral out of Weetabix. However magnificent the structure looks on a sunny Oxfordian day, one good shower will turn the whole lot into mush.
When new scholarship activity nears the Shakespearean quayside, the leaky Oxfordian tugboats mass together and bleakly chug out into the tide making as much smoke as they can. A recent article in The Guardian on Florio and his possible editing of the First Folio threatened the Oxfordian fiction that the plays were in the care of William Herbert until they were published. Maximum smoke! Another, in the New York Times, on the similarities between Hand D and additions to Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy triggered yet more frantic smoke generation. Shakespeareans don't insist (yet!)* that the fragment of a lost play, Sir Thomas More, is an original sample of Will's handwriting, but it is absolutely crucial that Oxfordians are able to maintain that it is not.
Here's politicworm, the source of all Oxfordian orthodoxy, laying down the Oxfordian law on the subject of The Spanish Tragedy and its additions.
Some of us at Oxfraud are old hands at the Authorship Question, able to judge and anticipate the opposition's every move.
Others like myself, are relative newcomers, goaded into action by the nonsense surrounding the film, Anonymous, full of callow enthusiasms and insights that turn out to be commonplaces.
A key feature of the Oxfordian case lies in the cryptic interpretation of Ben Jonson's phrasing of the Preface to the First Folio. Ben is a master of the sideways, slanting, cryptic insult, so this is not, on the face of it, the usual daft codes and ciphers nonsense.
Oxford as a brilliant writer is a construct, all made up of fantasy and theft. “What he hath left us” is a dismal little heap of slag. So then his cultists must appropriate the words of Shakespeare as a counterfeit. They must excuse their hero’s own sad plodding poetry as juvenilia—while at the same time arguing unparalleled prodigious genius. He translated Ovid in the nursery, they believe—and no one spoke of it. The supernova blazed and vanished. But Oxford’s precocity, like Marina’s whorishness, is all in the beholder’s eye:
Did you go to ’t so young? Were you a gamester at five or at seven?
Earlier too, sir, if now I be one.
If dalliance with muses is unchastity, then Oxford died a virgin, slightly snogged.
Here on the Oxfraud University Campus, as temperatures rise and the holidays begin, the deadline for another of our internationally famous, rollover scholarships heaves into view.
The excitement over the 2013 Magellan Medal, awarded for proving that 16c Italians liked to sail from Verona to Milan has come and gone and the now gigantic prize lies unclaimed for the 33rd year. The rollover total stands at a whopping $123.48.
Once again, this year saw no completely convincing submission but we have decided to grant a Merit Award to Wilhemina St Boniface whose idea that you could use a space sail, the gravitational pull of the moon AND the canals on Mars is one of the best so far submitted. Lucky Wilhemina wins the Complete Works of Roger Stritmatter.
Hours, weeks, even months have been spent arguing about Proteus and Portia's route-planning and what its accuracy or inaccuracy reveals. The first thing to say is that above all the geographical explanations, there exists the overarching possibility that Will had only vague ideas of the exact layout and governance of the Veneto and didn't really give a toss whether he was being accurate or not.
Time and distance are both often ruthlessly compressed in Will's work, like an artist's perspective on a broad landscape. To get to Belmont and back for his suit, Bassanio needed Shylock's money for three months. How does this time actually elapse in the play? Not on a journey to Belmont and back, that's for sure. How much more likely is it that Will fiddled with his source material without giving much thought to where Belmont was or how long it would take to get there? The three months were what we would now call 'virtual months' or 'stage months'.
The distance used by Oxfordians, headed by Magri and Roe, to uncover the location of Belmont is twenty miles.
Twenty miles is a virtual distance, which chimes with all the other uses of 'twenty' by Portia and her Belmont chums.