Skip to main content

The Golding Variations

The myth of Oxford as a child prodigy and polymath is utterly unfounded. The film has him writing A Midsummer Night's Dream at about age ten, at a time when the real Lord Bolbec (as he then was) was probably still wetting his bed of state and setting fire to cats. Other theorists ascribe to the infant Apollo his Uncle Golding's translation of the Metamorphoses, and Beowulf. 

Ovid's AmoresOxfordians don't appear to notice the inconsistency of explaining Oxford's terrible early verse as juvenilia while also ascribing him the status of childhood genius and attributing masterful verse to his young hand.

It would be tremendously handy if they could credit Oxford with having translated Ovid's Metamorphoses instead of his older uncle, Arthur Golding. Ovid is an important influence on early and late Shakespeare, so connecting Oxford with Golding's translation would nail another connection to the mast.

The temptation is simply irresistible. It is, after all, only a bit of basic conclusion-leaping.  No greater stretch of the imagination than claiming that the sophisticated adult sexual fantasy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, was written by a 10 year old. 

Golding published the first four books in 1565 and typesetting and prep took ages back then. Oxford must have been very young indeed to have made any contribution.

The three fallacious strands of fantasy supporting this argument are typical of the way Oxfordians perform extreme contortions to make historical fact fit their version of events.

  1. The whole fancy is based on nothing more than the fact that they were related and lived in the same house although the overlap was no more than a few months. 

  2. The totally unfounded idea that Golding invited the Earl's assistance because young Oxford's writing was better than Golding's. Easily disprovable from their own argument. While the Oxfordian right hand is claiming precocious genius for their candidate at this time of his life, the left Oxfordian hand is apologising for the inadequacy of his juvenilia. Easier still if you take the trouble to look at the writing of the two individuals concerned. 

  3. The third is deliciously ironic, since the whole claim is intended to link Oxford to Shakespeare through knowledge of Golding's translation Ovid's Metamorphoses.  Will not only didn't use Golding's translation but actually parodies it in MSND. Will probably knew all he needed from the Metamorphoses by heart and in the original.

There is no evidence that Oxford knew anything at all about Ovid, let alone enough to translate him in his early teens. Oxford's erratic use of Latin in his writings won't support the idea, either.

The entire fiction is concocted to promote the Earl of Oxford's imaginary status as child prodigy.

Share this post

Disqus comments