The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 TeasersiSteve Blog
Shakespeare's 400th Anniversary
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeThanksLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

I was trying to think of something new to say about Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death, which isn’t that easy to do.

In general, I’d suggest that Shakespeare has enjoyed a really, really good 400 years of being dead, at least as measured in audience applause, a metric that Shakespeare himself probably would have valued. Granted, as a businessman who worked very hard (presumably) for the moderate amount of wealth he piled up, I would think he’d be a little peeved that his daughters didn’t get to profit from all the advances in intellectual property law since 1709. But, on the whole, it’s been a pretty decent 400 years for Shakespeare, what with him being dead and all.

But what about the future?

On the one hand, Shakespeare’s reputation over the course of my lifetime is perhaps the most stable in all of literature, other than, maybe, Homer’s. Consider in contrast even Dante, whose repute may have peaked about a century ago due to his appeal to WASPs such as T.S. Eliot. Granted, people don’t put down Dante now, but English-speakers don’t rhapsodize over him as much as they did in the first four decades of the 20th Century, the E.M. Forster era, when rich Americans and Englishmen tried to spend time in Dante’s hometown of Florence.

Even today, however, Shakespeare continues to electrify the Theater Kids. And in a culture war, that’s who you want — the good-looking and limelight-seeking girls and boys — in your foxhole.

On the other hand, the humorless, unattractive Social Justice Warriors may eventually turn upon Shakespeare as the ultimate stale pale male.

Thus, from the Guardian:

Only 17% of speeches in Shakespeare’s plays are by women

Shakespeare may have been widely championed as a visionary, but this description can’t be applied to his record on gender equality. On average men are given 81% of speeches, while 17% go to women and the rest are made up of unknowns or mixed groups, according to Open Source Shakespeare. Women tend to come off worst in his tragedies: Timon of Athens features just nine speeches by women, compared with 725 by men. And yet the population of Shakespeare’s England was roughly 53.5% male and 46.5% female.

Screenshot 2016-04-23 03.08.26

Julius Caesar, which is written in simpler, more Latin-like English, than Shakespeare’s other plays, is the best intro to a Shakespeare play for boys. Henry IV Part I is hugely entertaining for boys, with Falstaff for comedy and a great sympathetic bad guy in Hotspur.

The problem with the tradition of using Romeo and Juliet as an introduction to Shakespeare for girls is that it’s an extremely show-offy play by a young Shakespeare feeling his verbal oats (as depicted in Shakespeare in Love), and the complexity of the language is likely to defeat most young people. Fortunately, there are countless adaptations, with West Side Story being only the most obvious.

Alison Bechdel

Heather Froehlich asks the burning question:

DOES SHAKESPEARE PASS THE BECHDEL TEST?

The Bechdel Test is a measure of how male and female characters are portrayed in cinema and other media. A piece passes the Bechdel test if it:

a) has at least two women in it
b) who talk to each other about something besides a man.

That’s it. Pretty simple, right? Not a lot of contemporary media passes the Bechdel test, rather alarmingly. While I was working out proportions of male and female characters in Shakespeare, I got a number of questions about whether or not Shakespeare will pass. I went looking to see if anyone else had approached this question before. Someone has, but at the time of writing this, their website is down for maintenance.

I have already shown that all of Shakespeare’s plays have 2 or more female characters. But what about “talking to each other about something other than a man”? …

By and large, Shakespeare does not pass the Bechdel test: but two plays do – and it’s not the plays I ever would have expected. …

Henry V does pass the Bechdel Test, due to this discussion (in French) between Katherine and Alice from Act 3 Scene 4. …

Richard 2 passes because the Queen and her ladies “are carefully not talking about Richard” as @angevin2 kindly points out; they are instead talking about garden sports in Act 3 Scene 4.

But, my impression is that when girls get together they actually do talk about boys a lot …

Here’s a question for the Shakespeare experts: are there any gay characters in Shakespeare’s works? It’s a pretty interesting question since it’s not clear how long the 20th century gay male mode has been around in the past, or how long it will last into the future. Is it due to nature or nurture?

Shakespeare himself … I dunno. He fathered three children in Stratford as a very young man. But some of his early sonnets after he then arrived in London sound pretty gay. But then he became a patriarch of the theater, where, judging from today’s theater, he presumably would have known numerous gays. But his plays don’t seem particularly gay by stage standards. Eventually, around age 48 he retired back to his small town of Stratford, where his will granted his widow his second-best bed.

There aren’t a lot of obviously gay characters in Shakespeare’s plays.

One possibile gay character is an effeminate aristocrat whom the virile Hotspur denounces at length in Henry IV Part I. On the other hand, maybe Shakespeare was just making fun of the unnamed offstage character’s snobbishness? Similarly, it’s hard to tell from watching reruns of the Jack Benny Show from the 1950s whether Benny is making fun of his character’s effeminacy or snobbishness.

 
• Tags: Shakespeare, Stage 
Hide 219 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. Last time I went into a chain bookstore, I saw a modern adaptation of Shakespeare set, where the play scripts were written out in iPhone text message screencaps, complete with emojis. It was like sad.

    • Replies: @AndrewR
    That could actually be pretty funny if well done. And a useful translation for some of Billy's more opaque writing
    , @Jim Don Bob
    ;-(
  2. @27 year old
    Last time I went into a chain bookstore, I saw a modern adaptation of Shakespeare set, where the play scripts were written out in iPhone text message screencaps, complete with emojis. It was like sad.

    That could actually be pretty funny if well done. And a useful translation for some of Billy’s more opaque writing

  3. Shakespeare may have been widely championed as a visionary…

    Where? I’ve never seen Shakespeare described in any terms that would fit the word “visionary”.
    Have you? Perhaps someone who knows 16th century theater better than me can tell me where he’s visionary,, as in forward-thinking, progressive, ground breaking, or ahead-of-his-time. Maybe he is in some technical sense of the development of modern theater, but from the content of the plays to the criticism I’ve read, he seems a man of his time with a cautious, moderate temperament, writing in the modes of his time.

    Lazy writing here.

    • Replies: @random observer
    I can't offer a citation from memory, but a lot of 20th century Shakespeare criticism focused on him as a pioneer of getting inside the heads of his characters:

    -differentiating them as individuals more thoroughly than literature and drama had done, at least in English but probably in most of the western canon
    -differentiating characters as having character in the sense we understand, rather than merely acting as stereotypes/archetypes/stock characters or playing out the social and dramatic role their character should naturally have, and has had in countless other dramas
    -elaborating for the audience on interior motivations in a way that once would have been wholly opaque, or left to inference

    Now there may be some special pleading in all that. I'm not convinced, perhaps as I am too ignorant of earlier literature, that previous drama was wholly stock characters, or that Bill's work is free of them.

    But I can see the way in which the Iliad might be considered to contain a bevy of stock characters, even if they seem to have 'some' interiority to them. Or the Aeneid. I just don't know how tenable the thesis is for such works.

    On the other hand, medieval drama is an epic of archetypes without interiority. Even their emotional turmoil is stylized for effect and they behave in ways incomprehensible except as a consequence of their narrative function. Even if we moderns think some Shakespeare characters' are unbelievable idiots [Lear] or need mood stabilizers or someone to kick them and tell them to make up their minds [Hamlet], their emotional failings are recognizable to us and their thought processes not unlike our own, and we know because they have shared them with us.

    Moderns can understand Henry or Hamlet much better than any version of the Arthur saga, I find.

    Or consider just one small example. Falstaff is on some level the stock character of a miles gloriosus, the braggart soldier. Shakespeare does more with him than that, and gives him an interior life and narrative we can understand, even if in the end he is not likeable. [I finally got the chance to see Orson Welles' "Chimes at Midnight" this year. I can't say I enjoyed that very much, and it definitely does not make Falstaff sympathetic for the most part, especially if one follows the interpretation that he was always a boastful liar, thief, and of no-account. Even if he once was the hero he claims to be, he has become all those negatives and sympathy rather drains away.]
  4. Ah Steve, how can you discuss Shakespeare w/o mentioning the great controversy and hidden truth: that the plays attributed to the barely-literate Stratfordian actor were no doubt actually written by the Loch Ness monster! Tell me, how could Shakespeare have displayed such familiarity with the murky depths of Loch Ness if he did not dwell within them!? Tragically, Nessie was killed when WTC 7 was remotely detonated, and thus the world will likely never known the truth of this great deception . . .

    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    Gee. Lame, sarcastic humor from a Starfordian? Now I've seen everything.
  5. Nicely done, Steve. You’re a renaissance journalist.

  6. Steve,

    The authorship question seems like it should be a natural topic for you: mainstream academia has for four centuries been promoting a certain candidate (the historical man from Stratford who did indeed die in 1616) as the author of the 38 plays, the 150+ sonnets, and the two long poems.

    No one has yet written a convincing biography explaining how that man from Stratford could possibly have gained the knowledge necessary to write the Shakespeare Canon. Which is why new biographies of Shakespeare appear every year – they’re all trying to explain the impossible, and they can’t do it.

    So, here’s a prediction for you:

    We will continue to see new biographies written about “Shakespeare” for as long as the narrative remains that the man from Stratford was The Bard.

    That’s an absolute certainty. But what the academics refuse to admit is that their carefully crafted narrative of the life of the author of the Shakespeare Canon convinces no one, not even themselves. Thus the never-ending search for any evidence about the life of the man from Stratford. Which, when they find any, doesn’t fit with what must have been true of the author of the Canon. So they keep looking and looking.

    And it’s not interesting, and you’re right, there is nothing new to say about the man from Stratford.

    Now if they were to admit that for four hundred years they had misidentified author of the Canon, well, now that would be interesting!

    • Replies: @Thursday
    The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work. Oxford and Marlowe were dead before many of the plays were put on. Ben Jonson credited Shakespeare with writing his own plays. Etc. etc. etc.

    Shakespeare came from the upper middle class, with a solid grammar school education. He could easily have gotten what knowledge he had (not always as accurate as the alternative author people say) from reading, doing business, and having dealings with the court as poet and playwright.
    , @Leftist conservative
    I think Edward DeVere wrote most of the plays...but like hollywood movies, I think the plays had co-authors and were often extensively rewritten, sometimes many years after they were first performed on stage.

    Just as script doctors rewrite, revise and edit hollywood movies...shake-spear's plays also had script doctors, no doubt...
    also, the actors usually modify the script, sometimes making extensive modifications via ad-libs. They did likewise in shake-spear's time.

    Books are often extensively revised by publishing house editors.

    When I wrote news-scripts for TV news, the anchors would usually modify the scripts to some extent.


    Writing is usually a collaborative effort.

    I think shake-spear's plays were collaborations. But DeVere's fingerprints are all over them. The plays are in great part his life story. And if the study of literature teaches us one thing, it is that great writing typically comes from a person's life background.

    , @Oakland
    Edward DeVere, 17th Earl of Oxford was the true author. There is a book by Joseph Sobran, "Alias Shakespeare" ( sub title, "Solving the Greatest Literart Mystery of All Time")
    , @Hail
    What is the motive for a centuries-long conspiracy to promote the possibly-literate Stratford man?

    (Incidentally, I agree that the evidence is most strongly on the strong of the Oxford-as-author theory.)
  7. Also the 400th of Miguel de Cervantes

    • Replies: @D. K.
    Cervantes actually died 400 years ago yesterday, and was buried 400 years ago today:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=EtnG39py_t8C&pg=PA97&dq=cervantes+death+miguel+1616&hl=en&sa=X&ei=bm0oU__OHaar7Abgt4CIAg&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=cervantes%20death%20miguel%201616&f=false

    Shakespeare actually died eleven days after Cervantes-- which was on Tuesday, May 3, 1616, under the newer Gregorian Calendar, which had been instituted in parts of Europe when Shakespeare was 18 years old, but which was not to be instituted in England, and its then-British Empire, including America, until the mid-18th Century (September 1752).

    A period of 400 years happens to comprise one full Gregorian Calendar cycle, versus the simple 28-year cycle of the Julian Calendar that Shakespeare had lived under, across the English Channel from Catholic France.
  8. Steve,

    Do you put any stock in the Oxford theory of Shakespeare, that the author was actually Edward de Vere?

    Joe Sobran maintained it steadfastly (which is the only way he maintained anything) and it seemed at least persuasive to me. That however means nothing, since my true knowledge of Shakespeare is, let’s just say, very limited.

    Those who subscribe to the Oxford theory submit the Sonnets as virtually irrefutable proof that they were written by a man for another man, and although married with many children, it was known that de Vere was gay.

    • Replies: @Kit
    1. The Oxfordian theory can't overcome the fact that de Vere died in 1604 and Shakespeare continued producing plays until 1611 or so. The latter plays reference events that happened after de Vere died, most notably a 1609 or 1610 shipwreck referenced in "The Tempest," produced in 1611. Also, absolutely no one questioned that William of Stratford wrote the plays until the late 19th century; the Oxfordian hypothesis wasn't mentioned until the 1920's. Sobran's opinion was based entirely on snobbery that a writer as great as Shakespeare just HAD to be a nobleman.

    2. Judging by my two teenaged sons and their friends, the Bard of Avon has nothing to fear for his place in the canon. Heck, Cracked.com often features Shakespeare references and lists. Even Dante should be happy, since lots of fantasy fans, and fans of the "Assasin's Creed" videogames read "The Inferno."

    3. The best play for girls, and by far the best comedy, is the late "Much Ado About Nothing," which was a lovely Kenneth Branagh - Emma Thompson play in 1993.
    , @Paul Jolliffe
    It's doubtful Vere was gay. I read Joe Sobran's book years ago, and while Sobran made many excellent points, I think he missed what was going on in some of the sonnets.

    Vere had six kids by THREE DIFFERENT WOMEN over the course of several years.

    Gay men don't do that.

    It is vaguely possible he was a bi-sexual, but unlikely at best.

    The more likely explanation for some of the sonnets is that they were written as Southampton was seriously considering marrying Vere's daughter, a marriage which ultimately did not happen.

    Vere is an excellent candidate as the author, although it is possible that he was the head of the English propaganda machine that included younger talents such as Marlowe, who may or may not have died in 1591. But that's another story. . .
  9. Richard II & his “favorites” Bushy, Bagot & Green come across pretty gay.

  10. I hadn’t realised the sex ratio was balanced in favour of males in Elizabethan England. I suppose this was due to the high number of deaths in childbirth and the fact that there were fewer wars in Queen Elizabeth I ‘s reign.

  11. @27 year old
    Last time I went into a chain bookstore, I saw a modern adaptation of Shakespeare set, where the play scripts were written out in iPhone text message screencaps, complete with emojis. It was like sad.

    ;-(

  12. Priss Factor [AKA "Polly Perkins"] says:

    The new Macbeth movie with Fassbender and Coitillard sucks so bad.

    Lasted 20 min and FF the rest.

    Artsy, pictorialist, belabored and strained. Overly stylized.
    Yet, it also tries to be gritty and naturalistic. Cancels itself out.

    Shakes language works as rhetoric in artificial space. It generally doesn’t work in the realism of cinema.

    This is why Kurosawa’s adaptations are among the best. He just took the ideas and left out the language.

    Only Welles made the language work onscreen, but then he was a genius. And he used the language cinematically, musically than rhetorically.

    But Polanski and Kosintsev did respectable work with Shakespeare.

    The Zefferelli versions have some good acting, esp Richard Burton in Shrew.
    But Zeffy wasn’t much of a film maker. He relied mostly on tricks and pomp.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
    "Shakes[peare's] language works as rhetoric in artificial space. It generally doesn’t work in the realism of cinema.

    "This is why Kurosawa’s adaptations are among the best. He just took the ideas and left out the language."

    Well...maybe.

    I wonder if Verdi's two greatest works - Otello & Falstaff - could be fit into this thesis.
    , @yaqub the mad scientist
    The Zefferelli versions have some good acting, esp Richard Burton in Shrew.
    But Zeffy wasn’t much of a film maker. He relied mostly on tricks and pomp.


    Anyone else notice the mistake in R and J where Zefferelli decided to leave out the final fight scene between Romeo and Paris but forgot to change the the closing speech by the Prince: "....for winking at your dischords I have lost a brace of kinsmen"? Due to the change, he only lost one kinsman.
    , @vinteuil
    Top ten Shakespeare films, in no particular order:

    1 Hamlet (dir. Branagh, 1996)

    2 Julius Caesar (dir. Mankiewicz, 1953)

    3 Macbeth (dir. Polanski, 1971)

    4 Taming of the Shrew (dir. Zeffirelli, 1967)

    5 Much Ado about Nothing (dir. Branagh, 1993)

    6 12th Night (dir. Nunn, 1996)

    7 Henry V (dir. Branagh, 1989)

    8 Richard III (dir. Olivier, 1955)

    9 Romeo & Juliet (dir. Zeffirelli, 1968)

    10 Henry V (dir. Olivier, 1944)
  13. So what’s the view on the Earl of Oxford being the real author? Joe Sobran wrote a book about it. I suppose it could be true.

  14. Priss Factor [AKA "Polly Perkins"] says:

    Linklater on genius Welles on genius Shakespeare.

    Chimes at Midnight, the greatest Shakes movie:

    Welles Macbeth, made in 2 weeks, is also remarkable. His Othello is seriously flawed but the opening scene is pure genius.

    Shakes inspires geniuses, defeats phonies. Branagh is a phony.

    Ethan Hawke’s Hamlet is unwatchable.

    https://newrepublic.com/article/121721/orson-welles-100th-birthday-retrospective-stanley-kauffmann

    • Replies: @rbbarnet
    Agree, Chimes at Midnight is the best cinematic Shakespeare. I wept at the end when Falstaff's body was trundled away in a huge tin coffin.

    Fall-Staff

    Shake-Speare
  15. Gay characters? Thersites in Troilus and Cressida is the one always cited. The Incredible Orlando camps it up shamelessly in the Ambrose DVD.

    • Replies: @Jus' Sayin'...
    I'd add Iago as a possible. Like Thersites he has an anti-heroic, bitchy quality that I've often noticed in homosexuals when they are behaving badly. Also, notice that Iago's target is the most masculine character in the play and his strategy is to attack through Othello's heterosexual love for Desdemona; a double hit on normal sexual love.
  16. Priss Factor [AKA "Polly Perkins"] says:

    17% women?

    I think rap is mostly young males.

    And Jews who are 2% comprise 50% of punditry.

    Oh my, Glenngarry Glen Ross ia all male.

  17. The real author of the plays and poems attributed to Shakespeare is Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. The subject of his longing in the Sonnets is Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton.

  18. Why would there be any assumption theater people were gay 400 years ago?

    I’m sure flamboyant types were drawn to drama throughout the ages, but it was a mainstream entertainment, probably similar to popular music in our own era. A lot of guys with big personalities probably did it to get ladies.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    SFG, Agreed, Modern, or rather contemporary theater and movies have plenty of gay actors, so I think this would be a projection backwards. Today the gay population is estimated to be 3% or less of the general population, I assume that it was the same or less 400 years ago.
    , @David
    Christopher Marlowe is supposed to have said, "all they that love not tobacco and boys are fools." Sounds kind of gay to me.

    Interesting that Shakespeare never mentions tobacco, if Marlowe really said that.
    , @SteveO

    but it was a mainstream entertainment
     
    Yes, but working in the theater, and acting in particular, was not entirely respectable. You would expect such a profession to draw a raffish element, at least some of whom would have had outlaw/rebel tendencies, and to push the boundaries of acceptable behavior. (These things are still true today, to the point that someone who leads what anywhere else would be considered an unremarkably normal life, like Tom Hanks, is held up as an icon of respectability.) You would also expect homosexuals to be drawn to such an environment because they themselves were outlaws and because they could get away with a little more than could in ordinary society.

    While I agree that the media and homosexuals themselves wildly exaggerate their presence in entertainment - and in life generally - it doesn't seem entirely illogical that there would be a disproportionate number in the theater compared to more conventional environments.
  19. Priss Factor [AKA "Polly Perkins"] says:
    • Replies: @SFg
    Nice.

    You know, when he was asking, "What do you want to be," I was half expecting him to answer, '...a lumberjack!'
  20. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    One would have thought that by simply applying the brute power of basic mathematics, combining the enormous increase in population since Shakespeare’s time, the near universality of literacy, circulation of written media, radio, TV and not least the internet, plus the fact that most educated people in the world study English since grade school, that the earth would produce rather more than one Shakespeare per generation.

    But it has never happened.

    Why?

    This post was inspired by Fremlin’s famous overpopulation essay in the New Scientist.

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
    Thank you. You have eloquently refuted, and without even mentioning it, the absurd thesis that Shakespeare could not have been Shakespeare because he was a country oik.
    He was, very simply, the sort of universal genius you point to. They are God's undeserved gift to humanity and they come generally out of nowhere and cannot be explained. They are an echo of the divine and are to be accepted and not analysed.
    One other is Wagner; also a country bumpkin (he never lost his broad Saxon accent). Or perhaps his works were the creation of King Ludwig?
    , @guest
    High art isn't a consequence of surplus population, literacy, and mass media. Better civilization produces better art. I can't tell exactly how or why, nor can I always tell from a distance what is a better or worse civilization. There were plenty of near-Shakespeares in Shakespeare's time: Marlowe, Johnson, Webster, Middleton, whose plays we still read. Now we have almost none. Why is that? Partly because of the special qualities of Elizabethan England, I presume.

    Democracy is one big problem. Though they'll categorize Shakespeare's as a commercial culture, it was an aristocracy. They took religion and the monarchy seriously. Order, rank, tradition, our soul's place in the universe, all that lends itself easier to drama than whatever it is playwrights care about now. Which is sex and alienation, so far as I know. There must be a reason no one now can write a Tragedy of Lincoln, President of the United States.

    Bourgeois cultures have produced great art, don't get me wrong. The novel is a better fit for them, however. Not Shakespearean drama.
  21. “But what about the future?”

    The future looks depressingly black to me.

  22. “Bechdel Test” huh? I wonder if they have a similar test for black writers? Do they write about anything other than “blackness”.

  23. As Joe Sobran and Mark Anderson have I think conclusively shown, it’s DeVere. Both the plays and the “mysteries” make a lot more sense, and the case is strong.

    http://shakespearebyanothername.com/

  24. I wonder what female academics discuss with each other. My sense is that they gossip a lot. Do they spend time complaining about “The Patriarchy?”

    I would hazard to guess that of all the substantive, interesting conversations which take place in the Western World, at least 95% involve at least 1 man.

    • Replies: @dcite
    Yes, sabril, there are women of substance, at least on my planet. I don't know if these ladies are "academics" (why academics? what script are you stuck in?) but such females are probably older than 17, and therefore would not interest you.

    It seems to me that it is common here for commenters to use the preludes: "I would guess" or "it would seem" or "my sense is" and then go on to conclude, as if empirical, whatever their pre-clusions had already decided on.
    Unless you have statistics, unless you actually record lady "academic" conversations, and analyze for style and substance, and can repeat the experiment, I find your opinion most impertinent. It may even be lacking in substance. Most of us wake up sooner or later and realize most of what we've been talking and thinking about most of our lives is dreck, and the little bit of exalted thought and speech was the only thing worth the trouble. That's where poets and mystics come in.

    Back to Shakespeare. My nephew thinks deVere wrote a lot of his plays, and he's been on the case since he was 13, almost 20 years.

  25. Shakespeare figures prominently in the Star Trek universe. Hamlet is translated into Klingon, and characters use quotes like “let slip the dogs of war.” And all that’s supposed to be 23rd-24th Century.

  26. Elizabethan England was a more flamboyant culture than the modern Anglosphere, sort of like the stereotypical Mediterranean culture, and I don’t think Shakespeare’s sonnets would have struck his contemporaries as particularly sodomitical. Sonnet 20, which today seems very fey and incriminating, nonetheless has a “no homo” passage where Shakespeare says that in spite of the youth’s charms, nature added “one thing to my purpose nothing” (i.e., a penis). The concluding couplet draws a distinction between emotional love (which men can share) and physical love (exclusively for a man and woman). Renaissance culture, under the influence of classical literature, generally saw these things as both intellectually sophisticated and morally healthy within a Christian society.

    If you want actual gay Elizabethan poetry, check out Richard Barnfield’s sonnets or Christopher Marlowe’s “Hero and Leander,” which has the Greek god Neptune molesting Leander while he tries to swim across the Hellespont. There’s a physicality in these poems not really present in Shakespeare’s.

    There are no obviously gay characters in Shakespeare’s works, although the usual suspects sometimes try to claim one, like Antonio in “The Merchant of Venice.” Under the influence of Christopher Marlowe’s “Edward II,” the most popular claimant for a gay Shakespearean character has been Richard II in the play of the same name. Both plays are about a weak king who gets deposed by the aristocracy, and beginning with John Gielgud in the 1920s it has been common to portray Richard as a stereotypical homosexual. When Michael Redgrave did the role in the 1950s, he played Richard as “an out-and-out pussy queer, with mincing gestures to match” in the words of Laurence Olivier, who thought it made a hash of Shakespeare’s play. Now Marlowe’s “Edward II” is a gay play, unambiguously, and it’s true that some historical sources which Shakespeare could have read did claim that Richard was also gay; but this really isn’t visible in Shakespeare’s play. If you compare Marlowe’s play to Shakespeare’s, what strikes you more than anything is how staid and conventional the latter is. Characters complain that Richard “is basely led by flatterers,” but there’s none of the sexuality in Marlowe’s work. I think Shakespeare was trying to emulate Marlowe’s play, which is a compelling depiction of a king’s fall from power, but the gay stuff grossed him out. The play would probably be better if it was gayer, since it awkwardly borrows Marlowe’s structure while omitting the logic that underpinned it.

  27. @SFG
    Why would there be any assumption theater people were gay 400 years ago?

    I'm sure flamboyant types were drawn to drama throughout the ages, but it was a mainstream entertainment, probably similar to popular music in our own era. A lot of guys with big personalities probably did it to get ladies.

    SFG, Agreed, Modern, or rather contemporary theater and movies have plenty of gay actors, so I think this would be a projection backwards. Today the gay population is estimated to be 3% or less of the general population, I assume that it was the same or less 400 years ago.

  28. Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford wrote the plays anyway

  29. Jeremy Irons played an Antonio clearly in love with Bassanio in the 2004 movie version of The Merchant of Venice. I am no Shakespeare expert, but there seemed to be enough support in the text for him to do this (and his performance was subtle) without wrecking the play.

    However I have seen local productions of Shakespeare where male characters are played by women, or where black actors or are used (and not Othello and not in a modernizing set) and it ruins the play for me.

  30. He was a massive fan of Kit Marlowe, most of whose high-risk extra-curricular activities are shrouded in suspicion and mystery (a.k.a. ignorance and imagining). Remember, the nicest thing that could happen to you if convicted was being strung up.
    Check out Chris’s pic, and see if he pings your gaydar.
    And Bill’s (18) wife was pretty old (26), a woman of property, while his lot had gone nearly bust.

    For most of their married life, he lived in London, writing and performing his plays, while she remained in Stratford [Wiki]

    Eminently sensible, in a time of plague, pox, religious strife, and war. Stay on the family farm, in among villages of kinsfolk, stop the kids getting TB from other peoples’ cows and so on. But a LDR none the less, despite the reported annual conjugal visits.

  31. And yet the population of Shakespeare’s England was roughly 53.5% male and 46.5% female.

    What a shocking finding! Gotcha, Shakespeare, you sexist pig! Absent wars and other tragedies, the human population of every society at every time in history (including Elizabethan England) is roughly 1/2 male and 1/2 female.

    Liberals desire to impose their standards not only on the present and future but they would like to own the past also. Therefore, people (but only white people) of the past who did not behave according to contemporary norms (even though they were acting completely within the norms of their society) , who own slaves and displace native peoples, etc. must be made into unpersons – remove their faces from our currency, ban their literature, etc. When a Muslim has several wives (each of whom is his teenage first cousin) then liberals shout that you can’t apply contemporary Western standards to other cultures, but the Europeans of 1600 are supposed to act exactly like SWPLs of 2016, so Shakespeare is a badthinker because women don’t get 50% of the speeches in his plays.

    • Agree: reiner Tor
    • Replies: @guest
    "He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past."

    -George Orwell, 1984
  32. Keep in mind that first, boy actors, then male actors, played all parts, including female parts. I don’t think there were any public actresses until after Cromwell.

    There was a certain cult concerning “Greek Love” in Elizabethan England, especially among the nobility and the educated. Many of the original playwrights were highly educated, and many of them were actors, too. Christopher Marlowe is the most notorious (assuming for the moment that he actually did say, “All who do not love tobacco and boys are fools.”) But even in this case most people accept the notion that Bacon was homosexual (no connection to theater), as was the Earl of Oxford (at least bisexual, and ran a company of boys, i.e., a boy’s theater troupe.)

    There were also other poets whose description of male love sounds “gay” by our standards. However, buggery was perceived simply as a vice, and it could be conceived of as a masculine or even hyper-masculine pursuit.

    As far as the stage goes, Edward II was definitely passive-gay, and Richard II is an arguable derivation of that.

    There’s a definite shift in the way women are portrayed in the stage of that time, moving from Juliet to Troilus to Roaring Girl to Pericles to Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Not sure that it’s “progressive” for women, as that term is understood today.

    One thing worth noting is that the Elizabethan English is becoming progressively harder to understand. I first was keyed to this from East European immigrants who thought Shakespeare was overrated because of the complexity and prolixity of his style, a style matched by most of his peers, by the way. Now I notice that online you can find all of Shakespeare’s plays re-written in a way that is easier to understand for the modern English ear, sort of like the King James Bible has been Newly Revised, several times.

    I don’t think Shakespeare was “progressive” in any way. The alternative mindset in those days was informed by Roman and Greek philosophy, not just Plato but especially Skepticism, Stoicism, and that sort of thing, and the Renaissance writings informed by that (Montaigne, Macchiavelli). There’s a lot of that in Elizabethan literature, not just Shakespeare.

  33. I was watching the recent BBC version of the Henriad (The Hollow Crown) and was reading the text at the same time, and the BBC clearly changed some of the lines to make them more PC. For instance the exclamation “o Jesu” was stripped out for something less religious. Lines like “we will abibe by our ancient oaths” was changed to “we will fight for our rights.” I’m sure the BBC thought it was improving Shakespeare but it was pretty embarrassing. Sad!

  34. OT:

    Is Amazon Prime racist against blacks?

    http://newsmachete.com/?news=1624

    Zip codes matter.

  35. I think that Shakespeare is ripe for replacement. As SPMoore notes, his language is difficult to follow, imagine how it is for non native speakers ? Being from the Elizabethan age his plots, characters and attitudes are all extremely problematic. If a Guardian writer can apply the Bechdel test to him without irony, it is only a matter of time before he is replaced. This will probably be done by finding a pre 19th century non English writer from Africa or Asia (ideally Islamic) and translating them into progressive, gender neutral English. Shakespeare might survive as a popular figure if his plays can be rewritten (i.e. appropriated by progressives to make them more relevant).

    What is interesting is how long Shakespeare has lasted. When I did high school English he was the only writer we studied from before 1800. Most of what we read was post 1950. I suspect that he was kept on the syllabus as proof that standards were intact. I would only teach him to grades 11/12 and get younger kids to read 18th and 19th century writers that they can understand easily.

  36. I cannot think of any gay characters in Shakespeare, though possibly some of the characters in the Roman plays may have dabbled in real life. There are plenty of characters in the comedies where members of one sex are disguised as members of another, but usually the word “unnatural” means someone who does not love their parent, rather than someone who loves their fellow man a little too much.

    Evaluating Shakespeare is a bit like critiquing mother’s cooking, or God’s creativity. Since Shakespeare practically invented the modern English language and influenced almost every English writer and reader since, his works just ARE what they are.

    • Replies: @guest
    "Shakespeare practically invented the modern English language"

    Though I think this statement ridiculous, the volume of Shakespeare words on phrases in common coinage is mind boggling. He has to be second only to the Bible.
  37. The thing (IMHO) is that there’s nothing progressive or revolutionary about Shakespeare. He didn’t have a message per se. He was just an extremely effective storyteller good at writing a very wide variety of characters, and his stuff survives because English teachers like to honor the past and the whole larger-than-life epic with people reciting poetry to each other no longer exists. But if you want to dress in fancy costumes, speak in a highflown style that doesn’t exist anymore (but should)…well, where are you supposed to go? David Mamet?

    There’s a whole theatrical side to the human spirit/personality/whatever that really has no outlet in the modern world. (Medieval peasants had mummer’s and Passion plays.) But reading Shakespeare in high school gives us that.

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
    "But if you want to dress in fancy costumes, speak in a highflown style that doesn’t exist anymore (but should)…well, where are you supposed to go? David Mamet?"

    In a way, yes, but with a lot more obscenity. The world would be a more interesting place if, in everyday life, people spoke like MacBeth or Cassius or Mercutio. However the world would also be a more interesting place if, in everyday life, people spoke like Blake (Alec Baldwin's character in the movie) from Glengarry Glen Ross.

  38. @John Derbyshire
    Gay characters? Thersites in Troilus and Cressida is the one always cited. The Incredible Orlando camps it up shamelessly in the Ambrose DVD.

    I’d add Iago as a possible. Like Thersites he has an anti-heroic, bitchy quality that I’ve often noticed in homosexuals when they are behaving badly. Also, notice that Iago’s target is the most masculine character in the play and his strategy is to attack through Othello’s heterosexual love for Desdemona; a double hit on normal sexual love.

  39. Here’s a question for the Shakespeare experts: are there any gay characters in Shakespeare’s works?

    Queer theory types love to speculate on the Hal-Falstaff relationship…..

    And I’ve also seen Queer readings of Iago…

    Consider in contrast even Dante, whose repute may have peaked about a century ago due to his appeal to WASPs such as T.S. Eliot.

    “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.”

    ― T.S. Eliot

    Julius Caesar, which is written in simpler, more Latin-like English, than Shakespeare’s other plays, is the best intro to a Shakespeare play for boys. Henry IV Part I is hugely entertaining for boys, with Falstaff for comedy and a great sympathetic bad guy in Hotspur.

    Henry IV, Part I has always been my personal favorite. It provided the material for my first really competent piece of close reading back in my undergrad days.

    Age-Appropriate Shakespeare: I’ll toss in Lear as another play that just doesn’t really work for younger readers. Indeed, I would argue that you can’t truly understand it until someone close to you (parent, spouse, sibling) has died:

    And my poor fool is hanged.—No, no, no life?
    Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
    And thou no breath at all? Oh, thou’lt come no more,
    Never, never, never, never, never.—
    Pray you, undo this button. Thank you, sir.
    Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips.
    Look there, look there. O, O, O, O.

    • Replies: @Jenner Ickham Errican

    Age-Appropriate Shakespeare: I’ll toss in Lear as another play that just doesn’t really work for younger readers.

    Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips.
    Look there, look there. O, O, O, O.
     
    In days of yore, when I was fast approaching majority, this bard was by far the most heralded poet throughout the land.

    You’re welcome, pal— OHHHH!
    , @guest
    "you can't truly understand it until someone close to you...has died"

    I saw King Lear as a relative youngster, and recall the most impactful scene as Gloucester's blinding. Can't say why. It should be Cordelia, by all rights. But somehow that wasn't as impactful.

    They handled the Fool self-indulgently, constructing an elaborate pantomime in silence to demonstrate his demise, which even though I hadn't yet read the play I knew couldn't have been prompted by the text.
    , @SFG
    You sure that last bit isn't a dirty joke? He was quite fond of them, as your English teacher probably never told you (though mine did).
  40. Some of us inclined to appreciate the sound of language love Shakespeare. His works seem fresh with each re-reading or re-seeing or re-hearing, take your pick.
    That is my escapist admission of the day.

  41. Even today, however, Shakespeare continues to electrify the Theater Kids. And in a culture war, that’s who you want — the good-looking and limelight-seeking girls and boys — in your foxhole.

    The Theater Kids tend not to be very cool. They tend to be nerdy and dorky.

    • Replies: @njguy73
    But they go on to write stuff, and that influences the culture.
  42. LL says:

    “Let others complain that the age is wicked; my complaint is that it is paltry; for it lacks passion. Men’s thoughts are thin and flimsy like lace, they are themselves pitiable like the lacemakers. The thoughts of their hearts are too paltry to be sinful. For a worm it might be regarded as a sin to harbor such thoughts, but not for a being made in the image of God. Their lusts are dull and sluggish, their passions sleepy. They do their duty, these shopkeeping souls, but they clip the coin a trifle, like the Jews; they think that even if the Lord keeps ever so careful a set of books, they may still cheat Him a little. Out upon them! This is the reason my soul always turns back to the Old Testament and to Shakespeare. I feel that those who speak there are at least human beings: they hate, they love, they murder their enemies, and curse their descendants throughout all generations, they sin.”

    Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, 1843

  43. @SFG
    The thing (IMHO) is that there's nothing progressive or revolutionary about Shakespeare. He didn't have a message per se. He was just an extremely effective storyteller good at writing a very wide variety of characters, and his stuff survives because English teachers like to honor the past and the whole larger-than-life epic with people reciting poetry to each other no longer exists. But if you want to dress in fancy costumes, speak in a highflown style that doesn't exist anymore (but should)...well, where are you supposed to go? David Mamet?

    There's a whole theatrical side to the human spirit/personality/whatever that really has no outlet in the modern world. (Medieval peasants had mummer's and Passion plays.) But reading Shakespeare in high school gives us that.

    “But if you want to dress in fancy costumes, speak in a highflown style that doesn’t exist anymore (but should)…well, where are you supposed to go? David Mamet?”

    In a way, yes, but with a lot more obscenity. The world would be a more interesting place if, in everyday life, people spoke like MacBeth or Cassius or Mercutio. However the world would also be a more interesting place if, in everyday life, people spoke like Blake (Alec Baldwin’s character in the movie) from Glengarry Glen Ross.

  44. As to Dante, tried to read “Inferno” a few years back.Basically comes across mostly as a screed against anyone Dante had differences with-popes, bishops, Italian and European politicians and nobles of his time. It along with all of Shakespeare and many other works of long ago are all public domain, so anyone can read it on Kindle or similar services for free. Seen several sites and commentators, particularly Rod Dreher, attempt to read much more spiritual importance into it. Frankly lost on me.Shakespeare is a great storyteller,and that will always hold up.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
    With Dante, as with Homer & Vergil, everything depends on the translation. I tried Inferno multiple times & always gave up in annoyance after a few pages, until I discovered Robert Pinsky's 1995 version, which totally won me over. Terza rima in thoroughly idiomatic English, instead of the usual painful translationese. Give it a try.
    , @Jenner Ickham Errican
    I’ve read the Ciardi translation. Some of the best moments happen in the ascent from Purgatorio to Paradiso. Dante describes the earth dropping away at incredible speed, and his realization that the world is a dusty threshing ground.

    Alternately, the quickest, most evocative way to “skim” the Comedy is to peruse the Gustave Doré engravings (accompanied by key lines translated by Longfellow).
    , @guest
    In his screeds against the people Dante didn't write he tells stories, however. Ugolino and his sons starving in their cell, for instance, is high drama. I've always been partial to Ulysses' story in Purgatory.

    But you might not notice, because the author assumes an incredible amount of prior knowledge, of Renaissance Florentine politics, of the Catholic Church, of Christian culture, and so forth. Same with the spiritual vision behind the work. Most of it will be lost on you if you don't have a background in it, and even if you do you have to pay careful attention to the geographical layout of help, as well as the stars and countless little things.

    Which shouldn't matter to you if you don't find the surface attractive. I can understand not being able to "get into" Dante. That's an artist's job: to draw you in, even after multiple centuries. A better translation and good footnotes will help. There's a problem with this, in that you might find yourself puzzling through the poetry, waiting until you can flip to the back to find out what you just read. Then you understand it better, or perhaps are misled but feel you do, but then your artistic experience is secondhand, like reading a review of a play instead of the play itself. You could go back and read the text again. In fact, I recommend reading through works as whole without bothering to understand, then going back with a fine-toothed comb and outside help. But most people aren't willing to dedicate that much time to it.

    I can guarantee you will be compensated. Unlike with, say, serial composition in classical music. They tell me it's worked out from a complex underlying system, but I don't care. It sounds like nonsense. Dante does not sound like nonsense, even if you have no idea what he's saying.
  45. TGGP says: • Website

    It’s odd reading Shakespeare reference the New World as something minor and exotic, when from ta US perspective it should be all-important.

    Thersites was mentioned above, and in Troilus and Cressida he (in his colorful way) talks about how Patroclus is said to be the “male varlet” of Achilles, but Patroclus is too stupid or naive to understand him. The central romance of that play was invented in the medieval era, because there wasn’t much in the way of that in the Illiad.

  46. From an obscure magazine, it was noted that Bacon was put in charge of directing the translation of the Bible into then traditional English by King James, hence the KJV.

    Bacon was born in 1561 I believe, and would have reached 46 during the translation project. Psalm #46: 4th word down is Shake, 46th word up from bottom is Spear.

    Bacon loved cryptograms and other puzzles. And had traveled to Italy, and was one of the most brilliant men of his time, or any time. Rather than an itinerant Stage Manager and business man whose own daughter Ann was illiterate, Bacon would be an obvious possible source for the plays and sonnets. Whether he was homosexual is debatable because his language probably had different meanings and inferences than our “understandings” today.

  47. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The NY Times article on Shakespeare you link to gets something wrong. Apparently until recently it was not known in the literary community that Milan was an inland seaport in Shakespeare’s time, thanks to canals, originally due to cathedral building, and then due to all those wars and fort building in the Po valley. Probably a significant reason for the area’s prominence in the Renaissance (Leonardo one of the military canal engineers during the times of the wars):

    “William Shakespeare, Playwright and Poet, Is Dead at 52”, Louis Bayard, NYT, Apr 23, 2016:

    “…No one seems to have informed him that Milan and Verona are not seaports.”

    “Medieval canals in Northern Italy to be reopened: Canal cruises into past prove Shakespeare was right”, Richard Owen, 12 January 2009, The Times (via medievalnews.blogspot.com):

    “…Italy is to reopen medieval and Renaissance inland waterways so that tourists can travel over 500 kilometres (300 miles) by boat from Lake Maggiore to Venice via Milan.

    This summer engineers will start clearing eight kilometres of canals from the southern end of Lake Maggiore at Sesto Calende to Somma Lombardo. Alessandro Meinardi, of the Navigli Lombardi (Lombardy Canals) company, which is overseeing the project, said that the aim was to make navigable the whole of the 14th-century 140-kilometre stretch of waterways from Locarno in Switzerland to Milan.

    The restored canal system would eventually link up with the River Po, winding its way to Venice by way of Pavia, Piacenza, Cremona and Ferrara.

    Whereas the waterways used to transport goods, they would now enable visitors to take “the slow route” to Venice, “drifting past the Italian Renaissance landscape”. The billion euros (£886 million) project aims to revive what was once a main transport artery, as confirmed by casual references to Milan in Shakespeare’s plays as an inland port.

    …the first part of the route was originally used to transport marble… begun in 1386. The trip, using horsedrawn barges known as cagnone, took two weeks, with each barge carrying up to 50 tonnes of stone.

    Mr Meinardi said the canals began falling into disuse in the 1930s…

    …The canals of Milan were first built in the 12th century by Benedictine and Cistercian monks, and later expanded in line with designs by Leonardo da Vinci, linking the city to the sea. ”

    Navigli canals:

    “…the decline was steady and by the 1960s a project of a fluvial port to reach the Po River and consequentially the Adriatic Sea through the canals was shelved for good.”

    The Leonardo Trail: Boat trips:

    “…Leonardo da Vinci spent much of his life in Milan and Lombardy. He first arrived in 1482 at the age of 30 to enter the court of Ludovico il Moro as an engineer to build defensive fortifications and war machines… as he said himself:

    …In time of peace I believe I can give you as complete satisfaction as anyone else in architecture and in the construction of buildings both public and private, and in conducting water from one place to another

    …it is to his genius that we owe the mitre gates for canal locks known as da Vinci gates which he drew (Codiex Atlanticus f. 656a r, Milano, Biblioteca Ambrosiana) for the Martesana which finally entered Milan in the final years of the 16th century and fulfilled the dream of the Sforzas to join the waters of the Adda with the Ticino. Da Vinci gates are still in use on canals all over the world.”

    Here is a modern map of the system (from a modern worldwide canal conference): The Po River valley canal system.

    A lot of what became modern high school algebra came out this.

    • Replies: @random observer
    More esoteric than usual, but score another couple of points for NYTimes writers and modern literati not actually knowing anything.
  48. Two Antonios – Merchant of Venice and Twelth Night – may be same sex inclined. Obviously a ‘gay’ identity is absurd presentism when applied to Shakespeare’s world – but he does seem to have found same sex attraction an interesting focus – whether from the Marlovian ‘pederasty’ fad of the times, from his own bisexual inclination, or from the literary influence of Ovid, or all three.

    Needless to say I think Shakespeare’s own politics and social theory veer between stoical nihilism, conservative nihilism, cheerful nihilism and vehement nihilism – there is certainly nothing of the progressive in it!

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Some have seen lesbianism in As You Like It, but as is usual in Shakespeare, all supposed same sex attraction is extremely ambiguous, as opposed to in, say, Marlowe, or as opposed to all the heterosexual attraction in Shakespeare himself. For example, Rosalind is obviously very attracted to Orlando, while her affection for Celia can just as easily be seen as close emotional friendship.

    In general, people in those days were more open about expressing affection for members of the same sex, probably because they weren't automatically thought of as expressing something sexual.

    , @random observer
    Considering the society he lived in was emerging from medieval Christianity and was still [arguably more so] intensely religious, a case can be made that nihilism was a progressive philosophical position, insofar as it was more or less secular, worldly, and made no provision for benevolent divine intervention or cosmological hope.

    One or another form of nihilism gets taken up as at least one strand of the progressive intellectual tendency in many ages- Nietzsche and his existentialist French heirs would be examples. The former is impossible to wholly characterize, but his philosophy was neither conservative nor reactionary. The French existentialists were not easy to pigeonhole either, but Sartre at least could be considered a man of the left and that would be consistent with his philosophy. Camus, harder to call it.

    It would be an interesting study- the interplay of optimism and pessimism with conservative or progressive [or perhaps better, radical] intellectual tendencies in any given age. One also gets the philosophies that begin with a nihilistic proposition [there is no God and no Heaven and no authoritative moral order] and end with a hopeful but substitute one [we can make our own paradise and deduce a moral order].
  49. @SFG
    Why would there be any assumption theater people were gay 400 years ago?

    I'm sure flamboyant types were drawn to drama throughout the ages, but it was a mainstream entertainment, probably similar to popular music in our own era. A lot of guys with big personalities probably did it to get ladies.

    Christopher Marlowe is supposed to have said, “all they that love not tobacco and boys are fools.” Sounds kind of gay to me.

    Interesting that Shakespeare never mentions tobacco, if Marlowe really said that.

    • Replies: @SPMoore8
    Someone dug up some old clay pipes in Stratford a few years ago, they had traces of tobacco, cocaine, and cannabis. "There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy," is the kind of thing people say when they are stoned.

    The picture that everyone says is Marlowe might be Marlowe and it might not, it was found in about 1953 during some restoration work at Cambridge and has since been restored. However, it is true that Shakespeare's career will probably last longer once he is identified as LGBT. It's just the way our culture is now.

    , @Jenner Ickham Errican
    I believe the actual Marlowe quote is: “I have come here to smoke Tobacco and fool with Boys. And I’m all out of Tobacco.”
  50. @syonredux

    Here’s a question for the Shakespeare experts: are there any gay characters in Shakespeare’s works?
     
    Queer theory types love to speculate on the Hal-Falstaff relationship.....

    And I've also seen Queer readings of Iago...

    Consider in contrast even Dante, whose repute may have peaked about a century ago due to his appeal to WASPs such as T.S. Eliot.
     
    “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.”


    ― T.S. Eliot

    Julius Caesar, which is written in simpler, more Latin-like English, than Shakespeare’s other plays, is the best intro to a Shakespeare play for boys. Henry IV Part I is hugely entertaining for boys, with Falstaff for comedy and a great sympathetic bad guy in Hotspur.
     
    Henry IV, Part I has always been my personal favorite. It provided the material for my first really competent piece of close reading back in my undergrad days.

    Age-Appropriate Shakespeare: I'll toss in Lear as another play that just doesn't really work for younger readers. Indeed, I would argue that you can't truly understand it until someone close to you (parent, spouse, sibling) has died:

    And my poor fool is hanged.—No, no, no life?
    Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
    And thou no breath at all? Oh, thou'lt come no more,
    Never, never, never, never, never.—
    Pray you, undo this button. Thank you, sir.
    Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips.
    Look there, look there. O, O, O, O.

    Age-Appropriate Shakespeare: I’ll toss in Lear as another play that just doesn’t really work for younger readers.

    Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips.
    Look there, look there. O, O, O, O.

    In days of yore, when I was fast approaching majority, this bard was by far the most heralded poet throughout the land.

    You’re welcome, pal— OHHHH!

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Age-Appropriate Shakespeare: I’ll toss in Lear as another play that just doesn’t really work for younger readers.

    Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips.
    Look there, look there. O, O, O, O.

    In days of yore, when I was fast approaching majority, this bard was by far the most heralded poet throughout the land.

    You’re welcome, pal— OHHHH!
     
    Yeah, as I said, Lear is a play whose power can only be felt by those who have experienced real loss.Cf Dr Johnson's statement:

    “I was many years ago so shocked by Cordelia’s death, that I know not whether I ever endured to read again the last scenes of the play till I undertook to revise them as an editor.”
     
  51. @David
    Christopher Marlowe is supposed to have said, "all they that love not tobacco and boys are fools." Sounds kind of gay to me.

    Interesting that Shakespeare never mentions tobacco, if Marlowe really said that.

    Someone dug up some old clay pipes in Stratford a few years ago, they had traces of tobacco, cocaine, and cannabis. “There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” is the kind of thing people say when they are stoned.

    The picture that everyone says is Marlowe might be Marlowe and it might not, it was found in about 1953 during some restoration work at Cambridge and has since been restored. However, it is true that Shakespeare’s career will probably last longer once he is identified as LGBT. It’s just the way our culture is now.

  52. Mr Meinardi said the canals began falling into disuse in the 1930s.

    About the time Mussolini get the trains running on time.

  53. The obvious point of comparison for gay characters is Marlowe, who is gay gay gay, and has obvious gay characters in both Edward II and Dido, Queen of Carthage. Shakespeare doesn’t have anything like that. Even Thersites is not obviously gay like what you find in Marlowe.

    (The quotes attributed to Marlowe about boys and tobacco may or may not be spurious, but they accord with what is in the plays all too well. He also hated Christianity, and the speeches denouncing the Koran in Tamburlaine are really aimed at the Bible.)

    Then there is the issue of Shakespeare’s religion. We don’t have anything that can really be characterized as devotional sentiments from him, much less anything explicitly Christian. But he clearly saw a lot of agency in the world. Whether or not he was much of a Christian, he was at the very least a raging animist.

    Assuming he was more or less Christian, there is also the issue of whether he leaned Catholic or Protestant. He came from a Catholic leaning family, but seems to have preferred reading the ultra-Puritan Geneva Bible.

    We’ve dealt with the controversy over Shakespeare’s politics in another thread.

  54. I’m at a loss as to why we should care about the Bechdel Test, and especially as to how failing it could be “alarming.” Most great literature is about men, including that written by women. Deal with it.

  55. @Penny Red
    Also the 400th of Miguel de Cervantes

    Cervantes actually died 400 years ago yesterday, and was buried 400 years ago today:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=EtnG39py_t8C&pg=PA97&dq=cervantes+death+miguel+1616&hl=en&sa=X&ei=bm0oU__OHaar7Abgt4CIAg&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=cervantes%20death%20miguel%201616&f=false

    Shakespeare actually died eleven days after Cervantes– which was on Tuesday, May 3, 1616, under the newer Gregorian Calendar, which had been instituted in parts of Europe when Shakespeare was 18 years old, but which was not to be instituted in England, and its then-British Empire, including America, until the mid-18th Century (September 1752).

    A period of 400 years happens to comprise one full Gregorian Calendar cycle, versus the simple 28-year cycle of the Julian Calendar that Shakespeare had lived under, across the English Channel from Catholic France.

  56. The main thing that the gay/whatever studies people have picked up on in Shakespeare’s plays is all the cross-dressing. In addition, in one of the plays, As You Like It, Rosalind picks the rather risque name Ganymede for her male name. I’m not sure to what purpose.

    • Replies: @Richard
    People forget that Shakespeare was writing parts for real people. Since the women's parts were played by boys in Shakespeare's day, every time a female character cross-dressed it meant a boy got to actually play a boy on stage. I bet those kids loved that. There's a lot of female-to-male crossdressing in Elizabethan and Jacobean plays, and rather than something Freudian it's probably all about guys like William Shakespeare and John Fletcher remembering their own boyhood and doing something nice for those kids.
  57. Would anyone have imagined the idea (not to mention the phrasing) of ‘gender equality’ 400 years ago, much less Shakespeare? Or even 200 or 100 years ago? This modern tic of analyzing yesterday’s world in light of today’s fads and fashions is silliness on stilts.

    I’ve characterized this attitude, as reflected in the Guardian and Froehlich pieces as, “everything before yesterday is wrong,” where an un-thinking lack of historical context and perspective prevail.

  58. @Anonymous
    One would have thought that by simply applying the brute power of basic mathematics, combining the enormous increase in population since Shakespeare's time, the near universality of literacy, circulation of written media, radio, TV and not least the internet, plus the fact that most educated people in the world study English since grade school, that the earth would produce rather more than one Shakespeare per generation.

    But it has never happened.

    Why?

    This post was inspired by Fremlin's famous overpopulation essay in the New Scientist.

    Thank you. You have eloquently refuted, and without even mentioning it, the absurd thesis that Shakespeare could not have been Shakespeare because he was a country oik.
    He was, very simply, the sort of universal genius you point to. They are God’s undeserved gift to humanity and they come generally out of nowhere and cannot be explained. They are an echo of the divine and are to be accepted and not analysed.
    One other is Wagner; also a country bumpkin (he never lost his broad Saxon accent). Or perhaps his works were the creation of King Ludwig?

    • Agree: Jim Don Bob
  59. With Dante, it is really difficult to get what he is up to without some guidance. The best place to start is Herzman and Cook’s lecture series for the The Great Courses. But you also need to get an edition with really good notes. You also need to keep going past the Inferno.

    Literature can be divided into two classes: that which requires very little in term of scholarly mediation, like Homer and Shakespeare, and that which requires a fair bit of learning to understand, like Dante and Milton. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but the former is obviously going to have a lot more immediate popular appeal.

  60. @Anonymous
    One would have thought that by simply applying the brute power of basic mathematics, combining the enormous increase in population since Shakespeare's time, the near universality of literacy, circulation of written media, radio, TV and not least the internet, plus the fact that most educated people in the world study English since grade school, that the earth would produce rather more than one Shakespeare per generation.

    But it has never happened.

    Why?

    This post was inspired by Fremlin's famous overpopulation essay in the New Scientist.

    High art isn’t a consequence of surplus population, literacy, and mass media. Better civilization produces better art. I can’t tell exactly how or why, nor can I always tell from a distance what is a better or worse civilization. There were plenty of near-Shakespeares in Shakespeare’s time: Marlowe, Johnson, Webster, Middleton, whose plays we still read. Now we have almost none. Why is that? Partly because of the special qualities of Elizabethan England, I presume.

    Democracy is one big problem. Though they’ll categorize Shakespeare’s as a commercial culture, it was an aristocracy. They took religion and the monarchy seriously. Order, rank, tradition, our soul’s place in the universe, all that lends itself easier to drama than whatever it is playwrights care about now. Which is sex and alienation, so far as I know. There must be a reason no one now can write a Tragedy of Lincoln, President of the United States.

    Bourgeois cultures have produced great art, don’t get me wrong. The novel is a better fit for them, however. Not Shakespearean drama.

  61. @Paul Jolliffe
    Steve,

    The authorship question seems like it should be a natural topic for you: mainstream academia has for four centuries been promoting a certain candidate (the historical man from Stratford who did indeed die in 1616) as the author of the 38 plays, the 150+ sonnets, and the two long poems.

    No one has yet written a convincing biography explaining how that man from Stratford could possibly have gained the knowledge necessary to write the Shakespeare Canon. Which is why new biographies of Shakespeare appear every year - they're all trying to explain the impossible, and they can't do it.

    So, here's a prediction for you:

    We will continue to see new biographies written about "Shakespeare" for as long as the narrative remains that the man from Stratford was The Bard.

    That's an absolute certainty. But what the academics refuse to admit is that their carefully crafted narrative of the life of the author of the Shakespeare Canon convinces no one, not even themselves. Thus the never-ending search for any evidence about the life of the man from Stratford. Which, when they find any, doesn't fit with what must have been true of the author of the Canon. So they keep looking and looking.

    And it's not interesting, and you're right, there is nothing new to say about the man from Stratford.

    Now if they were to admit that for four hundred years they had misidentified author of the Canon, well, now that would be interesting!

    The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work. Oxford and Marlowe were dead before many of the plays were put on. Ben Jonson credited Shakespeare with writing his own plays. Etc. etc. etc.

    Shakespeare came from the upper middle class, with a solid grammar school education. He could easily have gotten what knowledge he had (not always as accurate as the alternative author people say) from reading, doing business, and having dealings with the court as poet and playwright.

    • Replies: @guest
    Also, their arguments lean heavily on coincidences between the lives of alternative authors and incidents in the plays. As if "Shakespeare" would have had to live them to write about them.
    , @reiner Tor
    That largely corresponds to what I've read. Sadly, my knowledge is so limited I have to rely on others, and that usually means 100% mainstream, the safest bet when one's totally ignorant of a topic.

    I'd still be happy if other knowledgeable commentators (Syon?) weighed in with their probably mainstreamish opinions.
    , @Paul Jolliffe
    Thursday,

    Surely you know that the key was not when the plays were performed, but when they were written! And since neither you nor anyone else date them precisely, the best anyone can do is to say they were written in the late Elizabethan period. The "experts" can't agree on the dating!

    The truly bizarre conspiracy is that of the Stratfordians who insist that the Stratford man "could" have picked up his knowledge (through "reading" !), when there is not the slightest evidence he actually did so!

    Shakespeare: had been to Italy (and France and Denmark) and had personally seen the version of "Venus and Adonis" that was in Titian's studio. Shakespeare's extensive knowledge of and obvious fascination with Italy generally is reflected in many plays and both of his long poems.

    Stratford man: never traveled more than 30 miles from Stratford.

    Shakespeare: knew what it was to be one of those closest to Elizabeth to "bear the canopy" over her. He could parody Elizabeth's closest advisor, Lord Burghley, without fear as Polonius in a way that completely destroys the Stratford case. Shakespeare, whoever he was, had access to the written advice that Burghley gave to his biological son when heading off to Europe. No one else, and certainly not the commoner from Stratford had the standing to do that.

    Stratford man: not the slightest evidence he ever wrote a play in his life! Read his will! There's nothing there about any proceeds due his estate from any writing whatsoever. But we do know about his "second-best" bed!

    Ben Jonson did write the dedication to the First Folio in 1623 and clearly referenced the man from Stratford. That was the only time Jonson did so. Not on the occasion of the man's death in 1616, but instead during a political crisis years later when it was expedient for the King to publicly back the plays, and Jonson willingly obliged.

    Jonson wrote much in his illustrious career about many things and many people. But outside the one single time in the First Folio, of his supposed friend, "Shakespeare", he had nothing to say.

    Nothing.

    Everyone in the Stratford man's life was illiterate, including his father and his daughter.

    The most basic rule in writing is to write about that which you know.

    The author of the Shakespeare Canon was able to write with such authority because, very simply, he'd been there. He'd done it.

    And that man, whoever he was, sure as hell wasn't the man from Stratford.
    , @vinteuil
    "The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work."

    Unfortunately, you're right.

    If one reads the Sonnets, or Hamlet, thinking that it's DeVere who's writing, everything gets even more interesting than it already was.

    But the Oxfordian hypothesis ultimately depends on Jonathan Revusky style craziness.
    , @syonredux

    The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work. Oxford and Marlowe were dead before many of the plays were put on. Ben Jonson credited Shakespeare with writing his own plays. Etc. etc. etc.
     
    Among the many absurdities of the alternative author hypothesis, the one that I find most risible is the notion that Ben Jonson (of all people!) would go along with it.
    , @James Kabala
    They also are often unclear about what exactly the conspiracy was trying to accomplish. Sometimes they seem to think "the Stratford man" was someone that Oxford actually used as a front, but other times, absurdly, they seem to think that the name was a coincidence and no one thought the Stratford man was Shakespeare until decades afterwards - as if some nobody who happened to be named George Eliot or Mark Twain or George Orwell was mistakenly identified as an author by later generations.
  62. @Bugg
    As to Dante, tried to read "Inferno" a few years back.Basically comes across mostly as a screed against anyone Dante had differences with-popes, bishops, Italian and European politicians and nobles of his time. It along with all of Shakespeare and many other works of long ago are all public domain, so anyone can read it on Kindle or similar services for free. Seen several sites and commentators, particularly Rod Dreher, attempt to read much more spiritual importance into it. Frankly lost on me.Shakespeare is a great storyteller,and that will always hold up.

    With Dante, as with Homer & Vergil, everything depends on the translation. I tried Inferno multiple times & always gave up in annoyance after a few pages, until I discovered Robert Pinsky’s 1995 version, which totally won me over. Terza rima in thoroughly idiomatic English, instead of the usual painful translationese. Give it a try.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Yeah, Dante is not easy to translate well, particularly as his form, terza rima, is so ill suited for English. So, even the better of the translations can be a bit all over the place. Pinsky is among the best. Esolen, Binyon, Musa, and Sinclair (in prose) are also very good.

    It is too bad the late Seamus Heaney didn't continue with his translation, giving up his version after a few Cantos. It would have been the best version in English.
  63. @Steve from Detroit
    Steve,

    Do you put any stock in the Oxford theory of Shakespeare, that the author was actually Edward de Vere?

    Joe Sobran maintained it steadfastly (which is the only way he maintained anything) and it seemed at least persuasive to me. That however means nothing, since my true knowledge of Shakespeare is, let's just say, very limited.

    Those who subscribe to the Oxford theory submit the Sonnets as virtually irrefutable proof that they were written by a man for another man, and although married with many children, it was known that de Vere was gay.

    1. The Oxfordian theory can’t overcome the fact that de Vere died in 1604 and Shakespeare continued producing plays until 1611 or so. The latter plays reference events that happened after de Vere died, most notably a 1609 or 1610 shipwreck referenced in “The Tempest,” produced in 1611. Also, absolutely no one questioned that William of Stratford wrote the plays until the late 19th century; the Oxfordian hypothesis wasn’t mentioned until the 1920’s. Sobran’s opinion was based entirely on snobbery that a writer as great as Shakespeare just HAD to be a nobleman.

    2. Judging by my two teenaged sons and their friends, the Bard of Avon has nothing to fear for his place in the canon. Heck, Cracked.com often features Shakespeare references and lists. Even Dante should be happy, since lots of fantasy fans, and fans of the “Assasin’s Creed” videogames read “The Inferno.”

    3. The best play for girls, and by far the best comedy, is the late “Much Ado About Nothing,” which was a lovely Kenneth Branagh – Emma Thompson play in 1993.

    • Replies: @Paul Jolliffe
    Again, the key is not when the plays were produced on stage, but when they were written. And no one, certainly not you, can say when the plays were written. Mainstream scholars have disagreed with each other for two centuries arguing over the dating of the plays. All anyone can say for sure is that they were written during the latter part of the 16th century and the very early 17th century.

    The shipwreck description in "The Tempest" is too vague to be certain that it refers to an event after Vere was dead. The 1609/10 dating of an actual event was picked by 20th century Stratfordians in a (lame) attempt to disprove the Oxfordians. The Oxfordian case is so strong the Stratfordians had to resort to the weakest arguments, including the cliché "snobbery".

    Whatever.

    We do agree that the author of the Canon was a genius, and high school kids do appreciate him.
  64. @syonredux

    Here’s a question for the Shakespeare experts: are there any gay characters in Shakespeare’s works?
     
    Queer theory types love to speculate on the Hal-Falstaff relationship.....

    And I've also seen Queer readings of Iago...

    Consider in contrast even Dante, whose repute may have peaked about a century ago due to his appeal to WASPs such as T.S. Eliot.
     
    “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.”


    ― T.S. Eliot

    Julius Caesar, which is written in simpler, more Latin-like English, than Shakespeare’s other plays, is the best intro to a Shakespeare play for boys. Henry IV Part I is hugely entertaining for boys, with Falstaff for comedy and a great sympathetic bad guy in Hotspur.
     
    Henry IV, Part I has always been my personal favorite. It provided the material for my first really competent piece of close reading back in my undergrad days.

    Age-Appropriate Shakespeare: I'll toss in Lear as another play that just doesn't really work for younger readers. Indeed, I would argue that you can't truly understand it until someone close to you (parent, spouse, sibling) has died:

    And my poor fool is hanged.—No, no, no life?
    Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
    And thou no breath at all? Oh, thou'lt come no more,
    Never, never, never, never, never.—
    Pray you, undo this button. Thank you, sir.
    Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips.
    Look there, look there. O, O, O, O.

    “you can’t truly understand it until someone close to you…has died”

    I saw King Lear as a relative youngster, and recall the most impactful scene as Gloucester’s blinding. Can’t say why. It should be Cordelia, by all rights. But somehow that wasn’t as impactful.

    They handled the Fool self-indulgently, constructing an elaborate pantomime in silence to demonstrate his demise, which even though I hadn’t yet read the play I knew couldn’t have been prompted by the text.

  65. @blankmisgivings
    Two Antonios - Merchant of Venice and Twelth Night - may be same sex inclined. Obviously a 'gay' identity is absurd presentism when applied to Shakespeare's world - but he does seem to have found same sex attraction an interesting focus - whether from the Marlovian 'pederasty' fad of the times, from his own bisexual inclination, or from the literary influence of Ovid, or all three.

    Needless to say I think Shakespeare's own politics and social theory veer between stoical nihilism, conservative nihilism, cheerful nihilism and vehement nihilism - there is certainly nothing of the progressive in it!

    Some have seen lesbianism in As You Like It, but as is usual in Shakespeare, all supposed same sex attraction is extremely ambiguous, as opposed to in, say, Marlowe, or as opposed to all the heterosexual attraction in Shakespeare himself. For example, Rosalind is obviously very attracted to Orlando, while her affection for Celia can just as easily be seen as close emotional friendship.

    In general, people in those days were more open about expressing affection for members of the same sex, probably because they weren’t automatically thought of as expressing something sexual.

    • Replies: @AKAHorace

    In general, people in those days were more open about expressing affection for members of the same sex, probably because they weren’t automatically thought of as expressing something sexual.
     
    Still like this in many places outside N. America and N. Europe. Is this caused by gay liberation or has it always been like this in our society ?
  66. @Bugg
    As to Dante, tried to read "Inferno" a few years back.Basically comes across mostly as a screed against anyone Dante had differences with-popes, bishops, Italian and European politicians and nobles of his time. It along with all of Shakespeare and many other works of long ago are all public domain, so anyone can read it on Kindle or similar services for free. Seen several sites and commentators, particularly Rod Dreher, attempt to read much more spiritual importance into it. Frankly lost on me.Shakespeare is a great storyteller,and that will always hold up.

    I’ve read the Ciardi translation. Some of the best moments happen in the ascent from Purgatorio to Paradiso. Dante describes the earth dropping away at incredible speed, and his realization that the world is a dusty threshing ground.

    Alternately, the quickest, most evocative way to “skim” the Comedy is to peruse the Gustave Doré engravings (accompanied by key lines translated by Longfellow).

  67. @Thursday
    The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work. Oxford and Marlowe were dead before many of the plays were put on. Ben Jonson credited Shakespeare with writing his own plays. Etc. etc. etc.

    Shakespeare came from the upper middle class, with a solid grammar school education. He could easily have gotten what knowledge he had (not always as accurate as the alternative author people say) from reading, doing business, and having dealings with the court as poet and playwright.

    Also, their arguments lean heavily on coincidences between the lives of alternative authors and incidents in the plays. As if “Shakespeare” would have had to live them to write about them.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Right, one can see this in the thread. The main example is usually the similarity between the plot of Hamlet and the life of Oxford. Of course, the whole situation was quite common in Elizabethan times. Heck, King James' life was similar to Hamlet in exactly the same way as Oxford's.

    Of course, Freud was an Oxfordian, and for him it was a big deal that both Lear and Oxford had three daughters. Imagine that, Shakepeare only had two daughters, so he couldn't have written Lear. Got to write what you know and all that.
  68. @Jack D

    And yet the population of Shakespeare’s England was roughly 53.5% male and 46.5% female.
     
    What a shocking finding! Gotcha, Shakespeare, you sexist pig! Absent wars and other tragedies, the human population of every society at every time in history (including Elizabethan England) is roughly 1/2 male and 1/2 female.

    Liberals desire to impose their standards not only on the present and future but they would like to own the past also. Therefore, people (but only white people) of the past who did not behave according to contemporary norms (even though they were acting completely within the norms of their society) , who own slaves and displace native peoples, etc. must be made into unpersons - remove their faces from our currency, ban their literature, etc. When a Muslim has several wives (each of whom is his teenage first cousin) then liberals shout that you can't apply contemporary Western standards to other cultures, but the Europeans of 1600 are supposed to act exactly like SWPLs of 2016, so Shakespeare is a badthinker because women don't get 50% of the speeches in his plays.

    “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

    -George Orwell, 1984

  69. @Jonathan Mason
    I cannot think of any gay characters in Shakespeare, though possibly some of the characters in the Roman plays may have dabbled in real life. There are plenty of characters in the comedies where members of one sex are disguised as members of another, but usually the word "unnatural" means someone who does not love their parent, rather than someone who loves their fellow man a little too much.

    Evaluating Shakespeare is a bit like critiquing mother's cooking, or God's creativity. Since Shakespeare practically invented the modern English language and influenced almost every English writer and reader since, his works just ARE what they are.

    “Shakespeare practically invented the modern English language”

    Though I think this statement ridiculous, the volume of Shakespeare words on phrases in common coinage is mind boggling. He has to be second only to the Bible.

  70. Leftist conservative [AKA "Make Unz.com Great Again"] says: • Website
    @Paul Jolliffe
    Steve,

    The authorship question seems like it should be a natural topic for you: mainstream academia has for four centuries been promoting a certain candidate (the historical man from Stratford who did indeed die in 1616) as the author of the 38 plays, the 150+ sonnets, and the two long poems.

    No one has yet written a convincing biography explaining how that man from Stratford could possibly have gained the knowledge necessary to write the Shakespeare Canon. Which is why new biographies of Shakespeare appear every year - they're all trying to explain the impossible, and they can't do it.

    So, here's a prediction for you:

    We will continue to see new biographies written about "Shakespeare" for as long as the narrative remains that the man from Stratford was The Bard.

    That's an absolute certainty. But what the academics refuse to admit is that their carefully crafted narrative of the life of the author of the Shakespeare Canon convinces no one, not even themselves. Thus the never-ending search for any evidence about the life of the man from Stratford. Which, when they find any, doesn't fit with what must have been true of the author of the Canon. So they keep looking and looking.

    And it's not interesting, and you're right, there is nothing new to say about the man from Stratford.

    Now if they were to admit that for four hundred years they had misidentified author of the Canon, well, now that would be interesting!

    I think Edward DeVere wrote most of the plays…but like hollywood movies, I think the plays had co-authors and were often extensively rewritten, sometimes many years after they were first performed on stage.

    Just as script doctors rewrite, revise and edit hollywood movies…shake-spear’s plays also had script doctors, no doubt…
    also, the actors usually modify the script, sometimes making extensive modifications via ad-libs. They did likewise in shake-spear’s time.

    Books are often extensively revised by publishing house editors.

    When I wrote news-scripts for TV news, the anchors would usually modify the scripts to some extent.

    Writing is usually a collaborative effort.

    I think shake-spear’s plays were collaborations. But DeVere’s fingerprints are all over them. The plays are in great part his life story. And if the study of literature teaches us one thing, it is that great writing typically comes from a person’s life background.

  71. @Priss Factor
    Freud and Shakespeare

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsXKT5RhJf8

    http://www.mrbauld.com/bloomshk.html


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7migrps-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4w59zkgTR0

    Nice.

    You know, when he was asking, “What do you want to be,” I was half expecting him to answer, ‘…a lumberjack!’

  72. @Thursday
    Some have seen lesbianism in As You Like It, but as is usual in Shakespeare, all supposed same sex attraction is extremely ambiguous, as opposed to in, say, Marlowe, or as opposed to all the heterosexual attraction in Shakespeare himself. For example, Rosalind is obviously very attracted to Orlando, while her affection for Celia can just as easily be seen as close emotional friendship.

    In general, people in those days were more open about expressing affection for members of the same sex, probably because they weren't automatically thought of as expressing something sexual.

    In general, people in those days were more open about expressing affection for members of the same sex, probably because they weren’t automatically thought of as expressing something sexual.

    Still like this in many places outside N. America and N. Europe. Is this caused by gay liberation or has it always been like this in our society ?

  73. @Bugg
    As to Dante, tried to read "Inferno" a few years back.Basically comes across mostly as a screed against anyone Dante had differences with-popes, bishops, Italian and European politicians and nobles of his time. It along with all of Shakespeare and many other works of long ago are all public domain, so anyone can read it on Kindle or similar services for free. Seen several sites and commentators, particularly Rod Dreher, attempt to read much more spiritual importance into it. Frankly lost on me.Shakespeare is a great storyteller,and that will always hold up.

    In his screeds against the people Dante didn’t write he tells stories, however. Ugolino and his sons starving in their cell, for instance, is high drama. I’ve always been partial to Ulysses’ story in Purgatory.

    But you might not notice, because the author assumes an incredible amount of prior knowledge, of Renaissance Florentine politics, of the Catholic Church, of Christian culture, and so forth. Same with the spiritual vision behind the work. Most of it will be lost on you if you don’t have a background in it, and even if you do you have to pay careful attention to the geographical layout of help, as well as the stars and countless little things.

    Which shouldn’t matter to you if you don’t find the surface attractive. I can understand not being able to “get into” Dante. That’s an artist’s job: to draw you in, even after multiple centuries. A better translation and good footnotes will help. There’s a problem with this, in that you might find yourself puzzling through the poetry, waiting until you can flip to the back to find out what you just read. Then you understand it better, or perhaps are misled but feel you do, but then your artistic experience is secondhand, like reading a review of a play instead of the play itself. You could go back and read the text again. In fact, I recommend reading through works as whole without bothering to understand, then going back with a fine-toothed comb and outside help. But most people aren’t willing to dedicate that much time to it.

    I can guarantee you will be compensated. Unlike with, say, serial composition in classical music. They tell me it’s worked out from a complex underlying system, but I don’t care. It sounds like nonsense. Dante does not sound like nonsense, even if you have no idea what he’s saying.

  74. @Thursday
    The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work. Oxford and Marlowe were dead before many of the plays were put on. Ben Jonson credited Shakespeare with writing his own plays. Etc. etc. etc.

    Shakespeare came from the upper middle class, with a solid grammar school education. He could easily have gotten what knowledge he had (not always as accurate as the alternative author people say) from reading, doing business, and having dealings with the court as poet and playwright.

    That largely corresponds to what I’ve read. Sadly, my knowledge is so limited I have to rely on others, and that usually means 100% mainstream, the safest bet when one’s totally ignorant of a topic.

    I’d still be happy if other knowledgeable commentators (Syon?) weighed in with their probably mainstreamish opinions.

  75. @Priss Factor
    Linklater on genius Welles on genius Shakespeare.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfYHtNMfuwQ

    Chimes at Midnight, the greatest Shakes movie:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAs2bL4Sasw

    Welles Macbeth, made in 2 weeks, is also remarkable. His Othello is seriously flawed but the opening scene is pure genius.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LnuQZ6VD_Y

    Shakes inspires geniuses, defeats phonies. Branagh is a phony.

    Ethan Hawke's Hamlet is unwatchable.

    https://newrepublic.com/article/121721/orson-welles-100th-birthday-retrospective-stanley-kauffmann

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LnuQZ6VD_Y

    Agree, Chimes at Midnight is the best cinematic Shakespeare. I wept at the end when Falstaff’s body was trundled away in a huge tin coffin.

    Fall-Staff

    Shake-Speare

  76. The Bechdel Test

    Key point about the Bechdel Test: It was devised by Lesbians who have no interest in the things that hetero women talk about.

    For example, I know a lot of Lesbian Lit academics, and they all find Jane Austen quite boring…..

    • Replies: @Jack D
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/Alison_Bechdel_at_Politics_and_Prose.jpg

    I think this picture may give you a hint as to what degree the interests of Alison Bechdel align with those of other women.

    Since (as we know from earlier in the article), men represent around 1/2 the population of the planet, why is it necessary in order to pass the "test", that when two women speak the male half of the planet must go completely unmentioned? Aren't relationships between men and women a popular topic of conversation among normal women?
    , @James Kabala
    I am also under the impression that, like so many other things in this world, this was invented as a joke and has been taken far too seriously by proponents (and opponents).
  77. On your Dante discursion:
    My great grandmother and her two daughters did not “try to spend time” in Dante’s home town of Florence, but lived there for a year in 1907-08. They rented rooms in the Palazzo Canigiani, where Sir John Pope Hennessy the art historian later lived and died.
    They studied art and music and looked for husbands, but weren’t really rich enough to attract the odd impoverished duke. Nor pretty enough for that matter.
    Their mother showed her limitations by ordering copies made of works of art which took her fancy rather than casting round for less-famous originals. At family gatherings we tend to stare at those which remain and shake our heads at her lack of foresight.
    But she did have a life size portrait of the daughters painted which was reproduced in Harper’s Monthly Magazine. I won’t name the artist, but I can say that it knocks the socks off many a work by Sargent.
    I can’t pretend that this has anything to do with Shakespeare, but I can drag a playwright into it: at college in the 1870’s she became best friends for life with the mother of America’s greatest dramatist, but since she is mentioned in books about him, I’ll let you guess who that might be.

    • Replies: @AKAHorace
    Eugene O'Neil ?
  78. @Priss Factor
    The new Macbeth movie with Fassbender and Coitillard sucks so bad.

    Lasted 20 min and FF the rest.

    Artsy, pictorialist, belabored and strained. Overly stylized.
    Yet, it also tries to be gritty and naturalistic. Cancels itself out.

    Shakes language works as rhetoric in artificial space. It generally doesn't work in the realism of cinema.

    This is why Kurosawa's adaptations are among the best. He just took the ideas and left out the language.

    Only Welles made the language work onscreen, but then he was a genius. And he used the language cinematically, musically than rhetorically.

    But Polanski and Kosintsev did respectable work with Shakespeare.

    The Zefferelli versions have some good acting, esp Richard Burton in Shrew.
    But Zeffy wasn't much of a film maker. He relied mostly on tricks and pomp.

    “Shakes[peare’s] language works as rhetoric in artificial space. It generally doesn’t work in the realism of cinema.

    “This is why Kurosawa’s adaptations are among the best. He just took the ideas and left out the language.”

    Well…maybe.

    I wonder if Verdi’s two greatest works – Otello & Falstaff – could be fit into this thesis.

  79. @Thursday
    The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work. Oxford and Marlowe were dead before many of the plays were put on. Ben Jonson credited Shakespeare with writing his own plays. Etc. etc. etc.

    Shakespeare came from the upper middle class, with a solid grammar school education. He could easily have gotten what knowledge he had (not always as accurate as the alternative author people say) from reading, doing business, and having dealings with the court as poet and playwright.

    Thursday,

    Surely you know that the key was not when the plays were performed, but when they were written! And since neither you nor anyone else date them precisely, the best anyone can do is to say they were written in the late Elizabethan period. The “experts” can’t agree on the dating!

    The truly bizarre conspiracy is that of the Stratfordians who insist that the Stratford man “could” have picked up his knowledge (through “reading” !), when there is not the slightest evidence he actually did so!

    Shakespeare: had been to Italy (and France and Denmark) and had personally seen the version of “Venus and Adonis” that was in Titian’s studio. Shakespeare’s extensive knowledge of and obvious fascination with Italy generally is reflected in many plays and both of his long poems.

    Stratford man: never traveled more than 30 miles from Stratford.

    Shakespeare: knew what it was to be one of those closest to Elizabeth to “bear the canopy” over her. He could parody Elizabeth’s closest advisor, Lord Burghley, without fear as Polonius in a way that completely destroys the Stratford case. Shakespeare, whoever he was, had access to the written advice that Burghley gave to his biological son when heading off to Europe. No one else, and certainly not the commoner from Stratford had the standing to do that.

    Stratford man: not the slightest evidence he ever wrote a play in his life! Read his will! There’s nothing there about any proceeds due his estate from any writing whatsoever. But we do know about his “second-best” bed!

    Ben Jonson did write the dedication to the First Folio in 1623 and clearly referenced the man from Stratford. That was the only time Jonson did so. Not on the occasion of the man’s death in 1616, but instead during a political crisis years later when it was expedient for the King to publicly back the plays, and Jonson willingly obliged.

    Jonson wrote much in his illustrious career about many things and many people. But outside the one single time in the First Folio, of his supposed friend, “Shakespeare”, he had nothing to say.

    Nothing.

    Everyone in the Stratford man’s life was illiterate, including his father and his daughter.

    The most basic rule in writing is to write about that which you know.

    The author of the Shakespeare Canon was able to write with such authority because, very simply, he’d been there. He’d done it.

    And that man, whoever he was, sure as hell wasn’t the man from Stratford.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    You're getting basic facts wrong.
    , @FirkinRidiculous

    Jonson wrote much in his illustrious career about many things and many people. But outside the one single time in the First Folio, of his supposed friend, “Shakespeare”, he had nothing to say.

    Nothing.
     
    Not quite. See: http://www.bartleby.com/27/2.html
  80. @Steve from Detroit
    Steve,

    Do you put any stock in the Oxford theory of Shakespeare, that the author was actually Edward de Vere?

    Joe Sobran maintained it steadfastly (which is the only way he maintained anything) and it seemed at least persuasive to me. That however means nothing, since my true knowledge of Shakespeare is, let's just say, very limited.

    Those who subscribe to the Oxford theory submit the Sonnets as virtually irrefutable proof that they were written by a man for another man, and although married with many children, it was known that de Vere was gay.

    It’s doubtful Vere was gay. I read Joe Sobran’s book years ago, and while Sobran made many excellent points, I think he missed what was going on in some of the sonnets.

    Vere had six kids by THREE DIFFERENT WOMEN over the course of several years.

    Gay men don’t do that.

    It is vaguely possible he was a bi-sexual, but unlikely at best.

    The more likely explanation for some of the sonnets is that they were written as Southampton was seriously considering marrying Vere’s daughter, a marriage which ultimately did not happen.

    Vere is an excellent candidate as the author, although it is possible that he was the head of the English propaganda machine that included younger talents such as Marlowe, who may or may not have died in 1591. But that’s another story. . .

  81. @Anonymous

    Even today, however, Shakespeare continues to electrify the Theater Kids. And in a culture war, that’s who you want — the good-looking and limelight-seeking girls and boys — in your foxhole.
     
    The Theater Kids tend not to be very cool. They tend to be nerdy and dorky.

    But they go on to write stuff, and that influences the culture.

  82. @syonredux

    The Bechdel Test
     
    Key point about the Bechdel Test: It was devised by Lesbians who have no interest in the things that hetero women talk about.

    For example, I know a lot of Lesbian Lit academics, and they all find Jane Austen quite boring.....

    I think this picture may give you a hint as to what degree the interests of Alison Bechdel align with those of other women.

    Since (as we know from earlier in the article), men represent around 1/2 the population of the planet, why is it necessary in order to pass the “test”, that when two women speak the male half of the planet must go completely unmentioned? Aren’t relationships between men and women a popular topic of conversation among normal women?

    • Replies: @Anonymous Nephew
    Blimey. She looks like a young Ralph Miliband, father of ex-UK Labour leader Ed and brother David.

    https://static-secure.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/About/General/2013/10/2/1380725055689/Ralph-Miliband-lecturing--008.jpg
  83. Ed says:

    I find the authorship controversy amazingly tedious. I agree with the view of Thursday above, but also like Mark Twain’s take, that the plays were written by Shakespeare or by someone else with the same name.

    More interesting is the question of whether the plays, and especially the sonnets, are overrated. This was the view of Shaw and Tolkien, for different reasons. One striking thing about English literature is how few of the greatest writers of English are English. Once England became a world power, they needed a national literary hero, so a Shakespeare cult was built up. The alternative candidates from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries tended to Tories and critics of the establishment.

    The problem with the idolatry is that people refuse to accept that “Shakespeare” could write anything bad. I had “Romeo and Juliet”, “Macbeth”, “Richard II”, and “Julius Caesar” inflicted on me in high school. “Romeo and Juliet” is outright bad, so bad that most people completely miss the point of the play, and enough to sour on me on Shakespeare for life, though fortunately later I discovered that his other works were good or even great. “Macbeth” is like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie put on stage. “Richard II”, which is discussed by another commentator, is OK and “Julius Caesar” is good, but I wish had never read or seen “Romeo and Juliet” or “Macbeth”.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    A lot of non-English authors consider Shakespeare the greatest dramatist of all times and all languages, or at least one of the very greatest. For example I know for sure that that's the standard view in Hungary.
  84. @Priss Factor
    The new Macbeth movie with Fassbender and Coitillard sucks so bad.

    Lasted 20 min and FF the rest.

    Artsy, pictorialist, belabored and strained. Overly stylized.
    Yet, it also tries to be gritty and naturalistic. Cancels itself out.

    Shakes language works as rhetoric in artificial space. It generally doesn't work in the realism of cinema.

    This is why Kurosawa's adaptations are among the best. He just took the ideas and left out the language.

    Only Welles made the language work onscreen, but then he was a genius. And he used the language cinematically, musically than rhetorically.

    But Polanski and Kosintsev did respectable work with Shakespeare.

    The Zefferelli versions have some good acting, esp Richard Burton in Shrew.
    But Zeffy wasn't much of a film maker. He relied mostly on tricks and pomp.

    The Zefferelli versions have some good acting, esp Richard Burton in Shrew.
    But Zeffy wasn’t much of a film maker. He relied mostly on tricks and pomp.

    Anyone else notice the mistake in R and J where Zefferelli decided to leave out the final fight scene between Romeo and Paris but forgot to change the the closing speech by the Prince: “….for winking at your dischords I have lost a brace of kinsmen”? Due to the change, he only lost one kinsman.

  85. @Thursday
    The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work. Oxford and Marlowe were dead before many of the plays were put on. Ben Jonson credited Shakespeare with writing his own plays. Etc. etc. etc.

    Shakespeare came from the upper middle class, with a solid grammar school education. He could easily have gotten what knowledge he had (not always as accurate as the alternative author people say) from reading, doing business, and having dealings with the court as poet and playwright.

    “The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work.”

    Unfortunately, you’re right.

    If one reads the Sonnets, or Hamlet, thinking that it’s DeVere who’s writing, everything gets even more interesting than it already was.

    But the Oxfordian hypothesis ultimately depends on Jonathan Revusky style craziness.

  86. @Ed
    I find the authorship controversy amazingly tedious. I agree with the view of Thursday above, but also like Mark Twain's take, that the plays were written by Shakespeare or by someone else with the same name.

    More interesting is the question of whether the plays, and especially the sonnets, are overrated. This was the view of Shaw and Tolkien, for different reasons. One striking thing about English literature is how few of the greatest writers of English are English. Once England became a world power, they needed a national literary hero, so a Shakespeare cult was built up. The alternative candidates from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries tended to Tories and critics of the establishment.

    The problem with the idolatry is that people refuse to accept that "Shakespeare" could write anything bad. I had "Romeo and Juliet", "Macbeth", "Richard II", and "Julius Caesar" inflicted on me in high school. "Romeo and Juliet" is outright bad, so bad that most people completely miss the point of the play, and enough to sour on me on Shakespeare for life, though fortunately later I discovered that his other works were good or even great. "Macbeth" is like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie put on stage. "Richard II", which is discussed by another commentator, is OK and "Julius Caesar" is good, but I wish had never read or seen "Romeo and Juliet" or "Macbeth".

    A lot of non-English authors consider Shakespeare the greatest dramatist of all times and all languages, or at least one of the very greatest. For example I know for sure that that’s the standard view in Hungary.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
    "...that’s the standard view in Hungary."

    Yes. Check out the schedule at the Hungarian State Opera.
    , @Steve Sailer
    The Romantic impetus spread all across Europe at the end of the 18th Century, and the bright young men of Europe suddenly noticed that Shakespeare had accomplished 200 years before what they wanted to do.

    So, Shakespeare has been the undisputed heavyweight champ of modern literature for about 200 to 225 years now. Before 1800 he'd been big, but the Romantics got Shakespeare in a way that the Enlightenment hadn't really done so.
  87. Can’t believe there were 60+ comments to this post, and no one has yet pointed out that 100% of Shakespeare’s speeches for women were delivered by male actors.

    Or, think of it like this: 81% were delivered by men, an 17% were delivered by members of the Elizabethan LGBTT community (with the second “T” standing for “Transvestite”).

  88. @Jack D
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/Alison_Bechdel_at_Politics_and_Prose.jpg

    I think this picture may give you a hint as to what degree the interests of Alison Bechdel align with those of other women.

    Since (as we know from earlier in the article), men represent around 1/2 the population of the planet, why is it necessary in order to pass the "test", that when two women speak the male half of the planet must go completely unmentioned? Aren't relationships between men and women a popular topic of conversation among normal women?

    Blimey. She looks like a young Ralph Miliband, father of ex-UK Labour leader Ed and brother David.

  89. @Paul Jolliffe
    Steve,

    The authorship question seems like it should be a natural topic for you: mainstream academia has for four centuries been promoting a certain candidate (the historical man from Stratford who did indeed die in 1616) as the author of the 38 plays, the 150+ sonnets, and the two long poems.

    No one has yet written a convincing biography explaining how that man from Stratford could possibly have gained the knowledge necessary to write the Shakespeare Canon. Which is why new biographies of Shakespeare appear every year - they're all trying to explain the impossible, and they can't do it.

    So, here's a prediction for you:

    We will continue to see new biographies written about "Shakespeare" for as long as the narrative remains that the man from Stratford was The Bard.

    That's an absolute certainty. But what the academics refuse to admit is that their carefully crafted narrative of the life of the author of the Shakespeare Canon convinces no one, not even themselves. Thus the never-ending search for any evidence about the life of the man from Stratford. Which, when they find any, doesn't fit with what must have been true of the author of the Canon. So they keep looking and looking.

    And it's not interesting, and you're right, there is nothing new to say about the man from Stratford.

    Now if they were to admit that for four hundred years they had misidentified author of the Canon, well, now that would be interesting!

    Edward DeVere, 17th Earl of Oxford was the true author. There is a book by Joseph Sobran, “Alias Shakespeare” ( sub title, “Solving the Greatest Literart Mystery of All Time”)

  90. Even today, however, Shakespeare continues to electrify the Theater Kids. And in a culture war, that’s who you want — the good-looking and limelight-seeking girls and boys — in your foxhole.

    Which is why the Hamilton musical is important.

  91. @Priss Factor
    The new Macbeth movie with Fassbender and Coitillard sucks so bad.

    Lasted 20 min and FF the rest.

    Artsy, pictorialist, belabored and strained. Overly stylized.
    Yet, it also tries to be gritty and naturalistic. Cancels itself out.

    Shakes language works as rhetoric in artificial space. It generally doesn't work in the realism of cinema.

    This is why Kurosawa's adaptations are among the best. He just took the ideas and left out the language.

    Only Welles made the language work onscreen, but then he was a genius. And he used the language cinematically, musically than rhetorically.

    But Polanski and Kosintsev did respectable work with Shakespeare.

    The Zefferelli versions have some good acting, esp Richard Burton in Shrew.
    But Zeffy wasn't much of a film maker. He relied mostly on tricks and pomp.

    Top ten Shakespeare films, in no particular order:

    1 Hamlet (dir. Branagh, 1996)

    2 Julius Caesar (dir. Mankiewicz, 1953)

    3 Macbeth (dir. Polanski, 1971)

    4 Taming of the Shrew (dir. Zeffirelli, 1967)

    5 Much Ado about Nothing (dir. Branagh, 1993)

    6 12th Night (dir. Nunn, 1996)

    7 Henry V (dir. Branagh, 1989)

    8 Richard III (dir. Olivier, 1955)

    9 Romeo & Juliet (dir. Zeffirelli, 1968)

    10 Henry V (dir. Olivier, 1944)

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Best Versions of Shakespeare I've encountered.

    -----

    Movies

    Olivier's Henry V
    Welles' Othello
    Welles' Chimes at Midnight
    Kosintsev's King Lear (in Russian)
    Mankiewicz' Julius Caesar

    Kurosawa's two Shakespeare films are good, but have none of his language! I don't like Zeffirelli, or Polanski for Shakespeare. Olivier's Hamlet is all over the place, from brilliant to terrible. Branagh and Nunn have done better work in their television adaptations.

    Criterion is supposed to be coming out with BluRay of Chimes at Midnight very soon.

    -----

    TV

    Nunn's Macbeth (with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench)
    Nunn's Merchant of Venice
    Branagh's Twelfth Night

    Jonathan Miller's Othello has an unbelievably good Iago in Bob Hoskins, though overall his version is only so-so. I have been meaning to see the old Age of Kings adaptations.

    -----

    Audio

    Hamlet (with John Gielgud)
    Romeo and Juliet (with Kate Beckinsale)
    The Tempest (with Ian McKellen)

    -----

    So, overall, you have decent coverage of Shakespeare's major plays in performance.
    , @Richard
    I couldn't stand Branagh's bombastic "Hamlet". The best Hamlet I've ever seen is a cheap, made for television production from the 1980s starring Derek Jacobi.
  92. @reiner Tor
    A lot of non-English authors consider Shakespeare the greatest dramatist of all times and all languages, or at least one of the very greatest. For example I know for sure that that's the standard view in Hungary.

    “…that’s the standard view in Hungary.”

    Yes. Check out the schedule at the Hungarian State Opera.

  93. @SFG
    Why would there be any assumption theater people were gay 400 years ago?

    I'm sure flamboyant types were drawn to drama throughout the ages, but it was a mainstream entertainment, probably similar to popular music in our own era. A lot of guys with big personalities probably did it to get ladies.

    but it was a mainstream entertainment

    Yes, but working in the theater, and acting in particular, was not entirely respectable. You would expect such a profession to draw a raffish element, at least some of whom would have had outlaw/rebel tendencies, and to push the boundaries of acceptable behavior. (These things are still true today, to the point that someone who leads what anywhere else would be considered an unremarkably normal life, like Tom Hanks, is held up as an icon of respectability.) You would also expect homosexuals to be drawn to such an environment because they themselves were outlaws and because they could get away with a little more than could in ordinary society.

    While I agree that the media and homosexuals themselves wildly exaggerate their presence in entertainment – and in life generally – it doesn’t seem entirely illogical that there would be a disproportionate number in the theater compared to more conventional environments.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Not to mention that only males were allowed to act in plays during the Elizabethan era, up until 1660; which means even women's parts were played by men. On top of that, the Globe Theatre was located in the seedier part of Greater London (Southwark), an area known for its prostitution and cock fights. So at minimum, theatre was as gay then as it is now.
  94. One of the first big urban riots in American history was occasioned by a rivalry of Shakespearean actors:

    Astor Place Riot

  95. @Paul Jolliffe
    Steve,

    The authorship question seems like it should be a natural topic for you: mainstream academia has for four centuries been promoting a certain candidate (the historical man from Stratford who did indeed die in 1616) as the author of the 38 plays, the 150+ sonnets, and the two long poems.

    No one has yet written a convincing biography explaining how that man from Stratford could possibly have gained the knowledge necessary to write the Shakespeare Canon. Which is why new biographies of Shakespeare appear every year - they're all trying to explain the impossible, and they can't do it.

    So, here's a prediction for you:

    We will continue to see new biographies written about "Shakespeare" for as long as the narrative remains that the man from Stratford was The Bard.

    That's an absolute certainty. But what the academics refuse to admit is that their carefully crafted narrative of the life of the author of the Shakespeare Canon convinces no one, not even themselves. Thus the never-ending search for any evidence about the life of the man from Stratford. Which, when they find any, doesn't fit with what must have been true of the author of the Canon. So they keep looking and looking.

    And it's not interesting, and you're right, there is nothing new to say about the man from Stratford.

    Now if they were to admit that for four hundred years they had misidentified author of the Canon, well, now that would be interesting!

    What is the motive for a centuries-long conspiracy to promote the possibly-literate Stratford man?

    (Incidentally, I agree that the evidence is most strongly on the strong of the Oxford-as-author theory.)

    • Replies: @FirkinRidiculous

    What is the motive for a centuries-long conspiracy to promote the possibly-literate Stratford man?
     
    The original motive wasn't a jolly jape to promote the Stratford stroller, but a careful plan to protect the identity of de Vere, and that died with the original conspirators. The rest is historical inertia.
  96. Werner Twertzog takes the under on your “What about the future” prop:

    http://twitter.com/WernerTwertzog/status/723833975182110721

  97. @Jenner Ickham Errican

    Age-Appropriate Shakespeare: I’ll toss in Lear as another play that just doesn’t really work for younger readers.

    Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips.
    Look there, look there. O, O, O, O.
     
    In days of yore, when I was fast approaching majority, this bard was by far the most heralded poet throughout the land.

    You’re welcome, pal— OHHHH!

    Age-Appropriate Shakespeare: I’ll toss in Lear as another play that just doesn’t really work for younger readers.

    Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips.
    Look there, look there. O, O, O, O.

    In days of yore, when I was fast approaching majority, this bard was by far the most heralded poet throughout the land.

    You’re welcome, pal— OHHHH!

    Yeah, as I said, Lear is a play whose power can only be felt by those who have experienced real loss.Cf Dr Johnson’s statement:

    “I was many years ago so shocked by Cordelia’s death, that I know not whether I ever endured to read again the last scenes of the play till I undertook to revise them as an editor.”

  98. @Thursday
    The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work. Oxford and Marlowe were dead before many of the plays were put on. Ben Jonson credited Shakespeare with writing his own plays. Etc. etc. etc.

    Shakespeare came from the upper middle class, with a solid grammar school education. He could easily have gotten what knowledge he had (not always as accurate as the alternative author people say) from reading, doing business, and having dealings with the court as poet and playwright.

    The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work. Oxford and Marlowe were dead before many of the plays were put on. Ben Jonson credited Shakespeare with writing his own plays. Etc. etc. etc.

    Among the many absurdities of the alternative author hypothesis, the one that I find most risible is the notion that Ben Jonson (of all people!) would go along with it.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Right, he not only writes the whole Folio dedicatory poem but discusses Shakespeare in his table talk, all as if Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. The latter makes him sound a bit jealous and resentful of Shakespeare. The idea that he would have gone along with the whole conspiracy is silly.
    , @FirkinRidiculous
    Have a look at http://www.anonymous-shakespeare.com/cms/index.21.0.1.html

    Whenever Shakespeare appears in print, de Vere's relatives or associates are close at hand, whilst their connection to the Stratford stroller remains completely elusive.
  99. @Paul Jolliffe
    Thursday,

    Surely you know that the key was not when the plays were performed, but when they were written! And since neither you nor anyone else date them precisely, the best anyone can do is to say they were written in the late Elizabethan period. The "experts" can't agree on the dating!

    The truly bizarre conspiracy is that of the Stratfordians who insist that the Stratford man "could" have picked up his knowledge (through "reading" !), when there is not the slightest evidence he actually did so!

    Shakespeare: had been to Italy (and France and Denmark) and had personally seen the version of "Venus and Adonis" that was in Titian's studio. Shakespeare's extensive knowledge of and obvious fascination with Italy generally is reflected in many plays and both of his long poems.

    Stratford man: never traveled more than 30 miles from Stratford.

    Shakespeare: knew what it was to be one of those closest to Elizabeth to "bear the canopy" over her. He could parody Elizabeth's closest advisor, Lord Burghley, without fear as Polonius in a way that completely destroys the Stratford case. Shakespeare, whoever he was, had access to the written advice that Burghley gave to his biological son when heading off to Europe. No one else, and certainly not the commoner from Stratford had the standing to do that.

    Stratford man: not the slightest evidence he ever wrote a play in his life! Read his will! There's nothing there about any proceeds due his estate from any writing whatsoever. But we do know about his "second-best" bed!

    Ben Jonson did write the dedication to the First Folio in 1623 and clearly referenced the man from Stratford. That was the only time Jonson did so. Not on the occasion of the man's death in 1616, but instead during a political crisis years later when it was expedient for the King to publicly back the plays, and Jonson willingly obliged.

    Jonson wrote much in his illustrious career about many things and many people. But outside the one single time in the First Folio, of his supposed friend, "Shakespeare", he had nothing to say.

    Nothing.

    Everyone in the Stratford man's life was illiterate, including his father and his daughter.

    The most basic rule in writing is to write about that which you know.

    The author of the Shakespeare Canon was able to write with such authority because, very simply, he'd been there. He'd done it.

    And that man, whoever he was, sure as hell wasn't the man from Stratford.

    You’re getting basic facts wrong.

  100. @syonredux

    The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work. Oxford and Marlowe were dead before many of the plays were put on. Ben Jonson credited Shakespeare with writing his own plays. Etc. etc. etc.
     
    Among the many absurdities of the alternative author hypothesis, the one that I find most risible is the notion that Ben Jonson (of all people!) would go along with it.

    Right, he not only writes the whole Folio dedicatory poem but discusses Shakespeare in his table talk, all as if Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. The latter makes him sound a bit jealous and resentful of Shakespeare. The idea that he would have gone along with the whole conspiracy is silly.

  101. @guest
    Also, their arguments lean heavily on coincidences between the lives of alternative authors and incidents in the plays. As if "Shakespeare" would have had to live them to write about them.

    Right, one can see this in the thread. The main example is usually the similarity between the plot of Hamlet and the life of Oxford. Of course, the whole situation was quite common in Elizabethan times. Heck, King James’ life was similar to Hamlet in exactly the same way as Oxford’s.

    Of course, Freud was an Oxfordian, and for him it was a big deal that both Lear and Oxford had three daughters. Imagine that, Shakepeare only had two daughters, so he couldn’t have written Lear. Got to write what you know and all that.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    I know its know it's hard to believe, but authors often get their ideas from reading, observing, and . . . imagining.
  102. @Thursday
    Right, one can see this in the thread. The main example is usually the similarity between the plot of Hamlet and the life of Oxford. Of course, the whole situation was quite common in Elizabethan times. Heck, King James' life was similar to Hamlet in exactly the same way as Oxford's.

    Of course, Freud was an Oxfordian, and for him it was a big deal that both Lear and Oxford had three daughters. Imagine that, Shakepeare only had two daughters, so he couldn't have written Lear. Got to write what you know and all that.

    I know its know it’s hard to believe, but authors often get their ideas from reading, observing, and . . . imagining.

  103. @syonredux

    Here’s a question for the Shakespeare experts: are there any gay characters in Shakespeare’s works?
     
    Queer theory types love to speculate on the Hal-Falstaff relationship.....

    And I've also seen Queer readings of Iago...

    Consider in contrast even Dante, whose repute may have peaked about a century ago due to his appeal to WASPs such as T.S. Eliot.
     
    “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.”


    ― T.S. Eliot

    Julius Caesar, which is written in simpler, more Latin-like English, than Shakespeare’s other plays, is the best intro to a Shakespeare play for boys. Henry IV Part I is hugely entertaining for boys, with Falstaff for comedy and a great sympathetic bad guy in Hotspur.
     
    Henry IV, Part I has always been my personal favorite. It provided the material for my first really competent piece of close reading back in my undergrad days.

    Age-Appropriate Shakespeare: I'll toss in Lear as another play that just doesn't really work for younger readers. Indeed, I would argue that you can't truly understand it until someone close to you (parent, spouse, sibling) has died:

    And my poor fool is hanged.—No, no, no life?
    Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
    And thou no breath at all? Oh, thou'lt come no more,
    Never, never, never, never, never.—
    Pray you, undo this button. Thank you, sir.
    Do you see this? Look on her. Look, her lips.
    Look there, look there. O, O, O, O.

    You sure that last bit isn’t a dirty joke? He was quite fond of them, as your English teacher probably never told you (though mine did).

    • Replies: @syonredux

    You sure that last bit isn’t a dirty joke? He was quite fond of them, as your English teacher probably never told you (though mine did).
     
    My English teachers loved to dilate on "country matters."

    As for that last bit being a "dirty joke," just about any inarticulate cry can be read in that fashion.
  104. @syonredux

    The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work. Oxford and Marlowe were dead before many of the plays were put on. Ben Jonson credited Shakespeare with writing his own plays. Etc. etc. etc.
     
    Among the many absurdities of the alternative author hypothesis, the one that I find most risible is the notion that Ben Jonson (of all people!) would go along with it.

    Have a look at http://www.anonymous-shakespeare.com/cms/index.21.0.1.html

    Whenever Shakespeare appears in print, de Vere’s relatives or associates are close at hand, whilst their connection to the Stratford stroller remains completely elusive.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Have a look at http://www.anonymous-shakespeare.com/cms/index.21.0.1.html

    Whenever Shakespeare appears in print, de Vere’s relatives or associates are close at hand, whilst their connection to the Stratford stroller remains completely elusive.
     
    That was about as convincing as the old nonsense about Baconian ciphers.
  105. @Paul Jolliffe
    Thursday,

    Surely you know that the key was not when the plays were performed, but when they were written! And since neither you nor anyone else date them precisely, the best anyone can do is to say they were written in the late Elizabethan period. The "experts" can't agree on the dating!

    The truly bizarre conspiracy is that of the Stratfordians who insist that the Stratford man "could" have picked up his knowledge (through "reading" !), when there is not the slightest evidence he actually did so!

    Shakespeare: had been to Italy (and France and Denmark) and had personally seen the version of "Venus and Adonis" that was in Titian's studio. Shakespeare's extensive knowledge of and obvious fascination with Italy generally is reflected in many plays and both of his long poems.

    Stratford man: never traveled more than 30 miles from Stratford.

    Shakespeare: knew what it was to be one of those closest to Elizabeth to "bear the canopy" over her. He could parody Elizabeth's closest advisor, Lord Burghley, without fear as Polonius in a way that completely destroys the Stratford case. Shakespeare, whoever he was, had access to the written advice that Burghley gave to his biological son when heading off to Europe. No one else, and certainly not the commoner from Stratford had the standing to do that.

    Stratford man: not the slightest evidence he ever wrote a play in his life! Read his will! There's nothing there about any proceeds due his estate from any writing whatsoever. But we do know about his "second-best" bed!

    Ben Jonson did write the dedication to the First Folio in 1623 and clearly referenced the man from Stratford. That was the only time Jonson did so. Not on the occasion of the man's death in 1616, but instead during a political crisis years later when it was expedient for the King to publicly back the plays, and Jonson willingly obliged.

    Jonson wrote much in his illustrious career about many things and many people. But outside the one single time in the First Folio, of his supposed friend, "Shakespeare", he had nothing to say.

    Nothing.

    Everyone in the Stratford man's life was illiterate, including his father and his daughter.

    The most basic rule in writing is to write about that which you know.

    The author of the Shakespeare Canon was able to write with such authority because, very simply, he'd been there. He'd done it.

    And that man, whoever he was, sure as hell wasn't the man from Stratford.

    Jonson wrote much in his illustrious career about many things and many people. But outside the one single time in the First Folio, of his supposed friend, “Shakespeare”, he had nothing to say.

    Nothing.

    Not quite. See: http://www.bartleby.com/27/2.html

    • Replies: @Paul Jolliffe
    I should have clarified that the specific reference to the man from Stratford as Shakespeare was unique to the Folio. Jonson, as you correctly note, did write about Shakespeare elsewhere, but again, the point is to identify that Shakespeare as the man from Stratford.

    When the man from Stratford died in 1616, Jonson had nothing to say about him.

    No one did. Not one soul had anything to say in 1616 of the death of the man from Stratford.

    "Shakespeare" was widely heralded as one of the greatest of the age.

    Nobody cared about the man from Stratford. Why not? Because he wasn't "Shakespeare".

  106. @vinteuil
    Top ten Shakespeare films, in no particular order:

    1 Hamlet (dir. Branagh, 1996)

    2 Julius Caesar (dir. Mankiewicz, 1953)

    3 Macbeth (dir. Polanski, 1971)

    4 Taming of the Shrew (dir. Zeffirelli, 1967)

    5 Much Ado about Nothing (dir. Branagh, 1993)

    6 12th Night (dir. Nunn, 1996)

    7 Henry V (dir. Branagh, 1989)

    8 Richard III (dir. Olivier, 1955)

    9 Romeo & Juliet (dir. Zeffirelli, 1968)

    10 Henry V (dir. Olivier, 1944)

    Best Versions of Shakespeare I’ve encountered.

    —–

    Movies

    Olivier’s Henry V
    Welles’ Othello
    Welles’ Chimes at Midnight
    Kosintsev’s King Lear (in Russian)
    Mankiewicz’ Julius Caesar

    Kurosawa’s two Shakespeare films are good, but have none of his language! I don’t like Zeffirelli, or Polanski for Shakespeare. Olivier’s Hamlet is all over the place, from brilliant to terrible. Branagh and Nunn have done better work in their television adaptations.

    Criterion is supposed to be coming out with BluRay of Chimes at Midnight very soon.

    —–

    TV

    Nunn’s Macbeth (with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench)
    Nunn’s Merchant of Venice
    Branagh’s Twelfth Night

    Jonathan Miller’s Othello has an unbelievably good Iago in Bob Hoskins, though overall his version is only so-so. I have been meaning to see the old Age of Kings adaptations.

    —–

    Audio

    Hamlet (with John Gielgud)
    Romeo and Juliet (with Kate Beckinsale)
    The Tempest (with Ian McKellen)

    —–

    So, overall, you have decent coverage of Shakespeare’s major plays in performance.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Criterion is supposed to be coming out with BluRay of Chimes at Midnight very soon.
     
    So looking forward to that.
    , @Thursday
    Welles' Macbeth is one of the great might-of-beens of cinema. The visuals are impressive, but he catastrophically insisted on everyone using a ridiculous Scottish accent. The French can't understand what is being said, so, of course, they love it. It might work as a silent film.
    , @Thursday
    I've never come across a decent version of Anthony and Cleopatra. Supposedly the young Helen Mirren owned that role, but we have no record of that.

    I've never encountered a good version of Lear in English either.
    , @Mr. Anon
    I thought that Kenneth Brannagh's film version of Hamlet was very good. It was very cleverly edited and directed so as to aid the viewer in understanding the dialogue.

    I used to have some good audio performances by the RSC from the 60s. Sadly, they were on cassette and eventually wore out, and I haven't been able to find them on CD. One was MacBeth, with Anthony Quayle (MacBeth) and Ian Holm (Malcolm), and the other Julius Caesar with Quayle (Brutus), John Mills (Cassius), Ralph Richardson (Caesar) and Alan Bates (Marc Antony). Those were really great performances.
  107. @SFG
    You sure that last bit isn't a dirty joke? He was quite fond of them, as your English teacher probably never told you (though mine did).

    You sure that last bit isn’t a dirty joke? He was quite fond of them, as your English teacher probably never told you (though mine did).

    My English teachers loved to dilate on “country matters.”

    As for that last bit being a “dirty joke,” just about any inarticulate cry can be read in that fashion.

  108. @vinteuil
    With Dante, as with Homer & Vergil, everything depends on the translation. I tried Inferno multiple times & always gave up in annoyance after a few pages, until I discovered Robert Pinsky's 1995 version, which totally won me over. Terza rima in thoroughly idiomatic English, instead of the usual painful translationese. Give it a try.

    Yeah, Dante is not easy to translate well, particularly as his form, terza rima, is so ill suited for English. So, even the better of the translations can be a bit all over the place. Pinsky is among the best. Esolen, Binyon, Musa, and Sinclair (in prose) are also very good.

    It is too bad the late Seamus Heaney didn’t continue with his translation, giving up his version after a few Cantos. It would have been the best version in English.

    • Replies: @guest
    I've read Esolen's, and his endnotes are worth the price alone.
  109. @Thursday
    Best Versions of Shakespeare I've encountered.

    -----

    Movies

    Olivier's Henry V
    Welles' Othello
    Welles' Chimes at Midnight
    Kosintsev's King Lear (in Russian)
    Mankiewicz' Julius Caesar

    Kurosawa's two Shakespeare films are good, but have none of his language! I don't like Zeffirelli, or Polanski for Shakespeare. Olivier's Hamlet is all over the place, from brilliant to terrible. Branagh and Nunn have done better work in their television adaptations.

    Criterion is supposed to be coming out with BluRay of Chimes at Midnight very soon.

    -----

    TV

    Nunn's Macbeth (with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench)
    Nunn's Merchant of Venice
    Branagh's Twelfth Night

    Jonathan Miller's Othello has an unbelievably good Iago in Bob Hoskins, though overall his version is only so-so. I have been meaning to see the old Age of Kings adaptations.

    -----

    Audio

    Hamlet (with John Gielgud)
    Romeo and Juliet (with Kate Beckinsale)
    The Tempest (with Ian McKellen)

    -----

    So, overall, you have decent coverage of Shakespeare's major plays in performance.

    Criterion is supposed to be coming out with BluRay of Chimes at Midnight very soon.

    So looking forward to that.

  110. @Thursday
    Best Versions of Shakespeare I've encountered.

    -----

    Movies

    Olivier's Henry V
    Welles' Othello
    Welles' Chimes at Midnight
    Kosintsev's King Lear (in Russian)
    Mankiewicz' Julius Caesar

    Kurosawa's two Shakespeare films are good, but have none of his language! I don't like Zeffirelli, or Polanski for Shakespeare. Olivier's Hamlet is all over the place, from brilliant to terrible. Branagh and Nunn have done better work in their television adaptations.

    Criterion is supposed to be coming out with BluRay of Chimes at Midnight very soon.

    -----

    TV

    Nunn's Macbeth (with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench)
    Nunn's Merchant of Venice
    Branagh's Twelfth Night

    Jonathan Miller's Othello has an unbelievably good Iago in Bob Hoskins, though overall his version is only so-so. I have been meaning to see the old Age of Kings adaptations.

    -----

    Audio

    Hamlet (with John Gielgud)
    Romeo and Juliet (with Kate Beckinsale)
    The Tempest (with Ian McKellen)

    -----

    So, overall, you have decent coverage of Shakespeare's major plays in performance.

    Welles’ Macbeth is one of the great might-of-beens of cinema. The visuals are impressive, but he catastrophically insisted on everyone using a ridiculous Scottish accent. The French can’t understand what is being said, so, of course, they love it. It might work as a silent film.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Welles’ Macbeth is one of the great might-of-beens of cinema. The visuals are impressive, but he catastrophically insisted on everyone using a ridiculous Scottish accent. The French can’t understand what is being said, so, of course, they love it. It might work as a silent film.
     
    I never minded the Scots accent. Indeed, I thought that it was a nice change of pace from the standard RP drone.
    , @Mr. Anon
    "Welles’ Macbeth is one of the great might-of-beens of cinema. The visuals are impressive, but he catastrophically insisted on everyone using a ridiculous Scottish accent."

    And yet they were all made up and decked out to look like Mongols.
  111. @FirkinRidiculous
    Have a look at http://www.anonymous-shakespeare.com/cms/index.21.0.1.html

    Whenever Shakespeare appears in print, de Vere's relatives or associates are close at hand, whilst their connection to the Stratford stroller remains completely elusive.

    Have a look at http://www.anonymous-shakespeare.com/cms/index.21.0.1.html

    Whenever Shakespeare appears in print, de Vere’s relatives or associates are close at hand, whilst their connection to the Stratford stroller remains completely elusive.

    That was about as convincing as the old nonsense about Baconian ciphers.

  112. @Thursday
    Best Versions of Shakespeare I've encountered.

    -----

    Movies

    Olivier's Henry V
    Welles' Othello
    Welles' Chimes at Midnight
    Kosintsev's King Lear (in Russian)
    Mankiewicz' Julius Caesar

    Kurosawa's two Shakespeare films are good, but have none of his language! I don't like Zeffirelli, or Polanski for Shakespeare. Olivier's Hamlet is all over the place, from brilliant to terrible. Branagh and Nunn have done better work in their television adaptations.

    Criterion is supposed to be coming out with BluRay of Chimes at Midnight very soon.

    -----

    TV

    Nunn's Macbeth (with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench)
    Nunn's Merchant of Venice
    Branagh's Twelfth Night

    Jonathan Miller's Othello has an unbelievably good Iago in Bob Hoskins, though overall his version is only so-so. I have been meaning to see the old Age of Kings adaptations.

    -----

    Audio

    Hamlet (with John Gielgud)
    Romeo and Juliet (with Kate Beckinsale)
    The Tempest (with Ian McKellen)

    -----

    So, overall, you have decent coverage of Shakespeare's major plays in performance.

    I’ve never come across a decent version of Anthony and Cleopatra. Supposedly the young Helen Mirren owned that role, but we have no record of that.

    I’ve never encountered a good version of Lear in English either.

    • Replies: @SPMoore8
    The version of Lear at the end of I am the Walrus is pretty good.

    Also, keep in mind that Orson Welles was an Oxfordian.
  113. @Thursday
    Welles' Macbeth is one of the great might-of-beens of cinema. The visuals are impressive, but he catastrophically insisted on everyone using a ridiculous Scottish accent. The French can't understand what is being said, so, of course, they love it. It might work as a silent film.

    Welles’ Macbeth is one of the great might-of-beens of cinema. The visuals are impressive, but he catastrophically insisted on everyone using a ridiculous Scottish accent. The French can’t understand what is being said, so, of course, they love it. It might work as a silent film.

    I never minded the Scots accent. Indeed, I thought that it was a nice change of pace from the standard RP drone.

  114. @sabril
    I wonder what female academics discuss with each other. My sense is that they gossip a lot. Do they spend time complaining about "The Patriarchy?"

    I would hazard to guess that of all the substantive, interesting conversations which take place in the Western World, at least 95% involve at least 1 man.

    Yes, sabril, there are women of substance, at least on my planet. I don’t know if these ladies are “academics” (why academics? what script are you stuck in?) but such females are probably older than 17, and therefore would not interest you.

    It seems to me that it is common here for commenters to use the preludes: “I would guess” or “it would seem” or “my sense is” and then go on to conclude, as if empirical, whatever their pre-clusions had already decided on.
    Unless you have statistics, unless you actually record lady “academic” conversations, and analyze for style and substance, and can repeat the experiment, I find your opinion most impertinent. It may even be lacking in substance. Most of us wake up sooner or later and realize most of what we’ve been talking and thinking about most of our lives is dreck, and the little bit of exalted thought and speech was the only thing worth the trouble. That’s where poets and mystics come in.

    Back to Shakespeare. My nephew thinks deVere wrote a lot of his plays, and he’s been on the case since he was 13, almost 20 years.

    • Replies: @random observer
    I certainly know plenty of women of substance. It's just that the Bechdel tests seems nuts on a couple of levels:

    1. Men and women both tend to talk a lot about one another. While there IS an imbalance, men in film do spend a lot of time contemplating women one way or another.

    2. I'm only 45, but it my experience it is more likely that men will talk about something other than women that it is likely that [hetero] women will talk about something other than men. Not that men won't come back to women, or that women can't have long discussions of physics or Shakespeare. Only that women will come back to men before men come back to women. SO far, it looks hardwired.

    3. A fair chunk of women's' writing in print or for the screen seems to focus on the desire of women for men. It seems a major concern.

    4. Much women's writing on the concerns of women other than those related to men seems to be on subjects that are of interest to women, genuinely and properly, but of limited interest to men. If women are bringing in the major cash to cinemas, I don't know why this is not reflected in movies being greenlit. Money is money. I can only speculate either that women go to the movies less often or spend less, or that these kinds of subjects so dominate their real lives that they don't want to see movies about them all the time either.

    5. Much cinema focusing on female characters is written by gay men or crazy women. Or crazy women wishing to emulate gay men.

    The emblematic movies for number 5 would be Sex and the City. For number 4 it could be Bridget Jones. I was entertained by the first of the latter franchise, but that's about it.
  115. @Thursday
    I've never come across a decent version of Anthony and Cleopatra. Supposedly the young Helen Mirren owned that role, but we have no record of that.

    I've never encountered a good version of Lear in English either.

    The version of Lear at the end of I am the Walrus is pretty good.

    Also, keep in mind that Orson Welles was an Oxfordian.

    • Replies: @FirkinRidiculous

    Also, keep in mind that Orson Welles was an Oxfordian.
     
    Well, the evidence for that really amounts to one quote of uncertain provenance, and Welles, if he was actually interested or convinced in the matter, never bothered to make public record of his position, which luminaries like Jacobi and Jeremy Irons have done.
  116. @Thursday
    The alternative authors all rely on some bizarre conspiracy to work. Oxford and Marlowe were dead before many of the plays were put on. Ben Jonson credited Shakespeare with writing his own plays. Etc. etc. etc.

    Shakespeare came from the upper middle class, with a solid grammar school education. He could easily have gotten what knowledge he had (not always as accurate as the alternative author people say) from reading, doing business, and having dealings with the court as poet and playwright.

    They also are often unclear about what exactly the conspiracy was trying to accomplish. Sometimes they seem to think “the Stratford man” was someone that Oxford actually used as a front, but other times, absurdly, they seem to think that the name was a coincidence and no one thought the Stratford man was Shakespeare until decades afterwards – as if some nobody who happened to be named George Eliot or Mark Twain or George Orwell was mistakenly identified as an author by later generations.

    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    Who,if anyone, Stratford guy was to the real author is a distinct question from the identity of the real author. You know what's inconsistent? Assuming that the Stratford guy was a genius when genius explains what he got right, but a non-genius when lack of genius explains what he got wrong. Like when they argue that he "mistakenly" thought that Venice had streets.
  117. @syonredux

    The Bechdel Test
     
    Key point about the Bechdel Test: It was devised by Lesbians who have no interest in the things that hetero women talk about.

    For example, I know a lot of Lesbian Lit academics, and they all find Jane Austen quite boring.....

    I am also under the impression that, like so many other things in this world, this was invented as a joke and has been taken far too seriously by proponents (and opponents).

  118. Wasn’t there a character named Gaveston in one of the historical plays? The guys at court thought he had a bad influence on the king – heavily implying a disgusting love affair. So Gaveston was “arrested” and eventually killed so that the king would discharge his duties as he should.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Wasn’t there a character named Gaveston in one of the historical plays? The guys at court thought he had a bad influence on the king – heavily implying a disgusting love affair. So Gaveston was “arrested” and eventually killed so that the king would discharge his duties as he should.
     
    Gaveston was in Marlowe's Edward II.
  119. @Thursday
    Yeah, Dante is not easy to translate well, particularly as his form, terza rima, is so ill suited for English. So, even the better of the translations can be a bit all over the place. Pinsky is among the best. Esolen, Binyon, Musa, and Sinclair (in prose) are also very good.

    It is too bad the late Seamus Heaney didn't continue with his translation, giving up his version after a few Cantos. It would have been the best version in English.

    I’ve read Esolen’s, and his endnotes are worth the price alone.

  120. @reiner Tor
    A lot of non-English authors consider Shakespeare the greatest dramatist of all times and all languages, or at least one of the very greatest. For example I know for sure that that's the standard view in Hungary.

    The Romantic impetus spread all across Europe at the end of the 18th Century, and the bright young men of Europe suddenly noticed that Shakespeare had accomplished 200 years before what they wanted to do.

    So, Shakespeare has been the undisputed heavyweight champ of modern literature for about 200 to 225 years now. Before 1800 he’d been big, but the Romantics got Shakespeare in a way that the Enlightenment hadn’t really done so.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Mmm, yes and no. The big English neo-classical authors, after Milton but before the Romantics, like Dryden, Pope and Johnson, all paid inordinate attention to Shakespeare. Milton himself shows a massive Shakespearen influence. So, while Shakespeare certainly wasn't a worldwide figure before the 1800s, he has always been the most influential author in England since his death.

    Was it the Schlegel translation into German that made him a worldwide figure?
    , @syonredux
    In terms of influence on the English Romantic movement, Shakespeare's only real rival was Milton.
  121. Shakespeare? Old hat and doomed to disappear. Its not as if … **cough Game of Thrones cough** there is currently a huge demand for outrageous, bloody, non-modern, drama. Oh no.

    Rather, the future is plays on a bare stage where two fat lesbians debate bed death. Yeah, sure, that will win the hot girl theater chick contingent. Because so many awesome guys will be into that sort of thing .. Lesbian Bed Death drama.

    As long as hot women want to have sex with awesome, charismatic men and boys, well Shakespeare will be performed because it has bravura parts for bravura men and boys, from high school theater groups to professional stuff.

  122. Just read “The Royal Secret.” Sir Francis Bacon – Shakespeare, (Pallas Athene’s Speare of Knowledge.) He was forced by his Mum to keep his identity secret……don’t want to spoil anymore, but the book was interesting!

  123. Oops, forgot to add that just like Queen sang, “Fat Bottomed Girls you make the Golfing World Go Round,” well hot theater chicks are what makes the theater business go round. What, you think utter gay fabulousness is enough to make actual money?

    Little known fact: Freddie Mercury was an avid golfer. As was Shakespeare. Indeed many of his plays work as an allegory trying to play up in Scotland. McBeth for example could be seen as the tragic flaw of the yips at hole 17.

  124. @Malcolm Y
    Wasn't there a character named Gaveston in one of the historical plays? The guys at court thought he had a bad influence on the king - heavily implying a disgusting love affair. So Gaveston was "arrested" and eventually killed so that the king would discharge his duties as he should.

    Wasn’t there a character named Gaveston in one of the historical plays? The guys at court thought he had a bad influence on the king – heavily implying a disgusting love affair. So Gaveston was “arrested” and eventually killed so that the king would discharge his duties as he should.

    Gaveston was in Marlowe’s Edward II.

  125. @Steve Sailer
    The Romantic impetus spread all across Europe at the end of the 18th Century, and the bright young men of Europe suddenly noticed that Shakespeare had accomplished 200 years before what they wanted to do.

    So, Shakespeare has been the undisputed heavyweight champ of modern literature for about 200 to 225 years now. Before 1800 he'd been big, but the Romantics got Shakespeare in a way that the Enlightenment hadn't really done so.

    Mmm, yes and no. The big English neo-classical authors, after Milton but before the Romantics, like Dryden, Pope and Johnson, all paid inordinate attention to Shakespeare. Milton himself shows a massive Shakespearen influence. So, while Shakespeare certainly wasn’t a worldwide figure before the 1800s, he has always been the most influential author in England since his death.

    Was it the Schlegel translation into German that made him a worldwide figure?

  126. @Steve Sailer
    The Romantic impetus spread all across Europe at the end of the 18th Century, and the bright young men of Europe suddenly noticed that Shakespeare had accomplished 200 years before what they wanted to do.

    So, Shakespeare has been the undisputed heavyweight champ of modern literature for about 200 to 225 years now. Before 1800 he'd been big, but the Romantics got Shakespeare in a way that the Enlightenment hadn't really done so.

    In terms of influence on the English Romantic movement, Shakespeare’s only real rival was Milton.

  127. @Old Palo Altan
    On your Dante discursion:
    My great grandmother and her two daughters did not "try to spend time" in Dante's home town of Florence, but lived there for a year in 1907-08. They rented rooms in the Palazzo Canigiani, where Sir John Pope Hennessy the art historian later lived and died.
    They studied art and music and looked for husbands, but weren't really rich enough to attract the odd impoverished duke. Nor pretty enough for that matter.
    Their mother showed her limitations by ordering copies made of works of art which took her fancy rather than casting round for less-famous originals. At family gatherings we tend to stare at those which remain and shake our heads at her lack of foresight.
    But she did have a life size portrait of the daughters painted which was reproduced in Harper's Monthly Magazine. I won't name the artist, but I can say that it knocks the socks off many a work by Sargent.
    I can't pretend that this has anything to do with Shakespeare, but I can drag a playwright into it: at college in the 1870's she became best friends for life with the mother of America's greatest dramatist, but since she is mentioned in books about him, I'll let you guess who that might be.

    Eugene O’Neil ?

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
    Did you come to this conclusion because you consider O'Neil "America's greatest dramatist", or is there something about this text which made his name spring to mind?
  128. @Thursday
    The main thing that the gay/whatever studies people have picked up on in Shakespeare's plays is all the cross-dressing. In addition, in one of the plays, As You Like It, Rosalind picks the rather risque name Ganymede for her male name. I'm not sure to what purpose.

    People forget that Shakespeare was writing parts for real people. Since the women’s parts were played by boys in Shakespeare’s day, every time a female character cross-dressed it meant a boy got to actually play a boy on stage. I bet those kids loved that. There’s a lot of female-to-male crossdressing in Elizabethan and Jacobean plays, and rather than something Freudian it’s probably all about guys like William Shakespeare and John Fletcher remembering their own boyhood and doing something nice for those kids.

  129. @vinteuil
    Top ten Shakespeare films, in no particular order:

    1 Hamlet (dir. Branagh, 1996)

    2 Julius Caesar (dir. Mankiewicz, 1953)

    3 Macbeth (dir. Polanski, 1971)

    4 Taming of the Shrew (dir. Zeffirelli, 1967)

    5 Much Ado about Nothing (dir. Branagh, 1993)

    6 12th Night (dir. Nunn, 1996)

    7 Henry V (dir. Branagh, 1989)

    8 Richard III (dir. Olivier, 1955)

    9 Romeo & Juliet (dir. Zeffirelli, 1968)

    10 Henry V (dir. Olivier, 1944)

    I couldn’t stand Branagh’s bombastic “Hamlet”. The best Hamlet I’ve ever seen is a cheap, made for television production from the 1980s starring Derek Jacobi.

  130. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @SteveO

    but it was a mainstream entertainment
     
    Yes, but working in the theater, and acting in particular, was not entirely respectable. You would expect such a profession to draw a raffish element, at least some of whom would have had outlaw/rebel tendencies, and to push the boundaries of acceptable behavior. (These things are still true today, to the point that someone who leads what anywhere else would be considered an unremarkably normal life, like Tom Hanks, is held up as an icon of respectability.) You would also expect homosexuals to be drawn to such an environment because they themselves were outlaws and because they could get away with a little more than could in ordinary society.

    While I agree that the media and homosexuals themselves wildly exaggerate their presence in entertainment - and in life generally - it doesn't seem entirely illogical that there would be a disproportionate number in the theater compared to more conventional environments.

    Not to mention that only males were allowed to act in plays during the Elizabethan era, up until 1660; which means even women’s parts were played by men. On top of that, the Globe Theatre was located in the seedier part of Greater London (Southwark), an area known for its prostitution and cock fights. So at minimum, theatre was as gay then as it is now.

  131. @David
    Christopher Marlowe is supposed to have said, "all they that love not tobacco and boys are fools." Sounds kind of gay to me.

    Interesting that Shakespeare never mentions tobacco, if Marlowe really said that.

    I believe the actual Marlowe quote is: “I have come here to smoke Tobacco and fool with Boys. And I’m all out of Tobacco.”

  132. And unless I’m mistaken, it was Samuel Johnson, recently of these pages, who revived public interest in Shakespeare with what would today be a kickstarter.

    One of the subscribers, Churchill, wrote whilst waiting (1762):

    He for subscribers baits his hook,
    And takes their cash; but where’s the book?
    No matter where; wise fear, we know,
    Forbids the robbing of a foe;
    But what, to serve our private ends,
    Forbids the cheating of our friends?

    He but had three more years to wait for The Plays of William Shakespeare, in Eight Volumes, with the Corrections and Illustrations of Various Commentators; To which are added Notes by Sam. Johnson.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Pope famously did a subscription for an edition of Shakespeare too, before Johnson.
  133. @Kit
    1. The Oxfordian theory can't overcome the fact that de Vere died in 1604 and Shakespeare continued producing plays until 1611 or so. The latter plays reference events that happened after de Vere died, most notably a 1609 or 1610 shipwreck referenced in "The Tempest," produced in 1611. Also, absolutely no one questioned that William of Stratford wrote the plays until the late 19th century; the Oxfordian hypothesis wasn't mentioned until the 1920's. Sobran's opinion was based entirely on snobbery that a writer as great as Shakespeare just HAD to be a nobleman.

    2. Judging by my two teenaged sons and their friends, the Bard of Avon has nothing to fear for his place in the canon. Heck, Cracked.com often features Shakespeare references and lists. Even Dante should be happy, since lots of fantasy fans, and fans of the "Assasin's Creed" videogames read "The Inferno."

    3. The best play for girls, and by far the best comedy, is the late "Much Ado About Nothing," which was a lovely Kenneth Branagh - Emma Thompson play in 1993.

    Again, the key is not when the plays were produced on stage, but when they were written. And no one, certainly not you, can say when the plays were written. Mainstream scholars have disagreed with each other for two centuries arguing over the dating of the plays. All anyone can say for sure is that they were written during the latter part of the 16th century and the very early 17th century.

    The shipwreck description in “The Tempest” is too vague to be certain that it refers to an event after Vere was dead. The 1609/10 dating of an actual event was picked by 20th century Stratfordians in a (lame) attempt to disprove the Oxfordians. The Oxfordian case is so strong the Stratfordians had to resort to the weakest arguments, including the cliché “snobbery”.

    Whatever.

    We do agree that the author of the Canon was a genius, and high school kids do appreciate him.

    • Replies: @James Kabala
    I am not an expert here and defer to those (such as Thursday) who are, but you do realize that English theater styles evolved and changed quite a bit over the years? An analogy I once heard was that a claim that Oxford secretly wrote the late works of Shakespeare before 1604 would be similar to a claim that before his death Buddy Holly secretly wrote the songs of Jefferson Airplane or the Doors.
  134. Regarding Googelous Doodles, surely it was even contemporaneously declared that Shakespeare was the greatest of the popular, though by establishment unrecognized, Blackamoor playwrights.

  135. @James Kabala
    They also are often unclear about what exactly the conspiracy was trying to accomplish. Sometimes they seem to think "the Stratford man" was someone that Oxford actually used as a front, but other times, absurdly, they seem to think that the name was a coincidence and no one thought the Stratford man was Shakespeare until decades afterwards - as if some nobody who happened to be named George Eliot or Mark Twain or George Orwell was mistakenly identified as an author by later generations.

    Who,if anyone, Stratford guy was to the real author is a distinct question from the identity of the real author. You know what’s inconsistent? Assuming that the Stratford guy was a genius when genius explains what he got right, but a non-genius when lack of genius explains what he got wrong. Like when they argue that he “mistakenly” thought that Venice had streets.

    • Replies: @random observer
    I'm not sure there is a definition of 'genius' that requires the person so honoured get everything right, especially on matters of fact or research. Genius and diligence of research are not the same concept.

    Also, Venice has some streets. It's not all canal all the time. I don't know if that was true then- they may have filled in some canals since 1600. Certainly in the 20th and 21st century it has some streets. Or was that also your point- I may have misread.
  136. I hope the moderator catches the double post. If not, sorry.

  137. @FirkinRidiculous

    Jonson wrote much in his illustrious career about many things and many people. But outside the one single time in the First Folio, of his supposed friend, “Shakespeare”, he had nothing to say.

    Nothing.
     
    Not quite. See: http://www.bartleby.com/27/2.html

    I should have clarified that the specific reference to the man from Stratford as Shakespeare was unique to the Folio. Jonson, as you correctly note, did write about Shakespeare elsewhere, but again, the point is to identify that Shakespeare as the man from Stratford.

    When the man from Stratford died in 1616, Jonson had nothing to say about him.

    No one did. Not one soul had anything to say in 1616 of the death of the man from Stratford.

    “Shakespeare” was widely heralded as one of the greatest of the age.

    Nobody cared about the man from Stratford. Why not? Because he wasn’t “Shakespeare”.

    • Replies: @FirkinRidiculous
    But this is a point I'm not quite clear on, do you -or others (I'm not that familiar with the whole range of ideas) - think the Stratford Shakspere had any direct connection with Oxford or even possibly Johnson? In other words, was he in on the fix, so to speak?
  138. “But, my impression is that when girls get together they actually do talk about boys a lot.”

    Alison Bechdel probably doesn’t, to judge by the picture of her that you posted. Perhaps straight women (i.e. normal women) should stop taking advice from lesbians on what it is that makes women happy.

  139. @Thursday
    Welles' Macbeth is one of the great might-of-beens of cinema. The visuals are impressive, but he catastrophically insisted on everyone using a ridiculous Scottish accent. The French can't understand what is being said, so, of course, they love it. It might work as a silent film.

    “Welles’ Macbeth is one of the great might-of-beens of cinema. The visuals are impressive, but he catastrophically insisted on everyone using a ridiculous Scottish accent.”

    And yet they were all made up and decked out to look like Mongols.

  140. @Thursday
    Best Versions of Shakespeare I've encountered.

    -----

    Movies

    Olivier's Henry V
    Welles' Othello
    Welles' Chimes at Midnight
    Kosintsev's King Lear (in Russian)
    Mankiewicz' Julius Caesar

    Kurosawa's two Shakespeare films are good, but have none of his language! I don't like Zeffirelli, or Polanski for Shakespeare. Olivier's Hamlet is all over the place, from brilliant to terrible. Branagh and Nunn have done better work in their television adaptations.

    Criterion is supposed to be coming out with BluRay of Chimes at Midnight very soon.

    -----

    TV

    Nunn's Macbeth (with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench)
    Nunn's Merchant of Venice
    Branagh's Twelfth Night

    Jonathan Miller's Othello has an unbelievably good Iago in Bob Hoskins, though overall his version is only so-so. I have been meaning to see the old Age of Kings adaptations.

    -----

    Audio

    Hamlet (with John Gielgud)
    Romeo and Juliet (with Kate Beckinsale)
    The Tempest (with Ian McKellen)

    -----

    So, overall, you have decent coverage of Shakespeare's major plays in performance.

    I thought that Kenneth Brannagh’s film version of Hamlet was very good. It was very cleverly edited and directed so as to aid the viewer in understanding the dialogue.

    I used to have some good audio performances by the RSC from the 60s. Sadly, they were on cassette and eventually wore out, and I haven’t been able to find them on CD. One was MacBeth, with Anthony Quayle (MacBeth) and Ian Holm (Malcolm), and the other Julius Caesar with Quayle (Brutus), John Mills (Cassius), Ralph Richardson (Caesar) and Alan Bates (Marc Antony). Those were really great performances.

  141. @Paul Jolliffe
    I should have clarified that the specific reference to the man from Stratford as Shakespeare was unique to the Folio. Jonson, as you correctly note, did write about Shakespeare elsewhere, but again, the point is to identify that Shakespeare as the man from Stratford.

    When the man from Stratford died in 1616, Jonson had nothing to say about him.

    No one did. Not one soul had anything to say in 1616 of the death of the man from Stratford.

    "Shakespeare" was widely heralded as one of the greatest of the age.

    Nobody cared about the man from Stratford. Why not? Because he wasn't "Shakespeare".

    But this is a point I’m not quite clear on, do you -or others (I’m not that familiar with the whole range of ideas) – think the Stratford Shakspere had any direct connection with Oxford or even possibly Johnson? In other words, was he in on the fix, so to speak?

    • Replies: @Paul Jolliffe
    I don't know. It seems plausible that the Stratford man must have been approached at some point and paid to say nothing to disprove the later confusion that he was "Shakespeare". But how and when he came into the picture is unknown to me. The Shakespeare Oxford Society newsletter has hundreds of articles from the last 15 years or so exploring precisely these sorts of questions.

    Now you're going to make me go read some more of them . . .
  142. @SPMoore8
    The version of Lear at the end of I am the Walrus is pretty good.

    Also, keep in mind that Orson Welles was an Oxfordian.

    Also, keep in mind that Orson Welles was an Oxfordian.

    Well, the evidence for that really amounts to one quote of uncertain provenance, and Welles, if he was actually interested or convinced in the matter, never bothered to make public record of his position, which luminaries like Jacobi and Jeremy Irons have done.

    • Replies: @SPMoore8
    The evidence that Orson Welles made the well-known statement about Oxford goes back to a series of quotes in a book published in 1954. Welles neither refuted the statement attributed to him (nor any of the other statements attributed to him) in the remaining 31 years of his life. Nor did he ever contradict the statement offered there. I don't know what the problem is. I think the website maintaining that argument is by a big fan of Welles who would prefer not to think that his hero believed such a thing.

    I made the point because the person who is being extremely anti-Oxford in this thread is also a big fan of Welles. It's a point worth keeping in mind. No one disputes the excellence of Shakespeareans like Derek Jacobi or Mark Rylance, but they don't believe Shakespeare wrote the plays, either. It's something to think about the next time people start attacking skeptics.
  143. @Hail
    What is the motive for a centuries-long conspiracy to promote the possibly-literate Stratford man?

    (Incidentally, I agree that the evidence is most strongly on the strong of the Oxford-as-author theory.)

    What is the motive for a centuries-long conspiracy to promote the possibly-literate Stratford man?

    The original motive wasn’t a jolly jape to promote the Stratford stroller, but a careful plan to protect the identity of de Vere, and that died with the original conspirators. The rest is historical inertia.

  144. @AKAHorace
    Eugene O'Neil ?

    Did you come to this conclusion because you consider O’Neil “America’s greatest dramatist”, or is there something about this text which made his name spring to mind?

  145. @Paul Jolliffe
    Again, the key is not when the plays were produced on stage, but when they were written. And no one, certainly not you, can say when the plays were written. Mainstream scholars have disagreed with each other for two centuries arguing over the dating of the plays. All anyone can say for sure is that they were written during the latter part of the 16th century and the very early 17th century.

    The shipwreck description in "The Tempest" is too vague to be certain that it refers to an event after Vere was dead. The 1609/10 dating of an actual event was picked by 20th century Stratfordians in a (lame) attempt to disprove the Oxfordians. The Oxfordian case is so strong the Stratfordians had to resort to the weakest arguments, including the cliché "snobbery".

    Whatever.

    We do agree that the author of the Canon was a genius, and high school kids do appreciate him.

    I am not an expert here and defer to those (such as Thursday) who are, but you do realize that English theater styles evolved and changed quite a bit over the years? An analogy I once heard was that a claim that Oxford secretly wrote the late works of Shakespeare before 1604 would be similar to a claim that before his death Buddy Holly secretly wrote the songs of Jefferson Airplane or the Doors.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Yup. You have to imagine Oxford or Marlowe or whoever writing all the later plays, which were then saved up and doled out for performance over the next 10 years after his death under someone else's name. That in itself is absurd enough.
  146. @HEL
    Ah Steve, how can you discuss Shakespeare w/o mentioning the great controversy and hidden truth: that the plays attributed to the barely-literate Stratfordian actor were no doubt actually written by the Loch Ness monster! Tell me, how could Shakespeare have displayed such familiarity with the murky depths of Loch Ness if he did not dwell within them!? Tragically, Nessie was killed when WTC 7 was remotely detonated, and thus the world will likely never known the truth of this great deception . . .

    Gee. Lame, sarcastic humor from a Starfordian? Now I’ve seen everything.

  147. But, my impression is that when girls get together they actually do talk about boys a lot

    In my eaves dropping experience they talk almost exclusively about the various kinds of human relationships, family, husbands, friends etc

    which (imo) probably means that is necessary for society to function.

  148. @Pericles
    And unless I'm mistaken, it was Samuel Johnson, recently of these pages, who revived public interest in Shakespeare with what would today be a kickstarter.

    One of the subscribers, Churchill, wrote whilst waiting (1762):


    He for subscribers baits his hook,
    And takes their cash; but where's the book?
    No matter where; wise fear, we know,
    Forbids the robbing of a foe;
    But what, to serve our private ends,
    Forbids the cheating of our friends?

     

    He but had three more years to wait for The Plays of William Shakespeare, in Eight Volumes, with the Corrections and Illustrations of Various Commentators; To which are added Notes by Sam. Johnson.

    Pope famously did a subscription for an edition of Shakespeare too, before Johnson.

  149. @James Kabala
    I am not an expert here and defer to those (such as Thursday) who are, but you do realize that English theater styles evolved and changed quite a bit over the years? An analogy I once heard was that a claim that Oxford secretly wrote the late works of Shakespeare before 1604 would be similar to a claim that before his death Buddy Holly secretly wrote the songs of Jefferson Airplane or the Doors.

    Yup. You have to imagine Oxford or Marlowe or whoever writing all the later plays, which were then saved up and doled out for performance over the next 10 years after his death under someone else’s name. That in itself is absurd enough.

    • Replies: @James Kabala
    In fairness to the Marlovians, they think that their hero was still alive and incognito, and they can produce semi-plausible arguments as to why. I think all Oxfordians admit that their hero died in 1604.
    , @Steve Sailer
    I don't get what problems the anti-Shakespeare theories are supposed to solve.

    The basic problem of Shakespeare's plausibility is: could one guy have written all this great stuff in such a short number of years?

    The most obvious suggestion would be that maybe Shakespeare had a writing partner who chose to remain silent. After all, lots of movies and plays have been written over the years by two person partnerships. For example, if you want to know how the Coen Brothers have gotten so much good work done over the years, you start with there being two of them.

    Similarly, during Shakespeare's time, Beaumont and Fletcher were a prominent team, and Shakespeare himself collaborated with Fletcher late in Shakespeare's career.

    So, maybe Shakespeare had a partner who shared fairly equally in the writing, but who chose to remain obscure. This isn't a wholly crazy idea: anonymity and pseudonyms were pretty common into the 19th Century. The idea that Shakespeare might have been the public face of a 2 man team, one of whom chose to remain occluded isn't prima facie absurd.

    One problem with this theory is that textual analysis doesn't see two authors in Shakespeare's best plays, but does see them in his work with Fletcher.

    But the bigger problem is that basically, nobody believes it. All the anti-Shakespeare theorists want to believe that Shakespeare wasn't the cowriter, that he wasn't the writer at all, and that all the plays were written by one guy (which one is still up for dispute).

    But deleting Shakespeare and inserting somebody else doesn't get us anywhere toward answering the big question: how did one guy write all that good stuff?
  150. @Thursday
    Yup. You have to imagine Oxford or Marlowe or whoever writing all the later plays, which were then saved up and doled out for performance over the next 10 years after his death under someone else's name. That in itself is absurd enough.

    In fairness to the Marlovians, they think that their hero was still alive and incognito, and they can produce semi-plausible arguments as to why. I think all Oxfordians admit that their hero died in 1604.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Marlowe was apparently into a lot of cloak and dagger stuff. But it's still a really big stretch to say he faked his death and was using Shakespeare as a front.
  151. @FirkinRidiculous

    Also, keep in mind that Orson Welles was an Oxfordian.
     
    Well, the evidence for that really amounts to one quote of uncertain provenance, and Welles, if he was actually interested or convinced in the matter, never bothered to make public record of his position, which luminaries like Jacobi and Jeremy Irons have done.

    The evidence that Orson Welles made the well-known statement about Oxford goes back to a series of quotes in a book published in 1954. Welles neither refuted the statement attributed to him (nor any of the other statements attributed to him) in the remaining 31 years of his life. Nor did he ever contradict the statement offered there. I don’t know what the problem is. I think the website maintaining that argument is by a big fan of Welles who would prefer not to think that his hero believed such a thing.

    I made the point because the person who is being extremely anti-Oxford in this thread is also a big fan of Welles. It’s a point worth keeping in mind. No one disputes the excellence of Shakespeareans like Derek Jacobi or Mark Rylance, but they don’t believe Shakespeare wrote the plays, either. It’s something to think about the next time people start attacking skeptics.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Welles changed his mind on the authorship question.

    There have actually been lots of distinguished authorship doubters, like, for example, Walt Whitman. But the idea that Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare is still daft.
    , @FirkinRidiculous

    The evidence that Orson Welles made the well-known statement about Oxford goes back to a series of quotes in a book published in 1954. Welles neither refuted the statement attributed to him (nor any of the other statements attributed to him) in the remaining 31 years of his life
     
    You assume that Welles had read the book (it was a book of celebrity tittle-tattle) or there was a controversy which might have drawn his attention to it. But even if that was the case, you build too much on too little. I would argue that those 31 years of silence on the matter actually show that Welles wasn't a committed Oxfordian or that he attached little importance to the matter.

    This article makes a plausible case that if Welles believed in the Oxford case in 1954, it was likely based on Ogburn's book of 1952, but that he went cool on the idea, whether through further reflection or simple indifference: http://shakespearebyanothername.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/welles-enigma-welles-oxfordian.html
  152. @SPMoore8
    The evidence that Orson Welles made the well-known statement about Oxford goes back to a series of quotes in a book published in 1954. Welles neither refuted the statement attributed to him (nor any of the other statements attributed to him) in the remaining 31 years of his life. Nor did he ever contradict the statement offered there. I don't know what the problem is. I think the website maintaining that argument is by a big fan of Welles who would prefer not to think that his hero believed such a thing.

    I made the point because the person who is being extremely anti-Oxford in this thread is also a big fan of Welles. It's a point worth keeping in mind. No one disputes the excellence of Shakespeareans like Derek Jacobi or Mark Rylance, but they don't believe Shakespeare wrote the plays, either. It's something to think about the next time people start attacking skeptics.

    Welles changed his mind on the authorship question.

    There have actually been lots of distinguished authorship doubters, like, for example, Walt Whitman. But the idea that Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare is still daft.

    • Replies: @SPMoore8
    Where did Orson Welles change his mind?

    So The Man Who Was Thursday wants to call distinguished Shakespeareans daft. That's not very persuasive.
  153. @James Kabala
    In fairness to the Marlovians, they think that their hero was still alive and incognito, and they can produce semi-plausible arguments as to why. I think all Oxfordians admit that their hero died in 1604.

    Marlowe was apparently into a lot of cloak and dagger stuff. But it’s still a really big stretch to say he faked his death and was using Shakespeare as a front.

    • Replies: @James Kabala
    Oh, I didn't say that it was believable, just that in an odd way it shows more acknowledgement of the evidence than the Oxfordian theory does.
  154. @Thursday
    Welles changed his mind on the authorship question.

    There have actually been lots of distinguished authorship doubters, like, for example, Walt Whitman. But the idea that Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare is still daft.

    Where did Orson Welles change his mind?

    So The Man Who Was Thursday wants to call distinguished Shakespeareans daft. That’s not very persuasive.

    • Replies: @Richard
    Jacobi, Rylance (and Welles) are distinguished Shakespearean actors. They don't know beans about history or how to evaluate historical evidence. Making an appeal to authority to them, of all people, is like citing Leonardo DiCaprio on 19th century fur trappers.
  155. @Thursday
    Yup. You have to imagine Oxford or Marlowe or whoever writing all the later plays, which were then saved up and doled out for performance over the next 10 years after his death under someone else's name. That in itself is absurd enough.

    I don’t get what problems the anti-Shakespeare theories are supposed to solve.

    The basic problem of Shakespeare’s plausibility is: could one guy have written all this great stuff in such a short number of years?

    The most obvious suggestion would be that maybe Shakespeare had a writing partner who chose to remain silent. After all, lots of movies and plays have been written over the years by two person partnerships. For example, if you want to know how the Coen Brothers have gotten so much good work done over the years, you start with there being two of them.

    Similarly, during Shakespeare’s time, Beaumont and Fletcher were a prominent team, and Shakespeare himself collaborated with Fletcher late in Shakespeare’s career.

    So, maybe Shakespeare had a partner who shared fairly equally in the writing, but who chose to remain obscure. This isn’t a wholly crazy idea: anonymity and pseudonyms were pretty common into the 19th Century. The idea that Shakespeare might have been the public face of a 2 man team, one of whom chose to remain occluded isn’t prima facie absurd.

    One problem with this theory is that textual analysis doesn’t see two authors in Shakespeare’s best plays, but does see them in his work with Fletcher.

    But the bigger problem is that basically, nobody believes it. All the anti-Shakespeare theorists want to believe that Shakespeare wasn’t the cowriter, that he wasn’t the writer at all, and that all the plays were written by one guy (which one is still up for dispute).

    But deleting Shakespeare and inserting somebody else doesn’t get us anywhere toward answering the big question: how did one guy write all that good stuff?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Think about the Coens' Hollywood movie "Barton Fink." John Mahoney plays a screenwriter modeled upon William Faulkner, who is a font of gentlemanly advice for Barton during the 2 hours per day that he's not roaring drunk, the rest of the time his secretary/mistress, played by Judy Davis, tries to keep him from injuring himself. As Barton and her become more friendly, Barton learns that she has progressed over the years from typing to proofreading to editing to collaborating upon the great writer's manuscripts, and in fact she wrote every word of his last two novels.

    In real life, Gladys Hill was writer-director John Huston's secretary. Her duties expanded to the point where he ultimately gave her several co-writer credits. They shared in the Oscar nomination for adapting The Man Who Would Be King.

    How many more examples are there like this? It's hard to say.

    Anyway, if you wanted to tell me that Shakespeare had a writing partner who was either too high in rank to put his name on the plays or too humble in rank to demand credit, neither hypothesis is immediately ridiculous. It's a little bit like saying that all those catchy Beatles songs couldn't have been written just by one guy: yeah, they were written by two guys, with a few excellent ones written by a third guy, and maybe a fourth guy, and their producer George Martin wasn't exactly tone deaf either. But if you say that the Beatles didn't write any of their songs, they were all written by Phil Spector, I don't feel like we're making much progress.

    , @I, Libertine
    Isn't getting to the truth enough of a problem?

    If Stratford Guy's contribution to the partnership was non-literary, your textual problem disappears. If you really need there to be a partnership.
    , @Thursday
    One thing is that Shakespeare didn't bother inventing many of his own plots.

    A second thing is that not all the plays are on the super high "Shakespeare" level.

    When you average it out, it only works out to one really good play a year over several years.

    I'm not sure that as a total volume Shakespeare's best verse is any more than long poems like The Iliad, The Canterbury Tales, or Paradise Lost.

    -----

    There is some evidence that Middleton was involved in Macbeth. That's the only really great play of Shakespeare's with some evidence of collaboration, though Middleton was also involved in Timon of Athens. Pericles is a collaboration. There is some late stuff with Fletcher. The early Henry VI plays may have other hands.

    Bit that's just the actual writing. Shakespeare could have had people helping with plots and editing and such.
    , @Thursday
    I don’t get what problems the anti-Shakespeare theories are supposed to solve.

    The main issue seems to be that people can't believe a commoner wrote the plays. This comes in snobbish and democratic forms. The snobs want Shakespeare to be a nobleman because they don't want to believe a mere commoner could have been so great. Others (like Walt Whitman) don't like the conservative politics in the plays, and can't believe a commoner would have gone along that sort of thing.

    Another issue is the lack of easily identifiable autobiographical material. This tends to drive people nuts. Their curious about the person behind the work. But Shakespeare doesn't provide much to go on here.

    But these are all problems in various readers, not problems inherent in the work itself.
    , @Thursday
    As far as the large number of things Shakespeare wrote, you also have to make allowances for him being a freaking genius! Nobody doubts that Mozart wrote that huge bulk of music, even though he was only 35 when he died.
    , @guest
    The answer to your question came our be as easy as, "He was a genius."

    One problem anti-Shakespeareans, or some of them, are supposed to solve is how someone of Shakespeare's station could write what he did. They want him to be versed in the classics, familiar with courtly life, well-traveled, conversant in various disciplines like law and medicine and astronomy, and so on.
  156. @SPMoore8
    Where did Orson Welles change his mind?

    So The Man Who Was Thursday wants to call distinguished Shakespeareans daft. That's not very persuasive.

    Jacobi, Rylance (and Welles) are distinguished Shakespearean actors. They don’t know beans about history or how to evaluate historical evidence. Making an appeal to authority to them, of all people, is like citing Leonardo DiCaprio on 19th century fur trappers.

    • Replies: @SPMoore8
    I'm sorry, I did not claim "authority" for Jacobi, Rylance, or Welles. I simply pointed out that three distinguished Shakespeareans, who are appreciated by, among others, Chesterton's titular hero, doubt that Shakespeare wrote the plays. Since it is assumed that these three actors are intimately familiar with the plays, it seems to me that their opinions are entitled to some respect. Or not.
  157. @Steve Sailer
    I don't get what problems the anti-Shakespeare theories are supposed to solve.

    The basic problem of Shakespeare's plausibility is: could one guy have written all this great stuff in such a short number of years?

    The most obvious suggestion would be that maybe Shakespeare had a writing partner who chose to remain silent. After all, lots of movies and plays have been written over the years by two person partnerships. For example, if you want to know how the Coen Brothers have gotten so much good work done over the years, you start with there being two of them.

    Similarly, during Shakespeare's time, Beaumont and Fletcher were a prominent team, and Shakespeare himself collaborated with Fletcher late in Shakespeare's career.

    So, maybe Shakespeare had a partner who shared fairly equally in the writing, but who chose to remain obscure. This isn't a wholly crazy idea: anonymity and pseudonyms were pretty common into the 19th Century. The idea that Shakespeare might have been the public face of a 2 man team, one of whom chose to remain occluded isn't prima facie absurd.

    One problem with this theory is that textual analysis doesn't see two authors in Shakespeare's best plays, but does see them in his work with Fletcher.

    But the bigger problem is that basically, nobody believes it. All the anti-Shakespeare theorists want to believe that Shakespeare wasn't the cowriter, that he wasn't the writer at all, and that all the plays were written by one guy (which one is still up for dispute).

    But deleting Shakespeare and inserting somebody else doesn't get us anywhere toward answering the big question: how did one guy write all that good stuff?

    Think about the Coens’ Hollywood movie “Barton Fink.” John Mahoney plays a screenwriter modeled upon William Faulkner, who is a font of gentlemanly advice for Barton during the 2 hours per day that he’s not roaring drunk, the rest of the time his secretary/mistress, played by Judy Davis, tries to keep him from injuring himself. As Barton and her become more friendly, Barton learns that she has progressed over the years from typing to proofreading to editing to collaborating upon the great writer’s manuscripts, and in fact she wrote every word of his last two novels.

    In real life, Gladys Hill was writer-director John Huston’s secretary. Her duties expanded to the point where he ultimately gave her several co-writer credits. They shared in the Oscar nomination for adapting The Man Who Would Be King.

    How many more examples are there like this? It’s hard to say.

    Anyway, if you wanted to tell me that Shakespeare had a writing partner who was either too high in rank to put his name on the plays or too humble in rank to demand credit, neither hypothesis is immediately ridiculous. It’s a little bit like saying that all those catchy Beatles songs couldn’t have been written just by one guy: yeah, they were written by two guys, with a few excellent ones written by a third guy, and maybe a fourth guy, and their producer George Martin wasn’t exactly tone deaf either. But if you say that the Beatles didn’t write any of their songs, they were all written by Phil Spector, I don’t feel like we’re making much progress.

    • Agree: SPMoore8
    • Replies: @Nick

    As Barton and her become more friendly,
     
    Say it ain't so, Joe.
  158. @Richard
    Jacobi, Rylance (and Welles) are distinguished Shakespearean actors. They don't know beans about history or how to evaluate historical evidence. Making an appeal to authority to them, of all people, is like citing Leonardo DiCaprio on 19th century fur trappers.

    I’m sorry, I did not claim “authority” for Jacobi, Rylance, or Welles. I simply pointed out that three distinguished Shakespeareans, who are appreciated by, among others, Chesterton’s titular hero, doubt that Shakespeare wrote the plays. Since it is assumed that these three actors are intimately familiar with the plays, it seems to me that their opinions are entitled to some respect. Or not.

  159. @Steve Sailer
    I don't get what problems the anti-Shakespeare theories are supposed to solve.

    The basic problem of Shakespeare's plausibility is: could one guy have written all this great stuff in such a short number of years?

    The most obvious suggestion would be that maybe Shakespeare had a writing partner who chose to remain silent. After all, lots of movies and plays have been written over the years by two person partnerships. For example, if you want to know how the Coen Brothers have gotten so much good work done over the years, you start with there being two of them.

    Similarly, during Shakespeare's time, Beaumont and Fletcher were a prominent team, and Shakespeare himself collaborated with Fletcher late in Shakespeare's career.

    So, maybe Shakespeare had a partner who shared fairly equally in the writing, but who chose to remain obscure. This isn't a wholly crazy idea: anonymity and pseudonyms were pretty common into the 19th Century. The idea that Shakespeare might have been the public face of a 2 man team, one of whom chose to remain occluded isn't prima facie absurd.

    One problem with this theory is that textual analysis doesn't see two authors in Shakespeare's best plays, but does see them in his work with Fletcher.

    But the bigger problem is that basically, nobody believes it. All the anti-Shakespeare theorists want to believe that Shakespeare wasn't the cowriter, that he wasn't the writer at all, and that all the plays were written by one guy (which one is still up for dispute).

    But deleting Shakespeare and inserting somebody else doesn't get us anywhere toward answering the big question: how did one guy write all that good stuff?

    Isn’t getting to the truth enough of a problem?

    If Stratford Guy’s contribution to the partnership was non-literary, your textual problem disappears. If you really need there to be a partnership.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    But not having a literary partnership means we don't have any progress toward answering the question of how all that literary work got done.
  160. @I, Libertine
    Isn't getting to the truth enough of a problem?

    If Stratford Guy's contribution to the partnership was non-literary, your textual problem disappears. If you really need there to be a partnership.

    But not having a literary partnership means we don’t have any progress toward answering the question of how all that literary work got done.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Positing a collaboration between Oxford and Shakespeare specifically though just compounds the problem, as now you have to get all that writing in before Oxford dies, making the timeline even more compressed.
    , @Paul Jolliffe
    But since the dating of the writing of the plays is so problematic for everyone (the Stratfordians do not agree on the dating or even the particular order), why do you assume the timeline must be compressed if Oxford had a major hand in it? It would seem that if Oxford was the principal/sole author then he had more time to produce the Canon. The conventional timeline from the early 1590's to 1612 or so assumes a superhuman pace.
    That is the unreasonable position.

    A more reasonable position is that the author produced the Canon over roughly four decades, not two. But for mainstream academics, that will not do.

    Steve, no one identified the man from Stratford as the author of the Canon while that man was alive.

    The example of William Camden is telling: Camden was a historian and friend to poets and literary types - he knew Philip Sidney, Michael Drayton and may have been Ben Jonson's teacher. Camden knew John and William Shakespeare in Stratford - he approved John Shakespeare's application to have his coat of arms joined with his wife's family, the Ardens in 1599. Yet three years later, Camden was accused of improperly granting coats of arms to 23 men, one of whom was John Shakespeare. Camden apparently acquitted himself of this charge, but this case left zero doubt that he knew John and William Shakespeare in Stratford.

    Camden praised poets as "God's own creatures." Camden knew and wrote about poets. He dabbled in poetry himself. He wrote about all the literary people he knew in both his diary and his books.

    Of William Shakespeare, of Stratford, a man he knew and had had repeated dealings with, Camden had nothing to say.

    Nothing.

    In that Camden was not unique.

    No one ever said anything about Stratford man's (assumed) writing ability at all while he was alive.

    Why not?

    Because he never wrote anything worth praising, if anything at all!
  161. @FirkinRidiculous
    But this is a point I'm not quite clear on, do you -or others (I'm not that familiar with the whole range of ideas) - think the Stratford Shakspere had any direct connection with Oxford or even possibly Johnson? In other words, was he in on the fix, so to speak?

    I don’t know. It seems plausible that the Stratford man must have been approached at some point and paid to say nothing to disprove the later confusion that he was “Shakespeare”. But how and when he came into the picture is unknown to me. The Shakespeare Oxford Society newsletter has hundreds of articles from the last 15 years or so exploring precisely these sorts of questions.

    Now you’re going to make me go read some more of them . . .

  162. @Steve Sailer
    I don't get what problems the anti-Shakespeare theories are supposed to solve.

    The basic problem of Shakespeare's plausibility is: could one guy have written all this great stuff in such a short number of years?

    The most obvious suggestion would be that maybe Shakespeare had a writing partner who chose to remain silent. After all, lots of movies and plays have been written over the years by two person partnerships. For example, if you want to know how the Coen Brothers have gotten so much good work done over the years, you start with there being two of them.

    Similarly, during Shakespeare's time, Beaumont and Fletcher were a prominent team, and Shakespeare himself collaborated with Fletcher late in Shakespeare's career.

    So, maybe Shakespeare had a partner who shared fairly equally in the writing, but who chose to remain obscure. This isn't a wholly crazy idea: anonymity and pseudonyms were pretty common into the 19th Century. The idea that Shakespeare might have been the public face of a 2 man team, one of whom chose to remain occluded isn't prima facie absurd.

    One problem with this theory is that textual analysis doesn't see two authors in Shakespeare's best plays, but does see them in his work with Fletcher.

    But the bigger problem is that basically, nobody believes it. All the anti-Shakespeare theorists want to believe that Shakespeare wasn't the cowriter, that he wasn't the writer at all, and that all the plays were written by one guy (which one is still up for dispute).

    But deleting Shakespeare and inserting somebody else doesn't get us anywhere toward answering the big question: how did one guy write all that good stuff?

    One thing is that Shakespeare didn’t bother inventing many of his own plots.

    A second thing is that not all the plays are on the super high “Shakespeare” level.

    When you average it out, it only works out to one really good play a year over several years.

    I’m not sure that as a total volume Shakespeare’s best verse is any more than long poems like The Iliad, The Canterbury Tales, or Paradise Lost.

    —–

    There is some evidence that Middleton was involved in Macbeth. That’s the only really great play of Shakespeare’s with some evidence of collaboration, though Middleton was also involved in Timon of Athens. Pericles is a collaboration. There is some late stuff with Fletcher. The early Henry VI plays may have other hands.

    Bit that’s just the actual writing. Shakespeare could have had people helping with plots and editing and such.

    • Replies: @guest
    "Shakespeare didn't bother inventing many of his own plots"

    This is a pet peeve of mine. What Shakespeare took were outlines of plots. As anyone who's ever tried to tell a story more complex than an anecdote ought to notice, plot is damnably intricate and entangling. You have to keep track of cause and effect and not contradict yourself. No outside source could tell Bill what line to give to what character in scene X that will be meaningful in scene Y, so that the meaning of the forged letter will be revealed to character A, who must be in this room passing to that room when character B is on his way to tell D something about C, but B is interrupted by A because if the letter, so that eventually C will be able to kill D, who wasn't warned by B.
  163. @Steve Sailer
    But not having a literary partnership means we don't have any progress toward answering the question of how all that literary work got done.

    Positing a collaboration between Oxford and Shakespeare specifically though just compounds the problem, as now you have to get all that writing in before Oxford dies, making the timeline even more compressed.

  164. @Steve Sailer
    I don't get what problems the anti-Shakespeare theories are supposed to solve.

    The basic problem of Shakespeare's plausibility is: could one guy have written all this great stuff in such a short number of years?

    The most obvious suggestion would be that maybe Shakespeare had a writing partner who chose to remain silent. After all, lots of movies and plays have been written over the years by two person partnerships. For example, if you want to know how the Coen Brothers have gotten so much good work done over the years, you start with there being two of them.

    Similarly, during Shakespeare's time, Beaumont and Fletcher were a prominent team, and Shakespeare himself collaborated with Fletcher late in Shakespeare's career.

    So, maybe Shakespeare had a partner who shared fairly equally in the writing, but who chose to remain obscure. This isn't a wholly crazy idea: anonymity and pseudonyms were pretty common into the 19th Century. The idea that Shakespeare might have been the public face of a 2 man team, one of whom chose to remain occluded isn't prima facie absurd.

    One problem with this theory is that textual analysis doesn't see two authors in Shakespeare's best plays, but does see them in his work with Fletcher.

    But the bigger problem is that basically, nobody believes it. All the anti-Shakespeare theorists want to believe that Shakespeare wasn't the cowriter, that he wasn't the writer at all, and that all the plays were written by one guy (which one is still up for dispute).

    But deleting Shakespeare and inserting somebody else doesn't get us anywhere toward answering the big question: how did one guy write all that good stuff?

    I don’t get what problems the anti-Shakespeare theories are supposed to solve.

    The main issue seems to be that people can’t believe a commoner wrote the plays. This comes in snobbish and democratic forms. The snobs want Shakespeare to be a nobleman because they don’t want to believe a mere commoner could have been so great. Others (like Walt Whitman) don’t like the conservative politics in the plays, and can’t believe a commoner would have gone along that sort of thing.

    Another issue is the lack of easily identifiable autobiographical material. This tends to drive people nuts. Their curious about the person behind the work. But Shakespeare doesn’t provide much to go on here.

    But these are all problems in various readers, not problems inherent in the work itself.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    The main issue seems to be that people can’t believe a commoner wrote the plays
     
    A "commoner" with a classical education, albeit an abbreviated one.

    Actually, every proposed alternate author was also a commoner, except Elizabeth I. And maybe even her-- Elizabeth II was born a commoner. It's a big tent.
    , @random observer
    Myopic on Whitman's part, as a 19th century American. In most times and places, the country gentry and the provincial bourgeoisie are the most reliable conservative elements, at least until they have no option but to abandon that position.

    And can Shakespeare really be considered conservative? Acceptance of hereditary monarchy was pretty normative. And on religion, everybody couldn't be Marlowe.
  165. @Steve Sailer
    I don't get what problems the anti-Shakespeare theories are supposed to solve.

    The basic problem of Shakespeare's plausibility is: could one guy have written all this great stuff in such a short number of years?

    The most obvious suggestion would be that maybe Shakespeare had a writing partner who chose to remain silent. After all, lots of movies and plays have been written over the years by two person partnerships. For example, if you want to know how the Coen Brothers have gotten so much good work done over the years, you start with there being two of them.

    Similarly, during Shakespeare's time, Beaumont and Fletcher were a prominent team, and Shakespeare himself collaborated with Fletcher late in Shakespeare's career.

    So, maybe Shakespeare had a partner who shared fairly equally in the writing, but who chose to remain obscure. This isn't a wholly crazy idea: anonymity and pseudonyms were pretty common into the 19th Century. The idea that Shakespeare might have been the public face of a 2 man team, one of whom chose to remain occluded isn't prima facie absurd.

    One problem with this theory is that textual analysis doesn't see two authors in Shakespeare's best plays, but does see them in his work with Fletcher.

    But the bigger problem is that basically, nobody believes it. All the anti-Shakespeare theorists want to believe that Shakespeare wasn't the cowriter, that he wasn't the writer at all, and that all the plays were written by one guy (which one is still up for dispute).

    But deleting Shakespeare and inserting somebody else doesn't get us anywhere toward answering the big question: how did one guy write all that good stuff?

    As far as the large number of things Shakespeare wrote, you also have to make allowances for him being a freaking genius! Nobody doubts that Mozart wrote that huge bulk of music, even though he was only 35 when he died.

    • Replies: @guest
    Franz Schubert only made it to 31, and along with the rest of his prodigious, high quality output, he wrote over 600 songs.
  166. @Thursday
    I don’t get what problems the anti-Shakespeare theories are supposed to solve.

    The main issue seems to be that people can't believe a commoner wrote the plays. This comes in snobbish and democratic forms. The snobs want Shakespeare to be a nobleman because they don't want to believe a mere commoner could have been so great. Others (like Walt Whitman) don't like the conservative politics in the plays, and can't believe a commoner would have gone along that sort of thing.

    Another issue is the lack of easily identifiable autobiographical material. This tends to drive people nuts. Their curious about the person behind the work. But Shakespeare doesn't provide much to go on here.

    But these are all problems in various readers, not problems inherent in the work itself.

    The main issue seems to be that people can’t believe a commoner wrote the plays

    A “commoner” with a classical education, albeit an abbreviated one.

    Actually, every proposed alternate author was also a commoner, except Elizabeth I. And maybe even her– Elizabeth II was born a commoner. It’s a big tent.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    I'll give you Marlowe, but Lord Bacon and the Earl of Oxford were noblemen.
    , @random observer
    You have to use 'commoner' with care about England, even in recent times.

    If you didn't yourself possess a title [or were an elder son and heir and used only a courtesy title from your father] you were eligible to sit in the House of Commons and vote for its members [since 1999 the hereditary peers no longer in the House of Lords also enjoy these rights], but nobody quite thinks of them or the sometimes untitled second or third sons or the daughters of the royal family or the high aristocracy as 'commoners' in any kind of social or bloodline sense.

    So while England didn't have caste nobility like the continent [all offspring inherit title or at least inherit equally the tax and other status privileges, more or less forever], it did have a sense of who had better blood than others.

    The then Lady Diana Spencer was often mentioned in the press as a 'commoner' since she was not royal and was not herself a titled peer [there were some such women], she was the daughter of an earl [the 'Lady' indicating her derivative status as her father's daughter].

    The future Queen Mother was also described as a commoner, which she was in the sense that the royals had long married other royals in the German fashion, and she was not, but she WAS also the daughter of an earl, from a very old aristocratic family.

    Queen Elizabeth I was never a commoner in the social sense either. She was legally a royal bastard, a status more or less understood to be fairly grand at the time, for most of her pre-crowning life, and at other times an acknowledged princess either singly or alongside sister Mary, depending on her father's exact marital situation at any given point. Nobody at the time would have thought her a commoner, except in the aforementioned constitutional sense.

    A country squire or a rural bourgeois probably wouldn't have thanked anyone who called him a commoner, but both and especially the latter could hardly have argued otherwise.
  167. @Reg Cæsar

    The main issue seems to be that people can’t believe a commoner wrote the plays
     
    A "commoner" with a classical education, albeit an abbreviated one.

    Actually, every proposed alternate author was also a commoner, except Elizabeth I. And maybe even her-- Elizabeth II was born a commoner. It's a big tent.

    I’ll give you Marlowe, but Lord Bacon and the Earl of Oxford were noblemen.

  168. Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet was fantastic. It’s without any doubt the best ‘Shakespeare movie’ ever made.

  169. @SPMoore8
    The evidence that Orson Welles made the well-known statement about Oxford goes back to a series of quotes in a book published in 1954. Welles neither refuted the statement attributed to him (nor any of the other statements attributed to him) in the remaining 31 years of his life. Nor did he ever contradict the statement offered there. I don't know what the problem is. I think the website maintaining that argument is by a big fan of Welles who would prefer not to think that his hero believed such a thing.

    I made the point because the person who is being extremely anti-Oxford in this thread is also a big fan of Welles. It's a point worth keeping in mind. No one disputes the excellence of Shakespeareans like Derek Jacobi or Mark Rylance, but they don't believe Shakespeare wrote the plays, either. It's something to think about the next time people start attacking skeptics.

    The evidence that Orson Welles made the well-known statement about Oxford goes back to a series of quotes in a book published in 1954. Welles neither refuted the statement attributed to him (nor any of the other statements attributed to him) in the remaining 31 years of his life

    You assume that Welles had read the book (it was a book of celebrity tittle-tattle) or there was a controversy which might have drawn his attention to it. But even if that was the case, you build too much on too little. I would argue that those 31 years of silence on the matter actually show that Welles wasn’t a committed Oxfordian or that he attached little importance to the matter.

    This article makes a plausible case that if Welles believed in the Oxford case in 1954, it was likely based on Ogburn’s book of 1952, but that he went cool on the idea, whether through further reflection or simple indifference: http://shakespearebyanothername.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/welles-enigma-welles-oxfordian.html

  170. The anti-Shakespeare arguments are

    a) class-based – they want the author to be an aristo not some bright kid who simply listened to all the traveler’s tales told at an inn.

    b) homosexual-based, the usual everyone in history was gay spiel

  171. @Thursday
    Marlowe was apparently into a lot of cloak and dagger stuff. But it's still a really big stretch to say he faked his death and was using Shakespeare as a front.

    Oh, I didn’t say that it was believable, just that in an odd way it shows more acknowledgement of the evidence than the Oxfordian theory does.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Yes, that version of the Marlowe theory does at least acknowledge that an already dead author is implausible.
  172. @James Kabala
    Oh, I didn't say that it was believable, just that in an odd way it shows more acknowledgement of the evidence than the Oxfordian theory does.

    Yes, that version of the Marlowe theory does at least acknowledge that an already dead author is implausible.

  173. @Steve Sailer
    I don't get what problems the anti-Shakespeare theories are supposed to solve.

    The basic problem of Shakespeare's plausibility is: could one guy have written all this great stuff in such a short number of years?

    The most obvious suggestion would be that maybe Shakespeare had a writing partner who chose to remain silent. After all, lots of movies and plays have been written over the years by two person partnerships. For example, if you want to know how the Coen Brothers have gotten so much good work done over the years, you start with there being two of them.

    Similarly, during Shakespeare's time, Beaumont and Fletcher were a prominent team, and Shakespeare himself collaborated with Fletcher late in Shakespeare's career.

    So, maybe Shakespeare had a partner who shared fairly equally in the writing, but who chose to remain obscure. This isn't a wholly crazy idea: anonymity and pseudonyms were pretty common into the 19th Century. The idea that Shakespeare might have been the public face of a 2 man team, one of whom chose to remain occluded isn't prima facie absurd.

    One problem with this theory is that textual analysis doesn't see two authors in Shakespeare's best plays, but does see them in his work with Fletcher.

    But the bigger problem is that basically, nobody believes it. All the anti-Shakespeare theorists want to believe that Shakespeare wasn't the cowriter, that he wasn't the writer at all, and that all the plays were written by one guy (which one is still up for dispute).

    But deleting Shakespeare and inserting somebody else doesn't get us anywhere toward answering the big question: how did one guy write all that good stuff?

    The answer to your question came our be as easy as, “He was a genius.”

    One problem anti-Shakespeareans, or some of them, are supposed to solve is how someone of Shakespeare’s station could write what he did. They want him to be versed in the classics, familiar with courtly life, well-traveled, conversant in various disciplines like law and medicine and astronomy, and so on.

  174. @Thursday
    One thing is that Shakespeare didn't bother inventing many of his own plots.

    A second thing is that not all the plays are on the super high "Shakespeare" level.

    When you average it out, it only works out to one really good play a year over several years.

    I'm not sure that as a total volume Shakespeare's best verse is any more than long poems like The Iliad, The Canterbury Tales, or Paradise Lost.

    -----

    There is some evidence that Middleton was involved in Macbeth. That's the only really great play of Shakespeare's with some evidence of collaboration, though Middleton was also involved in Timon of Athens. Pericles is a collaboration. There is some late stuff with Fletcher. The early Henry VI plays may have other hands.

    Bit that's just the actual writing. Shakespeare could have had people helping with plots and editing and such.

    “Shakespeare didn’t bother inventing many of his own plots”

    This is a pet peeve of mine. What Shakespeare took were outlines of plots. As anyone who’s ever tried to tell a story more complex than an anecdote ought to notice, plot is damnably intricate and entangling. You have to keep track of cause and effect and not contradict yourself. No outside source could tell Bill what line to give to what character in scene X that will be meaningful in scene Y, so that the meaning of the forged letter will be revealed to character A, who must be in this room passing to that room when character B is on his way to tell D something about C, but B is interrupted by A because if the letter, so that eventually C will be able to kill D, who wasn’t warned by B.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I didn't read much about Shakespeare, but I did read about Wagner. A lot of (lay)people don't give credit to Wagner for the drama parts of his music dramas (which, by the way, would never stand on their own without the music), based on the fact that he didn't invent the plots himself. This is nonsense, the plot itself is not nearly as important as how you are telling it, what are you showing on stage and what do you let your characters tell, etc. Wagner also faced the problem that there were often some contradictions in the plot line which he can paper over with some good music. Shakespeare couldn't do that.
  175. @Thursday
    As far as the large number of things Shakespeare wrote, you also have to make allowances for him being a freaking genius! Nobody doubts that Mozart wrote that huge bulk of music, even though he was only 35 when he died.

    Franz Schubert only made it to 31, and along with the rest of his prodigious, high quality output, he wrote over 600 songs.

  176. @Steve Sailer
    But not having a literary partnership means we don't have any progress toward answering the question of how all that literary work got done.

    But since the dating of the writing of the plays is so problematic for everyone (the Stratfordians do not agree on the dating or even the particular order), why do you assume the timeline must be compressed if Oxford had a major hand in it? It would seem that if Oxford was the principal/sole author then he had more time to produce the Canon. The conventional timeline from the early 1590’s to 1612 or so assumes a superhuman pace.
    That is the unreasonable position.

    A more reasonable position is that the author produced the Canon over roughly four decades, not two. But for mainstream academics, that will not do.

    Steve, no one identified the man from Stratford as the author of the Canon while that man was alive.

    The example of William Camden is telling: Camden was a historian and friend to poets and literary types – he knew Philip Sidney, Michael Drayton and may have been Ben Jonson’s teacher. Camden knew John and William Shakespeare in Stratford – he approved John Shakespeare’s application to have his coat of arms joined with his wife’s family, the Ardens in 1599. Yet three years later, Camden was accused of improperly granting coats of arms to 23 men, one of whom was John Shakespeare. Camden apparently acquitted himself of this charge, but this case left zero doubt that he knew John and William Shakespeare in Stratford.

    Camden praised poets as “God’s own creatures.” Camden knew and wrote about poets. He dabbled in poetry himself. He wrote about all the literary people he knew in both his diary and his books.

    Of William Shakespeare, of Stratford, a man he knew and had had repeated dealings with, Camden had nothing to say.

    Nothing.

    In that Camden was not unique.

    No one ever said anything about Stratford man’s (assumed) writing ability at all while he was alive.

    Why not?

    Because he never wrote anything worth praising, if anything at all!

    • Replies: @Thursday
    We know the performance dates.

    Your position here would also end up pushing back Marlowe's dates, as Shakespeare was drawing on Marlowe. In fact, Marlowe is the one who kicks off the Elizabethan theatre boom.

    I suppose one could posit Oxford writing closet dramas before Marlowe kicks the whole scene off, perhaps with Oxford influencing Marlowe, rather than the other way round, but then that just makes the theory even more nuts.
    , @Thursday
    Of William Shakespeare, of Stratford, a man he knew and had had repeated dealings with, Camden had nothing to say.

    Except, of course, Camden does mention Shakespeare as one among many of the best poets of the times in his Remains.

    Alternate authorship people like to make much of the fact that Camden calls Shakespeare a great poet in one place, but then doesn't mention him in another place when describing the origins of Stratford.
    , @Richard

    It would seem that if Oxford was the principal/sole author then he had more time to produce the Canon. The conventional timeline from the early 1590′s to 1612 or so assumes a superhuman pace.
    That is the unreasonable position.
     
    This is daft. There are about 40 plays, composed from about 1590 to 1613 under the normal view. One play every six months is not a superhuman pace. Ben Jonson bragged in the prologue to one of his comedies that he wrote it in five weeks. There is a surviving contract between Richard Brome and a playhouse in which he agreed to complete three plays a year. Thomas Heywood boasted that he was involved in more than 220 plays as either sole author or leading collaborator.
  177. @Paul Jolliffe
    But since the dating of the writing of the plays is so problematic for everyone (the Stratfordians do not agree on the dating or even the particular order), why do you assume the timeline must be compressed if Oxford had a major hand in it? It would seem that if Oxford was the principal/sole author then he had more time to produce the Canon. The conventional timeline from the early 1590's to 1612 or so assumes a superhuman pace.
    That is the unreasonable position.

    A more reasonable position is that the author produced the Canon over roughly four decades, not two. But for mainstream academics, that will not do.

    Steve, no one identified the man from Stratford as the author of the Canon while that man was alive.

    The example of William Camden is telling: Camden was a historian and friend to poets and literary types - he knew Philip Sidney, Michael Drayton and may have been Ben Jonson's teacher. Camden knew John and William Shakespeare in Stratford - he approved John Shakespeare's application to have his coat of arms joined with his wife's family, the Ardens in 1599. Yet three years later, Camden was accused of improperly granting coats of arms to 23 men, one of whom was John Shakespeare. Camden apparently acquitted himself of this charge, but this case left zero doubt that he knew John and William Shakespeare in Stratford.

    Camden praised poets as "God's own creatures." Camden knew and wrote about poets. He dabbled in poetry himself. He wrote about all the literary people he knew in both his diary and his books.

    Of William Shakespeare, of Stratford, a man he knew and had had repeated dealings with, Camden had nothing to say.

    Nothing.

    In that Camden was not unique.

    No one ever said anything about Stratford man's (assumed) writing ability at all while he was alive.

    Why not?

    Because he never wrote anything worth praising, if anything at all!

    We know the performance dates.

    Your position here would also end up pushing back Marlowe’s dates, as Shakespeare was drawing on Marlowe. In fact, Marlowe is the one who kicks off the Elizabethan theatre boom.

    I suppose one could posit Oxford writing closet dramas before Marlowe kicks the whole scene off, perhaps with Oxford influencing Marlowe, rather than the other way round, but then that just makes the theory even more nuts.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Have any successful playwrights ever championed the notion that Shakespeare's plays were really written in the closet years before they were mounted. That doesn't seem to be the way that successful plays get finished.
    , @Steve Sailer
    Have many successful playwrights championed the notion that Shakespeare's plays were really written in the closet years before they were mounted. That doesn't seem to be the way that successful plays get finished.
  178. @Paul Jolliffe
    But since the dating of the writing of the plays is so problematic for everyone (the Stratfordians do not agree on the dating or even the particular order), why do you assume the timeline must be compressed if Oxford had a major hand in it? It would seem that if Oxford was the principal/sole author then he had more time to produce the Canon. The conventional timeline from the early 1590's to 1612 or so assumes a superhuman pace.
    That is the unreasonable position.

    A more reasonable position is that the author produced the Canon over roughly four decades, not two. But for mainstream academics, that will not do.

    Steve, no one identified the man from Stratford as the author of the Canon while that man was alive.

    The example of William Camden is telling: Camden was a historian and friend to poets and literary types - he knew Philip Sidney, Michael Drayton and may have been Ben Jonson's teacher. Camden knew John and William Shakespeare in Stratford - he approved John Shakespeare's application to have his coat of arms joined with his wife's family, the Ardens in 1599. Yet three years later, Camden was accused of improperly granting coats of arms to 23 men, one of whom was John Shakespeare. Camden apparently acquitted himself of this charge, but this case left zero doubt that he knew John and William Shakespeare in Stratford.

    Camden praised poets as "God's own creatures." Camden knew and wrote about poets. He dabbled in poetry himself. He wrote about all the literary people he knew in both his diary and his books.

    Of William Shakespeare, of Stratford, a man he knew and had had repeated dealings with, Camden had nothing to say.

    Nothing.

    In that Camden was not unique.

    No one ever said anything about Stratford man's (assumed) writing ability at all while he was alive.

    Why not?

    Because he never wrote anything worth praising, if anything at all!

    Of William Shakespeare, of Stratford, a man he knew and had had repeated dealings with, Camden had nothing to say.

    Except, of course, Camden does mention Shakespeare as one among many of the best poets of the times in his Remains.

    Alternate authorship people like to make much of the fact that Camden calls Shakespeare a great poet in one place, but then doesn’t mention him in another place when describing the origins of Stratford.

  179. @Thursday
    We know the performance dates.

    Your position here would also end up pushing back Marlowe's dates, as Shakespeare was drawing on Marlowe. In fact, Marlowe is the one who kicks off the Elizabethan theatre boom.

    I suppose one could posit Oxford writing closet dramas before Marlowe kicks the whole scene off, perhaps with Oxford influencing Marlowe, rather than the other way round, but then that just makes the theory even more nuts.

    Have any successful playwrights ever championed the notion that Shakespeare’s plays were really written in the closet years before they were mounted. That doesn’t seem to be the way that successful plays get finished.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    To be fair, there are some pretty good works in dramatic form which were never performed or even really intended for the stage. For example, Goethe's Faust or Shelley's Prometheus Unbound. But Shakespeare's works are exceptionally well suited for theatrical performance, so I'm inclined to agree with you in his case.
  180. @Thursday
    We know the performance dates.

    Your position here would also end up pushing back Marlowe's dates, as Shakespeare was drawing on Marlowe. In fact, Marlowe is the one who kicks off the Elizabethan theatre boom.

    I suppose one could posit Oxford writing closet dramas before Marlowe kicks the whole scene off, perhaps with Oxford influencing Marlowe, rather than the other way round, but then that just makes the theory even more nuts.

    Have many successful playwrights championed the notion that Shakespeare’s plays were really written in the closet years before they were mounted. That doesn’t seem to be the way that successful plays get finished.

  181. @Paul Jolliffe
    But since the dating of the writing of the plays is so problematic for everyone (the Stratfordians do not agree on the dating or even the particular order), why do you assume the timeline must be compressed if Oxford had a major hand in it? It would seem that if Oxford was the principal/sole author then he had more time to produce the Canon. The conventional timeline from the early 1590's to 1612 or so assumes a superhuman pace.
    That is the unreasonable position.

    A more reasonable position is that the author produced the Canon over roughly four decades, not two. But for mainstream academics, that will not do.

    Steve, no one identified the man from Stratford as the author of the Canon while that man was alive.

    The example of William Camden is telling: Camden was a historian and friend to poets and literary types - he knew Philip Sidney, Michael Drayton and may have been Ben Jonson's teacher. Camden knew John and William Shakespeare in Stratford - he approved John Shakespeare's application to have his coat of arms joined with his wife's family, the Ardens in 1599. Yet three years later, Camden was accused of improperly granting coats of arms to 23 men, one of whom was John Shakespeare. Camden apparently acquitted himself of this charge, but this case left zero doubt that he knew John and William Shakespeare in Stratford.

    Camden praised poets as "God's own creatures." Camden knew and wrote about poets. He dabbled in poetry himself. He wrote about all the literary people he knew in both his diary and his books.

    Of William Shakespeare, of Stratford, a man he knew and had had repeated dealings with, Camden had nothing to say.

    Nothing.

    In that Camden was not unique.

    No one ever said anything about Stratford man's (assumed) writing ability at all while he was alive.

    Why not?

    Because he never wrote anything worth praising, if anything at all!

    It would seem that if Oxford was the principal/sole author then he had more time to produce the Canon. The conventional timeline from the early 1590′s to 1612 or so assumes a superhuman pace.
    That is the unreasonable position.

    This is daft. There are about 40 plays, composed from about 1590 to 1613 under the normal view. One play every six months is not a superhuman pace. Ben Jonson bragged in the prologue to one of his comedies that he wrote it in five weeks. There is a surviving contract between Richard Brome and a playhouse in which he agreed to complete three plays a year. Thomas Heywood boasted that he was involved in more than 220 plays as either sole author or leading collaborator.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Okay, but it's hard to keep up Shakespeare's pace and writing really good stuff. Compare to Stoppard who went 11 years in his prime between The Real Thing and Arcadia.

    One difference is that Stoppard had lots of other opportunities, such as film scripts, to work on, plus he had the weight of reputation to deal with. Shakespeare had only one job and wasn't dealing with the weight of history very much.

    , @I, Libertine
    No it isn't. According to you Stratfordians, we was also the troupe's principal actor and business manager. In addition to all of his business dealings in Stratford, such as money lending, grain dealing (and hoarding) etc. At it was a two day trip back and forth to Stratford in those days. You claim that he was one busy guy.
  182. @Richard

    It would seem that if Oxford was the principal/sole author then he had more time to produce the Canon. The conventional timeline from the early 1590′s to 1612 or so assumes a superhuman pace.
    That is the unreasonable position.
     
    This is daft. There are about 40 plays, composed from about 1590 to 1613 under the normal view. One play every six months is not a superhuman pace. Ben Jonson bragged in the prologue to one of his comedies that he wrote it in five weeks. There is a surviving contract between Richard Brome and a playhouse in which he agreed to complete three plays a year. Thomas Heywood boasted that he was involved in more than 220 plays as either sole author or leading collaborator.

    Okay, but it’s hard to keep up Shakespeare’s pace and writing really good stuff. Compare to Stoppard who went 11 years in his prime between The Real Thing and Arcadia.

    One difference is that Stoppard had lots of other opportunities, such as film scripts, to work on, plus he had the weight of reputation to deal with. Shakespeare had only one job and wasn’t dealing with the weight of history very much.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Many people are a bit loathe to admit this, but Shakespeare's work varies quite a bit in quality. The early stuff is merely good Marlowe imitation. But even when he was at the height of his powers, he was not consistent. For example, Much Ado About Nothing, All's Well That Ends Well, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale are all good enough storytelling, and they do have some full on "Shakespeare" moments, but they're definitely well below the level of Henry IV, As You Like It, Hamlet, Lear, Othello, Anthony and Cleopatra, The Tempest and a few others. Even the story of the lovers in something like A Midsummer Night's Dream is pretty by the numbers.

    There are also examples of artists that did a alot, at a very high level. Dickens is an example. Proust only wrote one novel, but it's 3000 pages long and nearly Shakepearean in quality. We've already mentioned Mozart and Schubert in music. Hitchcock might be an example in film. And Shakespeare's 38 plays pales in comparison to the numbers for the classical playwrights: Aeschylus 90 plays, Euripides 92, Sophocles 120.

    So, taking the variable quality of his work and given the example of other artists, I don't think Shakespeare's ability to crank out 38 plays in 20 years is particularly impossible.
  183. @guest
    "Shakespeare didn't bother inventing many of his own plots"

    This is a pet peeve of mine. What Shakespeare took were outlines of plots. As anyone who's ever tried to tell a story more complex than an anecdote ought to notice, plot is damnably intricate and entangling. You have to keep track of cause and effect and not contradict yourself. No outside source could tell Bill what line to give to what character in scene X that will be meaningful in scene Y, so that the meaning of the forged letter will be revealed to character A, who must be in this room passing to that room when character B is on his way to tell D something about C, but B is interrupted by A because if the letter, so that eventually C will be able to kill D, who wasn't warned by B.

    I didn’t read much about Shakespeare, but I did read about Wagner. A lot of (lay)people don’t give credit to Wagner for the drama parts of his music dramas (which, by the way, would never stand on their own without the music), based on the fact that he didn’t invent the plots himself. This is nonsense, the plot itself is not nearly as important as how you are telling it, what are you showing on stage and what do you let your characters tell, etc. Wagner also faced the problem that there were often some contradictions in the plot line which he can paper over with some good music. Shakespeare couldn’t do that.

  184. @Richard

    It would seem that if Oxford was the principal/sole author then he had more time to produce the Canon. The conventional timeline from the early 1590′s to 1612 or so assumes a superhuman pace.
    That is the unreasonable position.
     
    This is daft. There are about 40 plays, composed from about 1590 to 1613 under the normal view. One play every six months is not a superhuman pace. Ben Jonson bragged in the prologue to one of his comedies that he wrote it in five weeks. There is a surviving contract between Richard Brome and a playhouse in which he agreed to complete three plays a year. Thomas Heywood boasted that he was involved in more than 220 plays as either sole author or leading collaborator.

    No it isn’t. According to you Stratfordians, we was also the troupe’s principal actor and business manager. In addition to all of his business dealings in Stratford, such as money lending, grain dealing (and hoarding) etc. At it was a two day trip back and forth to Stratford in those days. You claim that he was one busy guy.

    • Replies: @Richard
    Shakespeare was never the troupe's principal actor (Richard Burbage was), and he was a shareholder in the King's Men, not the business manager. There are only a handful of business deals back in Stratford scattered over the years. But even if you had troubled to get all your facts right, busy guys get a lot more things done than lazy guys.
  185. We should be he, of course.

  186. @I, Libertine
    No it isn't. According to you Stratfordians, we was also the troupe's principal actor and business manager. In addition to all of his business dealings in Stratford, such as money lending, grain dealing (and hoarding) etc. At it was a two day trip back and forth to Stratford in those days. You claim that he was one busy guy.

    Shakespeare was never the troupe’s principal actor (Richard Burbage was), and he was a shareholder in the King’s Men, not the business manager. There are only a handful of business deals back in Stratford scattered over the years. But even if you had troubled to get all your facts right, busy guys get a lot more things done than lazy guys.

    • Replies: @SPMoore8
    Burbage was the principal actor, but Shakespeare was listed first in the Folio. Actually, Shakespeare was involved in numerous business deals and purchases of property and shares in Stratford, which raises the question of how he made his money. He didn't make it writing plays, because plays were cheap. So we really don't know what he was doing with the King's Men.

    Also, Heywood's quote is that he had "an entire hand or at least a maine finger in two hundred and twenty plays" -- which means that he contributed to 220 plays, ranging from a large block to a few lines, not that he wrote a single one by himself.
    , @I, Libertine
    Since I was mere reciting the conventional Stratfordians' view, it is them whom you charge with not having their facts straight. Don't blame me. In reality, his involvement with the Kings Men and Chamberlain's men is much more poorly documented than they suppose. But it's better documented than his supposed playwrighting. Not a single page from a play in his own hand. Not even a single letter - from a guy who continuously went back an forth between Stratford and London, a circumstance conducive to correspondence, no?
  187. @Richard
    Shakespeare was never the troupe's principal actor (Richard Burbage was), and he was a shareholder in the King's Men, not the business manager. There are only a handful of business deals back in Stratford scattered over the years. But even if you had troubled to get all your facts right, busy guys get a lot more things done than lazy guys.

    Burbage was the principal actor, but Shakespeare was listed first in the Folio. Actually, Shakespeare was involved in numerous business deals and purchases of property and shares in Stratford, which raises the question of how he made his money. He didn’t make it writing plays, because plays were cheap. So we really don’t know what he was doing with the King’s Men.

    Also, Heywood’s quote is that he had “an entire hand or at least a maine finger in two hundred and twenty plays” — which means that he contributed to 220 plays, ranging from a large block to a few lines, not that he wrote a single one by himself.

    • Replies: @Richard
    Records show that Shakespeare was a shareholder, playwright and actor for the King's Men, so it's false to say we don't know what he was doing with the company. Most of his money would have come from his company ownership interests, unless his patrons like Southampton were very generous (and they may have been). You imply you're correcting me on the number of business deals Shakespeare was doing in Stratford, but are vague on how. The other poster had suggested or implied that Shakespeare was too preoccupied in Stratford to get much done in London, but there simply aren't many of those transactions preserved in the town archives. Maybe you should list them, month by month and year by year, if you think they amount to a time crunch.

    You're all adrift on Heywood. I said Heywood boasted of being sole author or leading collaborator in 220 plays, which is what "entire hand or at least a main finger" means. The range is from the whole thing to a large block, not large block to "a few lines" (!).
  188. @SPMoore8
    Burbage was the principal actor, but Shakespeare was listed first in the Folio. Actually, Shakespeare was involved in numerous business deals and purchases of property and shares in Stratford, which raises the question of how he made his money. He didn't make it writing plays, because plays were cheap. So we really don't know what he was doing with the King's Men.

    Also, Heywood's quote is that he had "an entire hand or at least a maine finger in two hundred and twenty plays" -- which means that he contributed to 220 plays, ranging from a large block to a few lines, not that he wrote a single one by himself.

    Records show that Shakespeare was a shareholder, playwright and actor for the King’s Men, so it’s false to say we don’t know what he was doing with the company. Most of his money would have come from his company ownership interests, unless his patrons like Southampton were very generous (and they may have been). You imply you’re correcting me on the number of business deals Shakespeare was doing in Stratford, but are vague on how. The other poster had suggested or implied that Shakespeare was too preoccupied in Stratford to get much done in London, but there simply aren’t many of those transactions preserved in the town archives. Maybe you should list them, month by month and year by year, if you think they amount to a time crunch.

    You’re all adrift on Heywood. I said Heywood boasted of being sole author or leading collaborator in 220 plays, which is what “entire hand or at least a main finger” means. The range is from the whole thing to a large block, not large block to “a few lines” (!).

    • Replies: @SPMoore8
    Records indicate that Shakespeare was a 1/10th shareholder in the company, and his name appears on some title pages of some plays. We don't know (for sure) what his acting duties were and we don't know (for sure) whatever else he was doing for the company. And we certainly don't know how he made his money. The idea that Southampton was generous is nice, but there's no evidence for that.

    I don't believe that Shakespeare's business dealings amounted to a time crunch, I'm simply saying he spent a lot of money in Stratford, money he didn't make writing plays.

    I think you're simply wrong on Heywood. He is contrasting "entire hand" against "maine finger": he is not saying "sole hand". For an example of Heywood's "maine finger" consult Sir Thomas More: two small additions.
  189. @Steve Sailer
    Think about the Coens' Hollywood movie "Barton Fink." John Mahoney plays a screenwriter modeled upon William Faulkner, who is a font of gentlemanly advice for Barton during the 2 hours per day that he's not roaring drunk, the rest of the time his secretary/mistress, played by Judy Davis, tries to keep him from injuring himself. As Barton and her become more friendly, Barton learns that she has progressed over the years from typing to proofreading to editing to collaborating upon the great writer's manuscripts, and in fact she wrote every word of his last two novels.

    In real life, Gladys Hill was writer-director John Huston's secretary. Her duties expanded to the point where he ultimately gave her several co-writer credits. They shared in the Oscar nomination for adapting The Man Who Would Be King.

    How many more examples are there like this? It's hard to say.

    Anyway, if you wanted to tell me that Shakespeare had a writing partner who was either too high in rank to put his name on the plays or too humble in rank to demand credit, neither hypothesis is immediately ridiculous. It's a little bit like saying that all those catchy Beatles songs couldn't have been written just by one guy: yeah, they were written by two guys, with a few excellent ones written by a third guy, and maybe a fourth guy, and their producer George Martin wasn't exactly tone deaf either. But if you say that the Beatles didn't write any of their songs, they were all written by Phil Spector, I don't feel like we're making much progress.

    As Barton and her become more friendly,

    Say it ain’t so, Joe.

  190. @yaqub the mad scientist
    Shakespeare may have been widely championed as a visionary...

    Where? I've never seen Shakespeare described in any terms that would fit the word "visionary".
    Have you? Perhaps someone who knows 16th century theater better than me can tell me where he's visionary,, as in forward-thinking, progressive, ground breaking, or ahead-of-his-time. Maybe he is in some technical sense of the development of modern theater, but from the content of the plays to the criticism I've read, he seems a man of his time with a cautious, moderate temperament, writing in the modes of his time.

    Lazy writing here.

    I can’t offer a citation from memory, but a lot of 20th century Shakespeare criticism focused on him as a pioneer of getting inside the heads of his characters:

    -differentiating them as individuals more thoroughly than literature and drama had done, at least in English but probably in most of the western canon
    -differentiating characters as having character in the sense we understand, rather than merely acting as stereotypes/archetypes/stock characters or playing out the social and dramatic role their character should naturally have, and has had in countless other dramas
    -elaborating for the audience on interior motivations in a way that once would have been wholly opaque, or left to inference

    Now there may be some special pleading in all that. I’m not convinced, perhaps as I am too ignorant of earlier literature, that previous drama was wholly stock characters, or that Bill’s work is free of them.

    But I can see the way in which the Iliad might be considered to contain a bevy of stock characters, even if they seem to have ‘some’ interiority to them. Or the Aeneid. I just don’t know how tenable the thesis is for such works.

    On the other hand, medieval drama is an epic of archetypes without interiority. Even their emotional turmoil is stylized for effect and they behave in ways incomprehensible except as a consequence of their narrative function. Even if we moderns think some Shakespeare characters’ are unbelievable idiots [Lear] or need mood stabilizers or someone to kick them and tell them to make up their minds [Hamlet], their emotional failings are recognizable to us and their thought processes not unlike our own, and we know because they have shared them with us.

    Moderns can understand Henry or Hamlet much better than any version of the Arthur saga, I find.

    Or consider just one small example. Falstaff is on some level the stock character of a miles gloriosus, the braggart soldier. Shakespeare does more with him than that, and gives him an interior life and narrative we can understand, even if in the end he is not likeable. [I finally got the chance to see Orson Welles’ “Chimes at Midnight” this year. I can’t say I enjoyed that very much, and it definitely does not make Falstaff sympathetic for the most part, especially if one follows the interpretation that he was always a boastful liar, thief, and of no-account. Even if he once was the hero he claims to be, he has become all those negatives and sympathy rather drains away.]

  191. @anonymous
    The NY Times article on Shakespeare you link to gets something wrong. Apparently until recently it was not known in the literary community that Milan was an inland seaport in Shakespeare's time, thanks to canals, originally due to cathedral building, and then due to all those wars and fort building in the Po valley. Probably a significant reason for the area's prominence in the Renaissance (Leonardo one of the military canal engineers during the times of the wars):

    "William Shakespeare, Playwright and Poet, Is Dead at 52", Louis Bayard, NYT, Apr 23, 2016:


    "...No one seems to have informed him that Milan and Verona are not seaports."

     

    "Medieval canals in Northern Italy to be reopened: Canal cruises into past prove Shakespeare was right", Richard Owen, 12 January 2009, The Times (via medievalnews.blogspot.com):


    "...Italy is to reopen medieval and Renaissance inland waterways so that tourists can travel over 500 kilometres (300 miles) by boat from Lake Maggiore to Venice via Milan.

    This summer engineers will start clearing eight kilometres of canals from the southern end of Lake Maggiore at Sesto Calende to Somma Lombardo. Alessandro Meinardi, of the Navigli Lombardi (Lombardy Canals) company, which is overseeing the project, said that the aim was to make navigable the whole of the 14th-century 140-kilometre stretch of waterways from Locarno in Switzerland to Milan.

    The restored canal system would eventually link up with the River Po, winding its way to Venice by way of Pavia, Piacenza, Cremona and Ferrara.

    Whereas the waterways used to transport goods, they would now enable visitors to take "the slow route" to Venice, "drifting past the Italian Renaissance landscape". The billion euros (£886 million) project aims to revive what was once a main transport artery, as confirmed by casual references to Milan in Shakespeare's plays as an inland port.

    ...the first part of the route was originally used to transport marble... begun in 1386. The trip, using horsedrawn barges known as cagnone, took two weeks, with each barge carrying up to 50 tonnes of stone.

    Mr Meinardi said the canals began falling into disuse in the 1930s...

    ...The canals of Milan were first built in the 12th century by Benedictine and Cistercian monks, and later expanded in line with designs by Leonardo da Vinci, linking the city to the sea. "

     

    Navigli canals:


    "...the decline was steady and by the 1960s a project of a fluvial port to reach the Po River and consequentially the Adriatic Sea through the canals was shelved for good."

     

    The Leonardo Trail: Boat trips:


    "...Leonardo da Vinci spent much of his life in Milan and Lombardy. He first arrived in 1482 at the age of 30 to enter the court of Ludovico il Moro as an engineer to build defensive fortifications and war machines... as he said himself:

    ...In time of peace I believe I can give you as complete satisfaction as anyone else in architecture and in the construction of buildings both public and private, and in conducting water from one place to another...

    ...it is to his genius that we owe the mitre gates for canal locks known as da Vinci gates which he drew (Codiex Atlanticus f. 656a r, Milano, Biblioteca Ambrosiana) for the Martesana which finally entered Milan in the final years of the 16th century and fulfilled the dream of the Sforzas to join the waters of the Adda with the Ticino. Da Vinci gates are still in use on canals all over the world."

     

    Here is a modern map of the system (from a modern worldwide canal conference): The Po River valley canal system.

    A lot of what became modern high school algebra came out this.

    More esoteric than usual, but score another couple of points for NYTimes writers and modern literati not actually knowing anything.

  192. @Richard
    Records show that Shakespeare was a shareholder, playwright and actor for the King's Men, so it's false to say we don't know what he was doing with the company. Most of his money would have come from his company ownership interests, unless his patrons like Southampton were very generous (and they may have been). You imply you're correcting me on the number of business deals Shakespeare was doing in Stratford, but are vague on how. The other poster had suggested or implied that Shakespeare was too preoccupied in Stratford to get much done in London, but there simply aren't many of those transactions preserved in the town archives. Maybe you should list them, month by month and year by year, if you think they amount to a time crunch.

    You're all adrift on Heywood. I said Heywood boasted of being sole author or leading collaborator in 220 plays, which is what "entire hand or at least a main finger" means. The range is from the whole thing to a large block, not large block to "a few lines" (!).

    Records indicate that Shakespeare was a 1/10th shareholder in the company, and his name appears on some title pages of some plays. We don’t know (for sure) what his acting duties were and we don’t know (for sure) whatever else he was doing for the company. And we certainly don’t know how he made his money. The idea that Southampton was generous is nice, but there’s no evidence for that.

    I don’t believe that Shakespeare’s business dealings amounted to a time crunch, I’m simply saying he spent a lot of money in Stratford, money he didn’t make writing plays.

    I think you’re simply wrong on Heywood. He is contrasting “entire hand” against “maine finger”: he is not saying “sole hand”. For an example of Heywood’s “maine finger” consult Sir Thomas More: two small additions.

    • Replies: @Richard
    I should add that when Heywood made that "entire hand or at least a main finger" boast, it was in a preface to his play "The English Traveller," which he said was one of the 220. "The English Traveller" is written entirely by Heywood.
  193. @blankmisgivings
    Two Antonios - Merchant of Venice and Twelth Night - may be same sex inclined. Obviously a 'gay' identity is absurd presentism when applied to Shakespeare's world - but he does seem to have found same sex attraction an interesting focus - whether from the Marlovian 'pederasty' fad of the times, from his own bisexual inclination, or from the literary influence of Ovid, or all three.

    Needless to say I think Shakespeare's own politics and social theory veer between stoical nihilism, conservative nihilism, cheerful nihilism and vehement nihilism - there is certainly nothing of the progressive in it!

    Considering the society he lived in was emerging from medieval Christianity and was still [arguably more so] intensely religious, a case can be made that nihilism was a progressive philosophical position, insofar as it was more or less secular, worldly, and made no provision for benevolent divine intervention or cosmological hope.

    One or another form of nihilism gets taken up as at least one strand of the progressive intellectual tendency in many ages- Nietzsche and his existentialist French heirs would be examples. The former is impossible to wholly characterize, but his philosophy was neither conservative nor reactionary. The French existentialists were not easy to pigeonhole either, but Sartre at least could be considered a man of the left and that would be consistent with his philosophy. Camus, harder to call it.

    It would be an interesting study- the interplay of optimism and pessimism with conservative or progressive [or perhaps better, radical] intellectual tendencies in any given age. One also gets the philosophies that begin with a nihilistic proposition [there is no God and no Heaven and no authoritative moral order] and end with a hopeful but substitute one [we can make our own paradise and deduce a moral order].

    • Replies: @Thursday
    I'm doubtful that Shakespeare was a nihilist. For example, if you look at something like Macbeth's Tomorrow speech, it comes after he's already waded through an ocean of blood. Of course life is absurd, if you're a Macbeth.

    We moderns have a tendency to project too much of ourselves into the past.

  194. @dcite
    Yes, sabril, there are women of substance, at least on my planet. I don't know if these ladies are "academics" (why academics? what script are you stuck in?) but such females are probably older than 17, and therefore would not interest you.

    It seems to me that it is common here for commenters to use the preludes: "I would guess" or "it would seem" or "my sense is" and then go on to conclude, as if empirical, whatever their pre-clusions had already decided on.
    Unless you have statistics, unless you actually record lady "academic" conversations, and analyze for style and substance, and can repeat the experiment, I find your opinion most impertinent. It may even be lacking in substance. Most of us wake up sooner or later and realize most of what we've been talking and thinking about most of our lives is dreck, and the little bit of exalted thought and speech was the only thing worth the trouble. That's where poets and mystics come in.

    Back to Shakespeare. My nephew thinks deVere wrote a lot of his plays, and he's been on the case since he was 13, almost 20 years.

    I certainly know plenty of women of substance. It’s just that the Bechdel tests seems nuts on a couple of levels:

    1. Men and women both tend to talk a lot about one another. While there IS an imbalance, men in film do spend a lot of time contemplating women one way or another.

    2. I’m only 45, but it my experience it is more likely that men will talk about something other than women that it is likely that [hetero] women will talk about something other than men. Not that men won’t come back to women, or that women can’t have long discussions of physics or Shakespeare. Only that women will come back to men before men come back to women. SO far, it looks hardwired.

    3. A fair chunk of women’s’ writing in print or for the screen seems to focus on the desire of women for men. It seems a major concern.

    4. Much women’s writing on the concerns of women other than those related to men seems to be on subjects that are of interest to women, genuinely and properly, but of limited interest to men. If women are bringing in the major cash to cinemas, I don’t know why this is not reflected in movies being greenlit. Money is money. I can only speculate either that women go to the movies less often or spend less, or that these kinds of subjects so dominate their real lives that they don’t want to see movies about them all the time either.

    5. Much cinema focusing on female characters is written by gay men or crazy women. Or crazy women wishing to emulate gay men.

    The emblematic movies for number 5 would be Sex and the City. For number 4 it could be Bridget Jones. I was entertained by the first of the latter franchise, but that’s about it.

  195. @I, Libertine
    Who,if anyone, Stratford guy was to the real author is a distinct question from the identity of the real author. You know what's inconsistent? Assuming that the Stratford guy was a genius when genius explains what he got right, but a non-genius when lack of genius explains what he got wrong. Like when they argue that he "mistakenly" thought that Venice had streets.

    I’m not sure there is a definition of ‘genius’ that requires the person so honoured get everything right, especially on matters of fact or research. Genius and diligence of research are not the same concept.

    Also, Venice has some streets. It’s not all canal all the time. I don’t know if that was true then- they may have filled in some canals since 1600. Certainly in the 20th and 21st century it has some streets. Or was that also your point- I may have misread.

    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    Once again, I reference an error made by Stratfordians, only to have the error attributed to me. I explain: in a prior debate on the topic conducted in iSteve comments about six years ago, one of the Stratfordians ( I won't embarrass him by naming him), in an attempt to show that the author had never visited Italy (and thus was not deVere) said that the playwright didn't know Venice because he mistakenly thought it had streets. If you're unsure- Venice had streets then and still does. The author was in facts intimately familiar with Italy, and must have stayed there for an extended period of time. By the way, I suggest that you check that one out in the archives. Read as gone but not forgotten Mencius Moldbug wipes the with the Stratfordians.
  196. Well, no one said Shakespeare got most of his money from writing plays. Besides the shares in the King’s Men, he also had ownership shares in the Globe Theatre and Blackfriars playhouse (which were separate corporate entities). Plus he had patrons who clearly gave him money – Shakespeare dedicated two narrative poems to Southampton (which he wouldn’t have done if Southampton hadn’t rewarded the first), and the dedication to the First Folio mentions the “favors” Pembroke and the Earl of Montgomery had given Shakespeare. There’s nothing strange about the money he spent in Stratford when those facts are known.

    You’re flat out misreading Heywood. He’s giving a range of contribution, from “main finger” at lowest (the leading collaborator) to “entire hand” (he authored the entire play). The trivial additions to “Sir Thomas More” would not have been included in that tally. I’m looking right now at a bookshelf to my left where there’s a 6-volume set of “The Dramatic Works of Thomas Heywood” that contains all that survives, about 20 or 30 plays. Most of these, like “A Woman Killed with Kindness,” are of Heywood’s sole authorship. There are a few others written in collaboration. “The Late Lancashire Witches” for example he co-wrote with Richard Brome, whom I mentioned back a ways.

    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    Note that you see no need to explain how the boy from Stratford grew up to know such people as Southhampton. Of course, Oxford's familiarity with Southhampton need no footnoting.
  197. @SPMoore8
    Records indicate that Shakespeare was a 1/10th shareholder in the company, and his name appears on some title pages of some plays. We don't know (for sure) what his acting duties were and we don't know (for sure) whatever else he was doing for the company. And we certainly don't know how he made his money. The idea that Southampton was generous is nice, but there's no evidence for that.

    I don't believe that Shakespeare's business dealings amounted to a time crunch, I'm simply saying he spent a lot of money in Stratford, money he didn't make writing plays.

    I think you're simply wrong on Heywood. He is contrasting "entire hand" against "maine finger": he is not saying "sole hand". For an example of Heywood's "maine finger" consult Sir Thomas More: two small additions.

    I should add that when Heywood made that “entire hand or at least a main finger” boast, it was in a preface to his play “The English Traveller,” which he said was one of the 220. “The English Traveller” is written entirely by Heywood.

  198. @Thursday
    I don’t get what problems the anti-Shakespeare theories are supposed to solve.

    The main issue seems to be that people can't believe a commoner wrote the plays. This comes in snobbish and democratic forms. The snobs want Shakespeare to be a nobleman because they don't want to believe a mere commoner could have been so great. Others (like Walt Whitman) don't like the conservative politics in the plays, and can't believe a commoner would have gone along that sort of thing.

    Another issue is the lack of easily identifiable autobiographical material. This tends to drive people nuts. Their curious about the person behind the work. But Shakespeare doesn't provide much to go on here.

    But these are all problems in various readers, not problems inherent in the work itself.

    Myopic on Whitman’s part, as a 19th century American. In most times and places, the country gentry and the provincial bourgeoisie are the most reliable conservative elements, at least until they have no option but to abandon that position.

    And can Shakespeare really be considered conservative? Acceptance of hereditary monarchy was pretty normative. And on religion, everybody couldn’t be Marlowe.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    You're thinking of conservatism as an attitude towards change (which I think is ultimately incoherent). I'm thinking of conservatism as an attitude towards hierarchy.
  199. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t know anything Bechdel, but it seems pretty obvious that the test stuff isn’t about what people talk about going about their boring everyday lives, but about female characters in plot-filled works of fiction getting to do and talk about some of the interesting stuff relevant to that plot (instead of being The Girlfriend and just worrying about male characters in the absence of a plot of their own). You can disagree with proponents of the test without being obtuse about it.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    But it's not enough if one of the three main protagonists is a female who is actively involved in solving the problem. It's not even enough if one of the two main protagonists is a female blah blah blah. Because if the other one is (or other two are) male, then it fails the Bechdel test.

    The woman and the black guy in the New Star Wars talk to each other: it means nothing. It would only mean something if there was a second woman with whom the heroine could talk to about the problems. So the new Star Wars probably fails the Bechdel test, and it would fail a similar test with regards to blacks: two blacks talking to each other, and not about a white guy, or something. Now you might notice that the new Star Wars was a big piece of pro-feminist and pro-black propaganda. If it still fails the Bechdel test, then there might be a problem with the test itself.
  200. @Reg Cæsar

    The main issue seems to be that people can’t believe a commoner wrote the plays
     
    A "commoner" with a classical education, albeit an abbreviated one.

    Actually, every proposed alternate author was also a commoner, except Elizabeth I. And maybe even her-- Elizabeth II was born a commoner. It's a big tent.

    You have to use ‘commoner’ with care about England, even in recent times.

    If you didn’t yourself possess a title [or were an elder son and heir and used only a courtesy title from your father] you were eligible to sit in the House of Commons and vote for its members [since 1999 the hereditary peers no longer in the House of Lords also enjoy these rights], but nobody quite thinks of them or the sometimes untitled second or third sons or the daughters of the royal family or the high aristocracy as ‘commoners’ in any kind of social or bloodline sense.

    So while England didn’t have caste nobility like the continent [all offspring inherit title or at least inherit equally the tax and other status privileges, more or less forever], it did have a sense of who had better blood than others.

    The then Lady Diana Spencer was often mentioned in the press as a ‘commoner’ since she was not royal and was not herself a titled peer [there were some such women], she was the daughter of an earl [the ‘Lady’ indicating her derivative status as her father’s daughter].

    The future Queen Mother was also described as a commoner, which she was in the sense that the royals had long married other royals in the German fashion, and she was not, but she WAS also the daughter of an earl, from a very old aristocratic family.

    Queen Elizabeth I was never a commoner in the social sense either. She was legally a royal bastard, a status more or less understood to be fairly grand at the time, for most of her pre-crowning life, and at other times an acknowledged princess either singly or alongside sister Mary, depending on her father’s exact marital situation at any given point. Nobody at the time would have thought her a commoner, except in the aforementioned constitutional sense.

    A country squire or a rural bourgeois probably wouldn’t have thanked anyone who called him a commoner, but both and especially the latter could hardly have argued otherwise.

  201. @random observer
    Myopic on Whitman's part, as a 19th century American. In most times and places, the country gentry and the provincial bourgeoisie are the most reliable conservative elements, at least until they have no option but to abandon that position.

    And can Shakespeare really be considered conservative? Acceptance of hereditary monarchy was pretty normative. And on religion, everybody couldn't be Marlowe.

    You’re thinking of conservatism as an attitude towards change (which I think is ultimately incoherent). I’m thinking of conservatism as an attitude towards hierarchy.

  202. @Steve Sailer
    Okay, but it's hard to keep up Shakespeare's pace and writing really good stuff. Compare to Stoppard who went 11 years in his prime between The Real Thing and Arcadia.

    One difference is that Stoppard had lots of other opportunities, such as film scripts, to work on, plus he had the weight of reputation to deal with. Shakespeare had only one job and wasn't dealing with the weight of history very much.

    Many people are a bit loathe to admit this, but Shakespeare’s work varies quite a bit in quality. The early stuff is merely good Marlowe imitation. But even when he was at the height of his powers, he was not consistent. For example, Much Ado About Nothing, All’s Well That Ends Well, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale are all good enough storytelling, and they do have some full on “Shakespeare” moments, but they’re definitely well below the level of Henry IV, As You Like It, Hamlet, Lear, Othello, Anthony and Cleopatra, The Tempest and a few others. Even the story of the lovers in something like A Midsummer Night’s Dream is pretty by the numbers.

    There are also examples of artists that did a alot, at a very high level. Dickens is an example. Proust only wrote one novel, but it’s 3000 pages long and nearly Shakepearean in quality. We’ve already mentioned Mozart and Schubert in music. Hitchcock might be an example in film. And Shakespeare’s 38 plays pales in comparison to the numbers for the classical playwrights: Aeschylus 90 plays, Euripides 92, Sophocles 120.

    So, taking the variable quality of his work and given the example of other artists, I don’t think Shakespeare’s ability to crank out 38 plays in 20 years is particularly impossible.

  203. @Steve Sailer
    Have any successful playwrights ever championed the notion that Shakespeare's plays were really written in the closet years before they were mounted. That doesn't seem to be the way that successful plays get finished.

    To be fair, there are some pretty good works in dramatic form which were never performed or even really intended for the stage. For example, Goethe’s Faust or Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound. But Shakespeare’s works are exceptionally well suited for theatrical performance, so I’m inclined to agree with you in his case.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    The Let's Put on a Show kids love Shakespeare. Almost everybody else the Theater Kids love is 20th Century. Chekhov might be the oldest author other than Shakespeare whom they adore.
  204. @random observer
    Considering the society he lived in was emerging from medieval Christianity and was still [arguably more so] intensely religious, a case can be made that nihilism was a progressive philosophical position, insofar as it was more or less secular, worldly, and made no provision for benevolent divine intervention or cosmological hope.

    One or another form of nihilism gets taken up as at least one strand of the progressive intellectual tendency in many ages- Nietzsche and his existentialist French heirs would be examples. The former is impossible to wholly characterize, but his philosophy was neither conservative nor reactionary. The French existentialists were not easy to pigeonhole either, but Sartre at least could be considered a man of the left and that would be consistent with his philosophy. Camus, harder to call it.

    It would be an interesting study- the interplay of optimism and pessimism with conservative or progressive [or perhaps better, radical] intellectual tendencies in any given age. One also gets the philosophies that begin with a nihilistic proposition [there is no God and no Heaven and no authoritative moral order] and end with a hopeful but substitute one [we can make our own paradise and deduce a moral order].

    I’m doubtful that Shakespeare was a nihilist. For example, if you look at something like Macbeth’s Tomorrow speech, it comes after he’s already waded through an ocean of blood. Of course life is absurd, if you’re a Macbeth.

    We moderns have a tendency to project too much of ourselves into the past.

  205. @Richard
    Shakespeare was never the troupe's principal actor (Richard Burbage was), and he was a shareholder in the King's Men, not the business manager. There are only a handful of business deals back in Stratford scattered over the years. But even if you had troubled to get all your facts right, busy guys get a lot more things done than lazy guys.

    Since I was mere reciting the conventional Stratfordians’ view, it is them whom you charge with not having their facts straight. Don’t blame me. In reality, his involvement with the Kings Men and Chamberlain’s men is much more poorly documented than they suppose. But it’s better documented than his supposed playwrighting. Not a single page from a play in his own hand. Not even a single letter – from a guy who continuously went back an forth between Stratford and London, a circumstance conducive to correspondence, no?

    • Replies: @Richard
    Actually, there are three manuscript pages of "Sir Thomas More" that mainstream scholarship concludes is in Shakespeare's handwriting. However, let that pass; for the sake of argument, we'll stipulate that those scholars are wrong.

    For how many other playwrights from that time do we lack authorial manuscripts and handwritten letters? The answer is most, including such big names as Christopher Marlowe and John Webster. The point you raise is irrelevant because it lacks context, which is that most MSS and letters from Shakespeare's peers were not preserved.
  206. @random observer
    I'm not sure there is a definition of 'genius' that requires the person so honoured get everything right, especially on matters of fact or research. Genius and diligence of research are not the same concept.

    Also, Venice has some streets. It's not all canal all the time. I don't know if that was true then- they may have filled in some canals since 1600. Certainly in the 20th and 21st century it has some streets. Or was that also your point- I may have misread.

    Once again, I reference an error made by Stratfordians, only to have the error attributed to me. I explain: in a prior debate on the topic conducted in iSteve comments about six years ago, one of the Stratfordians ( I won’t embarrass him by naming him), in an attempt to show that the author had never visited Italy (and thus was not deVere) said that the playwright didn’t know Venice because he mistakenly thought it had streets. If you’re unsure- Venice had streets then and still does. The author was in facts intimately familiar with Italy, and must have stayed there for an extended period of time. By the way, I suggest that you check that one out in the archives. Read as gone but not forgotten Mencius Moldbug wipes the with the Stratfordians.

  207. @Thursday
    To be fair, there are some pretty good works in dramatic form which were never performed or even really intended for the stage. For example, Goethe's Faust or Shelley's Prometheus Unbound. But Shakespeare's works are exceptionally well suited for theatrical performance, so I'm inclined to agree with you in his case.

    The Let’s Put on a Show kids love Shakespeare. Almost everybody else the Theater Kids love is 20th Century. Chekhov might be the oldest author other than Shakespeare whom they adore.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Yup.

    You get a bit of classical drama: Oedipus, Antigone and Medea are most popular. Then Moliere and Racine, but only in France. Then it's on to Ibsen, Wilde, and Chekhov.

    So, basically between the Ancient Greeks and 1900 there's nobody anybody in theatre really cares about except Shakespeare. Which is somewhat strange, as Jonson was the bigger dramatist at the time, and Marlowe, who started the whole Elizabethan scene, provides some splendid rants.

  208. @Steve Sailer
    The Let's Put on a Show kids love Shakespeare. Almost everybody else the Theater Kids love is 20th Century. Chekhov might be the oldest author other than Shakespeare whom they adore.

    Yup.

    You get a bit of classical drama: Oedipus, Antigone and Medea are most popular. Then Moliere and Racine, but only in France. Then it’s on to Ibsen, Wilde, and Chekhov.

    So, basically between the Ancient Greeks and 1900 there’s nobody anybody in theatre really cares about except Shakespeare. Which is somewhat strange, as Jonson was the bigger dramatist at the time, and Marlowe, who started the whole Elizabethan scene, provides some splendid rants.

  209. @Richard
    Well, no one said Shakespeare got most of his money from writing plays. Besides the shares in the King's Men, he also had ownership shares in the Globe Theatre and Blackfriars playhouse (which were separate corporate entities). Plus he had patrons who clearly gave him money - Shakespeare dedicated two narrative poems to Southampton (which he wouldn't have done if Southampton hadn't rewarded the first), and the dedication to the First Folio mentions the "favors" Pembroke and the Earl of Montgomery had given Shakespeare. There's nothing strange about the money he spent in Stratford when those facts are known.

    You're flat out misreading Heywood. He's giving a range of contribution, from "main finger" at lowest (the leading collaborator) to "entire hand" (he authored the entire play). The trivial additions to "Sir Thomas More" would not have been included in that tally. I'm looking right now at a bookshelf to my left where there's a 6-volume set of "The Dramatic Works of Thomas Heywood" that contains all that survives, about 20 or 30 plays. Most of these, like "A Woman Killed with Kindness," are of Heywood's sole authorship. There are a few others written in collaboration. "The Late Lancashire Witches" for example he co-wrote with Richard Brome, whom I mentioned back a ways.

    Note that you see no need to explain how the boy from Stratford grew up to know such people as Southhampton. Of course, Oxford’s familiarity with Southhampton need no footnoting.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    How many aristocrats does Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger, or Bryan Ferry know?
    , @Richard
    Most poets knew patrons; it was in their line of work to hobnob with them. Christopher Marlowe, a cobbler's son from Canterbury, knew the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Strange and Sir Walter Ralegh, as well as hotshot scientists of the day like Thomas Hariot and Walter Warner. You again show no sense of context.
  210. @I, Libertine
    Note that you see no need to explain how the boy from Stratford grew up to know such people as Southhampton. Of course, Oxford's familiarity with Southhampton need no footnoting.

    How many aristocrats does Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger, or Bryan Ferry know?

  211. @I, Libertine
    Since I was mere reciting the conventional Stratfordians' view, it is them whom you charge with not having their facts straight. Don't blame me. In reality, his involvement with the Kings Men and Chamberlain's men is much more poorly documented than they suppose. But it's better documented than his supposed playwrighting. Not a single page from a play in his own hand. Not even a single letter - from a guy who continuously went back an forth between Stratford and London, a circumstance conducive to correspondence, no?

    Actually, there are three manuscript pages of “Sir Thomas More” that mainstream scholarship concludes is in Shakespeare’s handwriting. However, let that pass; for the sake of argument, we’ll stipulate that those scholars are wrong.

    For how many other playwrights from that time do we lack authorial manuscripts and handwritten letters? The answer is most, including such big names as Christopher Marlowe and John Webster. The point you raise is irrelevant because it lacks context, which is that most MSS and letters from Shakespeare’s peers were not preserved.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I was trying to look up on the Internet information about a funny morning DJ named Dick Whittington who was a meteoric star on Los Angeles radio in about 1968-1973. I found a bunch of references to him of the "Whatever happened to?" and "Remember when he invaded Catalina so America could win a war?" variety. (I wouldn't be completely surprised if it turned out that Ronald Reagan's invasion of Grenada could be traced back to Reagan listening to Whittington invade Catalina.)

    Here's a 2011 email interview in which he sounds still alive and funny:

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/morning-314864-radio-whittington.html

    But I didn't find any recordings of Whittington's morning show. Nobody bothered preserving them and/or there's no market for them and/or there are legal issues.

    I suspect playwrights were seen in 1600 like funny morning DJs were seen in 1970s: as celebrities, but whose work is ephemeral.

    In "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," the entire culture of 2600 AD is based on the albums of Bill and Ted's metal band Wild Stallyns. Probably to Shakespeare's contemporaries, the idea that Shakespeare would be the base of literary culture 400 years later would seem as funny as the joke in Bill and Ted.

  212. @I, Libertine
    Note that you see no need to explain how the boy from Stratford grew up to know such people as Southhampton. Of course, Oxford's familiarity with Southhampton need no footnoting.

    Most poets knew patrons; it was in their line of work to hobnob with them. Christopher Marlowe, a cobbler’s son from Canterbury, knew the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Strange and Sir Walter Ralegh, as well as hotshot scientists of the day like Thomas Hariot and Walter Warner. You again show no sense of context.

    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    See my reply to Steve, supra.
  213. @Richard
    Actually, there are three manuscript pages of "Sir Thomas More" that mainstream scholarship concludes is in Shakespeare's handwriting. However, let that pass; for the sake of argument, we'll stipulate that those scholars are wrong.

    For how many other playwrights from that time do we lack authorial manuscripts and handwritten letters? The answer is most, including such big names as Christopher Marlowe and John Webster. The point you raise is irrelevant because it lacks context, which is that most MSS and letters from Shakespeare's peers were not preserved.

    I was trying to look up on the Internet information about a funny morning DJ named Dick Whittington who was a meteoric star on Los Angeles radio in about 1968-1973. I found a bunch of references to him of the “Whatever happened to?” and “Remember when he invaded Catalina so America could win a war?” variety. (I wouldn’t be completely surprised if it turned out that Ronald Reagan’s invasion of Grenada could be traced back to Reagan listening to Whittington invade Catalina.)

    Here’s a 2011 email interview in which he sounds still alive and funny:

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/morning-314864-radio-whittington.html

    But I didn’t find any recordings of Whittington’s morning show. Nobody bothered preserving them and/or there’s no market for them and/or there are legal issues.

    I suspect playwrights were seen in 1600 like funny morning DJs were seen in 1970s: as celebrities, but whose work is ephemeral.

    In “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” the entire culture of 2600 AD is based on the albums of Bill and Ted’s metal band Wild Stallyns. Probably to Shakespeare’s contemporaries, the idea that Shakespeare would be the base of literary culture 400 years later would seem as funny as the joke in Bill and Ted.

    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    Steve, I have more respect for you than mere words can express, but: No Dick Wittington tapes survive, so it's understandable that nothing in Will's hand survives but six shaky signatures? Oy! Almost no Johnny Carson Tonight Show tapes from the New York City era survive, either. That's a stronger argument than your Dick Wittington one. Your welcome!

    You have a lacuna in your thinking that is exposed by this topic [No, I shouldn't say that. Leave the ad hominim for the Stratfordians].

    Also, please conduct a Shakespeare authorship debate at least once a year. They're fun.

    Richard, you seem like a good guy; you don't have the sarcastic, dismissive attitude of the typical Stratfordian debater. You didn't even mock me for my typos! This thread is about 15 post ago in iSteve real time. So I'll let you you get in the last word, after I make my last point, which is this:

    You say: Poets had patrons, so what's the big deal? Will, at the outset of his career, somehow roped in Southampton as his patron. "Somehow" is the critical part of your argument, the one I think you hope skeptics ignore. You have to assume not only that he had a patron, but that the patron was Southampton. What a coincidence, you therefore must contend! The sonnets urge a young man to wed, at a time when De Vere was hoping that Southampton would wed his daughter. But Will somehow got Southampton to be his patron, and that's enough for you.

    You need these suppositions: Will somehow learned esoteric legal terms that a boy from Stratford would never encounter; Will somehow learned specific details of Italian geography, and knowledge of Italian plays that had yet to be translated into English; Will somehow learned royal pursuits such as falconry so well that he could have one of his characters analogize the trouble in his love life to the challenges a falconer faces. We Oxfordians don't need somehow, except to explain gaps in Oxford's biography no larger than the ones that Stratfordians accept with religious fervor for their candidate.

    And now, should you choose, your last word. . .
  214. @Steve Sailer
    I was trying to look up on the Internet information about a funny morning DJ named Dick Whittington who was a meteoric star on Los Angeles radio in about 1968-1973. I found a bunch of references to him of the "Whatever happened to?" and "Remember when he invaded Catalina so America could win a war?" variety. (I wouldn't be completely surprised if it turned out that Ronald Reagan's invasion of Grenada could be traced back to Reagan listening to Whittington invade Catalina.)

    Here's a 2011 email interview in which he sounds still alive and funny:

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/morning-314864-radio-whittington.html

    But I didn't find any recordings of Whittington's morning show. Nobody bothered preserving them and/or there's no market for them and/or there are legal issues.

    I suspect playwrights were seen in 1600 like funny morning DJs were seen in 1970s: as celebrities, but whose work is ephemeral.

    In "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," the entire culture of 2600 AD is based on the albums of Bill and Ted's metal band Wild Stallyns. Probably to Shakespeare's contemporaries, the idea that Shakespeare would be the base of literary culture 400 years later would seem as funny as the joke in Bill and Ted.

    Steve, I have more respect for you than mere words can express, but: No Dick Wittington tapes survive, so it’s understandable that nothing in Will’s hand survives but six shaky signatures? Oy! Almost no Johnny Carson Tonight Show tapes from the New York City era survive, either. That’s a stronger argument than your Dick Wittington one. Your welcome!

    You have a lacuna in your thinking that is exposed by this topic [No, I shouldn’t say that. Leave the ad hominim for the Stratfordians].

    Also, please conduct a Shakespeare authorship debate at least once a year. They’re fun.

    Richard, you seem like a good guy; you don’t have the sarcastic, dismissive attitude of the typical Stratfordian debater. You didn’t even mock me for my typos! This thread is about 15 post ago in iSteve real time. So I’ll let you you get in the last word, after I make my last point, which is this:

    You say: Poets had patrons, so what’s the big deal? Will, at the outset of his career, somehow roped in Southampton as his patron. “Somehow” is the critical part of your argument, the one I think you hope skeptics ignore. You have to assume not only that he had a patron, but that the patron was Southampton. What a coincidence, you therefore must contend! The sonnets urge a young man to wed, at a time when De Vere was hoping that Southampton would wed his daughter. But Will somehow got Southampton to be his patron, and that’s enough for you.

    You need these suppositions: Will somehow learned esoteric legal terms that a boy from Stratford would never encounter; Will somehow learned specific details of Italian geography, and knowledge of Italian plays that had yet to be translated into English; Will somehow learned royal pursuits such as falconry so well that he could have one of his characters analogize the trouble in his love life to the challenges a falconer faces. We Oxfordians don’t need somehow, except to explain gaps in Oxford’s biography no larger than the ones that Stratfordians accept with religious fervor for their candidate.

    And now, should you choose, your last word. . .

    • Replies: @Richard

    “Somehow” is the critical part of your argument, the one I think you hope skeptics ignore. You have to assume not only that he had a patron, but that the patron was Southampton. What a coincidence, you therefore must contend! The sonnets urge a young man to wed, at a time when De Vere was hoping that Southampton would wed his daughter. But Will somehow got Southampton to be his patron, and that’s enough for you.
     
    It's not an assumption that Southampton was his patron, it's a fact that can be demonstrated. I don't see any "coincidence" here either; things are what they are. We don't know how any of these poets met their patrons, normally. Nobody bothered to write that stuff down. As I mentioned, Christopher Marlowe had several known patrons, but it's unknown how exactly he entered their circle of acquaintances. That doesn't say anything about the authorship of Marlowe's plays. Shakespeare didn't need to be De Vere to look favorably on the idea of Southampton getting married, and the lack of any mention in the Sonnets of "my daughter" as the object of the Young Man's marriage is weird if the scenario you sketch out is true.

    A lot of what anti-Stratfordians claim about Shakespeare's knowledge of arcana doesn't pan out, but even if true it doesn't add up to a real argument against Shakespeare's authorship. Shakespeare's land and business deals show he was no stranger to the law, and there were people in London who knew Italian like John Florio who could have exposed him to anything obscure. You don't need to travel somewhere (or study law) to get accurate information about it if you have friends or read books, and actually Ben Jonson mocked Shakespeare for his poor knowledge of geography ("seacoast in Bohemia").

    Oxford died in 1604 and "The Tempest" and "Henry VIII" were demonstrably written after that; there is no equivalence here between that gap and this or that unknown detail of Shakespeare's biography. But anti-Stratfordians make these false equivalences all the time. Thus the lack of any MSS of the Shakespearean plays in Shakespeare's handwriting is supposed to be a big problem for "Stratfordians" (even though hardly any playwrights have preserved MSS of plays in their own handwriting), but the lack of surviving Shakespearean play MSS in Oxford's handwriting isn't held against Oxford.

    The real problem for you Oxfordians is that there is not one shred of supporting evidence for your case. I mean real evidence, such as someone saying "Shakespeare doesn't actually write those plays, he's just a front for the true author, the Earl of Oxford." Nobody said that during Oxford's lifetime. Nobody said that during Shakespeare's lifetime. Nobody said that during the 17th century. Nobody said that during the 18th century. Nobody said that for generations and generations, until an eccentric named Delia Bacon finally wrote a book in the 1850s alleging a convoluted conspiracy to hide the true author of Shakespeare's plays ..... only she named a different guy, Sir Francis Bacon. And that's how it goes. Anti-Stratfordians cannot agree on an alternative author because none of this is based on any actual evidence, only suppositions, and different people make different ones. Hence Bacon, Oxford, Marlowe, and whoever else (there've been many). You need these suppositions because the facts all point elsewhere.
  215. @Richard
    Most poets knew patrons; it was in their line of work to hobnob with them. Christopher Marlowe, a cobbler's son from Canterbury, knew the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Strange and Sir Walter Ralegh, as well as hotshot scientists of the day like Thomas Hariot and Walter Warner. You again show no sense of context.

    See my reply to Steve, supra.

  216. @I, Libertine
    Steve, I have more respect for you than mere words can express, but: No Dick Wittington tapes survive, so it's understandable that nothing in Will's hand survives but six shaky signatures? Oy! Almost no Johnny Carson Tonight Show tapes from the New York City era survive, either. That's a stronger argument than your Dick Wittington one. Your welcome!

    You have a lacuna in your thinking that is exposed by this topic [No, I shouldn't say that. Leave the ad hominim for the Stratfordians].

    Also, please conduct a Shakespeare authorship debate at least once a year. They're fun.

    Richard, you seem like a good guy; you don't have the sarcastic, dismissive attitude of the typical Stratfordian debater. You didn't even mock me for my typos! This thread is about 15 post ago in iSteve real time. So I'll let you you get in the last word, after I make my last point, which is this:

    You say: Poets had patrons, so what's the big deal? Will, at the outset of his career, somehow roped in Southampton as his patron. "Somehow" is the critical part of your argument, the one I think you hope skeptics ignore. You have to assume not only that he had a patron, but that the patron was Southampton. What a coincidence, you therefore must contend! The sonnets urge a young man to wed, at a time when De Vere was hoping that Southampton would wed his daughter. But Will somehow got Southampton to be his patron, and that's enough for you.

    You need these suppositions: Will somehow learned esoteric legal terms that a boy from Stratford would never encounter; Will somehow learned specific details of Italian geography, and knowledge of Italian plays that had yet to be translated into English; Will somehow learned royal pursuits such as falconry so well that he could have one of his characters analogize the trouble in his love life to the challenges a falconer faces. We Oxfordians don't need somehow, except to explain gaps in Oxford's biography no larger than the ones that Stratfordians accept with religious fervor for their candidate.

    And now, should you choose, your last word. . .

    “Somehow” is the critical part of your argument, the one I think you hope skeptics ignore. You have to assume not only that he had a patron, but that the patron was Southampton. What a coincidence, you therefore must contend! The sonnets urge a young man to wed, at a time when De Vere was hoping that Southampton would wed his daughter. But Will somehow got Southampton to be his patron, and that’s enough for you.

    It’s not an assumption that Southampton was his patron, it’s a fact that can be demonstrated. I don’t see any “coincidence” here either; things are what they are. We don’t know how any of these poets met their patrons, normally. Nobody bothered to write that stuff down. As I mentioned, Christopher Marlowe had several known patrons, but it’s unknown how exactly he entered their circle of acquaintances. That doesn’t say anything about the authorship of Marlowe’s plays. Shakespeare didn’t need to be De Vere to look favorably on the idea of Southampton getting married, and the lack of any mention in the Sonnets of “my daughter” as the object of the Young Man’s marriage is weird if the scenario you sketch out is true.

    A lot of what anti-Stratfordians claim about Shakespeare’s knowledge of arcana doesn’t pan out, but even if true it doesn’t add up to a real argument against Shakespeare’s authorship. Shakespeare’s land and business deals show he was no stranger to the law, and there were people in London who knew Italian like John Florio who could have exposed him to anything obscure. You don’t need to travel somewhere (or study law) to get accurate information about it if you have friends or read books, and actually Ben Jonson mocked Shakespeare for his poor knowledge of geography (“seacoast in Bohemia”).

    Oxford died in 1604 and “The Tempest” and “Henry VIII” were demonstrably written after that; there is no equivalence here between that gap and this or that unknown detail of Shakespeare’s biography. But anti-Stratfordians make these false equivalences all the time. Thus the lack of any MSS of the Shakespearean plays in Shakespeare’s handwriting is supposed to be a big problem for “Stratfordians” (even though hardly any playwrights have preserved MSS of plays in their own handwriting), but the lack of surviving Shakespearean play MSS in Oxford’s handwriting isn’t held against Oxford.

    The real problem for you Oxfordians is that there is not one shred of supporting evidence for your case. I mean real evidence, such as someone saying “Shakespeare doesn’t actually write those plays, he’s just a front for the true author, the Earl of Oxford.” Nobody said that during Oxford’s lifetime. Nobody said that during Shakespeare’s lifetime. Nobody said that during the 17th century. Nobody said that during the 18th century. Nobody said that for generations and generations, until an eccentric named Delia Bacon finally wrote a book in the 1850s alleging a convoluted conspiracy to hide the true author of Shakespeare’s plays ….. only she named a different guy, Sir Francis Bacon. And that’s how it goes. Anti-Stratfordians cannot agree on an alternative author because none of this is based on any actual evidence, only suppositions, and different people make different ones. Hence Bacon, Oxford, Marlowe, and whoever else (there’ve been many). You need these suppositions because the facts all point elsewhere.

  217. @Anonymous
    I don't know anything Bechdel, but it seems pretty obvious that the test stuff isn't about what people talk about going about their boring everyday lives, but about female characters in plot-filled works of fiction getting to do and talk about some of the interesting stuff relevant to that plot (instead of being The Girlfriend and just worrying about male characters in the absence of a plot of their own). You can disagree with proponents of the test without being obtuse about it.

    But it’s not enough if one of the three main protagonists is a female who is actively involved in solving the problem. It’s not even enough if one of the two main protagonists is a female blah blah blah. Because if the other one is (or other two are) male, then it fails the Bechdel test.

    The woman and the black guy in the New Star Wars talk to each other: it means nothing. It would only mean something if there was a second woman with whom the heroine could talk to about the problems. So the new Star Wars probably fails the Bechdel test, and it would fail a similar test with regards to blacks: two blacks talking to each other, and not about a white guy, or something. Now you might notice that the new Star Wars was a big piece of pro-feminist and pro-black propaganda. If it still fails the Bechdel test, then there might be a problem with the test itself.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to All Steve Sailer Comments via RSS
PastClassics
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
Our Reigning Political Puppets, Dancing to Invisible Strings