Skip to main content

The Chronicle of Higher Education today featured an article reporting on the claim by two rare-book dealers to have unearthed a dictionary, some 530 years old, that once belonged to a certain acclaimed author (http://chronicle.com/...)  

Although the article will doubtless see life as a filler in various newspaper columns and click-through chatter sites, one can't but help feel that the real story has been missed.

As we don't know whether 'Shaksper', the merchant of Stratford, could even read (although we already do know that his daughter couldn't), let alone there being no proof that the merchant ever even owned a book, it would seem a pretty strong probability that this text, or at least said notations within, aren't his.

However, if the claim is that it belonged to the man who wrote under the name of 'Shakespeare', to whom much brouhaha and laud has since (mainly rightly) been attached, then I'd suggest a check against Marlowe's hand to be in order - a far more likely candidate for authorship than the merchant ever was.

(Of course, the Shakespeare industry being the Monsanto of British literature, don't be surprised if that's a possibility of which you haven't heard)

Sad that the article, in an otherwise genuine attempt at inocuous intrigue, continues the conflation of two such disparate strands.

Poll

Who really was the author known as Shakespeare ?

47%11 votes
8%2 votes
13%3 votes
30%7 votes

| 23 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Here's a question (12+ / 0-)

    Does positing that Wmshakespeare didn't write Shakespeare constitute CT under the Kos guidelines?

    As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

    by BPARTR on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 05:09:47 PM PDT

  •  Marlowe (11+ / 0-)

    couldn't hold a candle to Shakespeare.  Sorry but this Ct about who was the real Shakespeare is bs.

    "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

    by Steven D on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 05:10:40 PM PDT

  •  So things like this will finally make sense... (5+ / 0-)

    O happy dagger[1] / This is thy sheath[2]

    ;)

  •  marlowe (15+ / 0-)

    when i was a teenager i decided to read all the great world literature i could. i went to the library and wrote down all the great greek writers beginning with homer, then hesiod, herodotus, the playwrights (aeschylus, sophocles,erc.) and so on through the later greeks. then i went to the romans and then to the middle ages (in my time we didn't know much about eastern and other classics like the ramayana or the tale of genji, etc. which i didn't discover till years later).
    All of this was in translation of course, along with the norse eddas, the french and german medieval romances of knighthood and old english classics like beowulf.
    finally i got to chaucer and middle english, which wasn't that hard to understand, even in the 20th century. when reading english one becomes aware of the great stylistic differences between, say, chaucer and the author of piers plowman or the gawain legend. you begin to see how thomas browne uses the language or wyatt or skelton, two fine early poets. if you've got an ear and a sense of rhythm, if you've got a taste for characterization and point of view, these writers are very easy to tell apart.
    so, in time, i got to the late 16th century, reading spenser's faerie queen, and the playwrights, peele and kyd, etc. again, the differences in approach, in word choice, in humor, in interests, in everything, were not hard to see, if you had an open mind and a good ear.
    i was very impressed with marlowe. i read edward the second, the jew of malta and dr. faustus; also both parts of tamerlane (not sure abt. the spelling here). marlowe has a bold, even florid style, a good iambic pentameter, if a little rigid and sing song , a word choice that includes a lot of celestial imagery - he's big on sky and star and sun, etc. he's got an heroic view of man's fate, both as hero and as victim. he's a very good playwright in those plays.
    but compared to shakespeare in his early plays, the ones that came out while marlowe was alive (he died in 1594, possibly assassinated as a spy). the comedy of errors, the richard plays II and III, love's labor lost and a midsummer's night's dream (along with titus and the henry trilogy) there is no comparison.
    from the beginning shakespeare's imagery is much more varied with a greater dregree of earthy images; shakespeare knows women (there are virtually no women in marlowe), shakespeare has a sense of humor
    and is a master of numerous rhythmic and sound effects that never appear in marlowe. you only need a brain and an ear to see and hear all this.
    the snobbery that has shakespeare being too ignorant to have written the plays (along with marlowe candidates have includes edward de vere, a lord, sir francis bacon, a fine prose stylist and scientist, but very different from shakespeare) and even queen elizabeth I) are only because people won't admit that his genius, like dante or bach or mozart, is so special that it's just as unlikely a queen or a lord could do it as a rural boy who we know came to london and acted and was a part owner of his theatrical company as well as writing the plays). because the snobs think genius can 't belong to such a low born figure ( boy, what these people would have made of einstein's lousy grades in school, if he was born then).
    the marlowe people have to concoct a silly story about marlowe - again, a very different writer in most ways) that he didn't die, went into hiding and was the secret author of the plays for the next twenty years. and ben jonson's poem praising shakespeare is a coverup too.
    it's snobbery and silliness and i really wonder what great love of the greatest poetic dramatist of any age, the most incisive psychologist, one of the funniest of playwrights and the one one put strong, intelligent women front and center so often, what real love these people have for the work rather than the "controversy."
    use your ears, your bodily rhythm, your open-hearted appreciation of a cast of characters that even in marlowe's lifetime he wasn't capable of, and stop being a 500 years out of date troll.

    •  In all of that... (4+ / 0-)

      Don't forget to watch the movie Shakespeare in Love.  Many "inside" jokes in the historical fiction that is the movie, as well as factual details, like the names of the others who owned theatres, the setting is the year Marlowe was killed and that's covered in the dialogue (attention to little factual details were not lost on me, even though the movie is a work of fiction - but I do appreciate good historical fiction).

      As for why there are so few female roles in Shakespeare, Marlowe, et alia - except for the cross-dressers in the comedies - it all hangs on one simple fact: women were not allowed to be actors, so all the women's parts were played by boys/men.

      In the comedies this is screamingly funny, especially when there is a young man/boy playing a girl dressed as a boy who's revealed as a girl somewhere in the play and there are lots of double entendres (some quite bawdy).  Of course, the audience was in on the joke because they knew the female parts were played by boys/young men.

      As an English major and as a person who'd already had some 25 years of reading a whole lot of Tudor history, especially Queen Elizabeth I, by the time I entered college at age 41, I took a course on Shakespeare where we had an excellent prof who could go off on detours of all the miscellaneous historical info for the time period..., then come back to the point of the lecture which was how reality influenced the author, therefore the dialogue in the plays, etc.

      It's quite interesting if you love both literature and history and add in the music and art for any given era so all the influences are "layered" into a whole.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 07:41:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, that's not what (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NonnyO

        hang together wrote: their point was that Shakespeare wrote a LOT of roles for women. (Yes, a lot of them cross-dressed, but that was in the comedies: ergo for comic effect.)

        Shakespeare understood women. hang together's point was that Marlowe wrote few female roles and didn't seem to understand us.

        English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

        by Youffraita on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 08:21:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  :-) Point taken - (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sharon Wraight, niemann

          Thanks for the fuller explanation.  I love the movie Shakespeare in Love so much I get very enthusiastic about it and forget to include additional info.

          Still, the female roles from English Renaissance plays are much better understood when real women play the female parts - e.g. Glenn Close in Hamlet.  I think it's in the body language.  [Before Mel Gibson went off his nut in real life, he did play Hamlet well in the 1990 movie where Close played his mother, Queen Gertrude.  Certain famous people have some larger-than-life flaws that are some real doozies.]

          I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

          by NonnyO on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:31:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Paragraphs, and shorter paragraphs, would (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Youffraita

      be good.

      And capital letters starting sentences would make things easier to read.  You did type a number of them.

      But the overall post is excellent.

      Myself, I read most of the greatest literature too, before age 20, but not in chronological order as you claim.  I especially remember reading all of Dante one summer during breaks on my big ice cream truck route.

      I agree very strongly that Shakespeare was Shakespeare.

  •  Philip Marlowe wrote the plays. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calvino Partigiani, roberb7, whl

    Christopher Marlowe is a much more likely candidate than the Earl of Oxford.

    (Which isn't saying much.)

    The plays attributed to Shakepeare were most likely written by William Shakespeare, the man from Stratford who was an actor with other business interests, OR by a different man with the same name from the same town with the same occupation.  

    Patriotism is the FIRST refuge of the scoundrel.

    by Tony Seybert on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 06:17:10 PM PDT

  •  I changed one of your tags slightly (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, wildweasels, whl

    The monarch on the throne for most of Shakespeare's life was Queen Elizabeth I - not to be confused with the reigning monarch now, Queen Elizabeth II, or with any of the other Elizabeths who were wives of kings but never held the crown in their own right.  Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603, King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England, and Shakespeare died in 1616.

    William Shakespeare wrote the plays of William Shakespeare.

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 07:54:08 PM PDT

  •  You're claiming that Shakespeare couldn't read? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, wildweasels, whl

    What a bunch of CRAP!

    This stupid diary should be deleted.

  •  Oxford-leaner here. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight

    Speaking of Shakespeare's dictionary, one thing that intrigues me about Shakespeare's vocabulary is that a number of word-coinings and usages which the Oxford English Dictionary first attributes to "Shakespeare" are found in Edward de Vere's letters before they appeared in the works of Shakespeare.

    A sort-of-related fact that intrigues me:  Despite an exhaustive search through the Elizabethan literature, only two writers of the time are known to have had the near-blasphemous gall to quote God's revelation of himself --

    "I am that I am"

    -- in relation to themselves:

    Shakespeare, in an angry, defiant sonnet basically giving the finger to people who were apparently judging and criticizing him ...

    ... and Edward de Vere, in an angry defiant letter to Lord Burghley (his father-in-law), basically giving the finger to people who were judging and criticizing him.

    (Lord Burghley, by the way, having been recognized for over a century as the model for Polonius ... until traditional scholars realized that fact stands in support of the Oxfordian attribution and against their own, at which point they started back-pedalling furiously.)

  •  It's been more than a decade, maybe two, since I (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    i saw an old tree today, niemann

    did much reading about the authorship debate, just a fun diversion from other things.

    I had an opinion on it then, just speculation for fun. But I'm sure the debate has advanced in that time (even if in various directions), so I'm not piping up unless I do some catchup reading. :-)

    ("Coadjuvant," good word! ;-) )

  •  Blithering batkrap (0+ / 0-)

    The de Vere, Oxford, nonsense is doa because the 17th Earl of Oxford was dead on arrival in 1604, and he'd been horribly disabled in 1582 by Sir Thomas Knyvet in sword attacks sometime in March, again on June 18, and finally on June 24. The 17th Earl of Oxford was a house bound invalid following the 1582 injuries.

    Many of Shakespeare's plays and most of the sonnets were written after de Vere died. The Tempest dates from 1610-11 and contains temporal references that would be unknown to a dead man; i.e., the play could not have been written prior to 1604 and then produced as well as published at a later date.

    Ben Jonson put it right:
     

      I, therefore will begin. Soule of the Age !
     The applause ! delight ! the wonder of our Stage !
     My Shakespeare, rise; I will not lodge thee by
     Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lye
     A little further, to make thee a roome :
     Thou art a Moniment, without a tombe,
     And art alive still, while thy Booke doth live,
     And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
    Why any fools would put the lie to Ben Jonson is beyond belief.

    We're all just working for Pharaoh.

    by whl on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 11:08:03 AM PDT

    •  Thoughts ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharon Wraight
      The 17th Earl of Oxford was a house bound invalid following the 1582 injuries.
      Well, in the sonnets Shakespeare does refer to himself several times as "lame".
      Many of Shakespeare's plays and most of the sonnets were written after de Vere died.
      You state this as a fact.  We don't know that.  The dating of Shakespeare’s plays is a difficult business, and even among traditional scholars there is little agreement.

      Dates of composition are not known; only dates of publication and staging. The two things are very different.  The chronology traditional scholars argue from is founded on their belief that the Stratfordian was the author in the first place. Taking that assumption as their base, they spread conjectural composition dates throughout his life span -- and then consider it proven that the author must have written up until the year of his death, 1616.  In other words ... circular reasoning.

      (They also fail to consider that their rationale for excluding Oxford would also exclude their own man as the author.  A third of the plays first appear in the records only years after his own death.)

      In addition, there is an interesting pattern in the publication history of the Shakespeare plays: In the nine years previous to 1603, seventeen Shakespeare plays were published -- an average of almost two a year. Five of these were reported on the title pages to have been edited by the author. (Among these are the standard “perfect” versions of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet.)

      After 1603, however, only two new Shakespeare plays appeared over the next nineteen years ... until the publication of the First Folio in 1623.

      Why was there such a sudden dropoff in publication after 1603, especially if William of Stratford was still going about business as usual, as scholars claim?  If his scripts were considered the property of theater companies, as we are told, why were they not sold to publishers to raise extra money for the companies, as we are assured was the usual practice? (And why, especially, not during the financially tight years of the public theater closings when the companies would have desperately needed the cash?)

      Clearly something drastic changed around 1603.  What was it?  The Oxfordian answer:  The author died.

      Even though the Folio contains 18 previously unpublished Shakespeare plays, those plays are not recorded as having been staged in the intervening years. If the Stratfordian was still writing and at the height of his artistry for a full ten years after 1603, as the story goes, why were his plays not performed or published?  Traditional scholars have no answers for these logical questions, and, indeed, act as if they do not even merit consideration.

      •  Follow up ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sharon Wraight
        The 17th Earl of Oxford was a house bound invalid following the 1582 injuries.
        Well, in the sonnets Shakespeare does refer to himself several times as "lame".
        Just thought I'd add ... Edward de Vere used the very same word -- "lame" -- to refer to himself in his letters.

        And in Sonnet 66 -- "Tired with all these for restful death I cry" -- Shakespeare, sounding very depressed, lists all the things in the world that he's sick of.  One of them ...

        "And strength by limping sway disabled"
    •  Also ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharon Wraight
      The Tempest dates from 1610-11 and contains temporal references that would be unknown to a dead man; i.e., the play could not have been written prior to 1604 and then produced as well as published at a later date.
      The Tempest is always asserted as a "trump card" and is based on the report of a shipwreck written after 1609 by William Strachey.  However, as Roger Stritmatter and Lynne Kositsky have demonstrated -- and as has been grudgingly acknowledged even by some traditional scholars -- Strachey was the Rand Paul of his day -- a serial plagiarist.  They show this with other of his writings, and also show that his shipwreck description was copied from books dating from the early to mid-1500's. The Tempest seems to refer to the same books, and even expands on the references to them, including details Strachey didn't include.

      They also show that Strachey's report was very probably not even finished until after the first recorded 1611 performance of The Tempest, and it definitely wasn't published until later.  (As is usual with the problem of how Shakespeare could have read things that hadn't yet been published ... "He must have seen it in manuscript."  Somehow.)

      Also, The Tempest is remarkably similar to a German play by an author who died in 1605.

      From The Tempest. Ed. William Allan Neilson. New York: Scott, Foresman and company.

      One is a German play by Jacob Ayrer of Nuremberg, who died in 1605. His Fair Sidea was not printed till 1618, so that Shakespeare could only have known of it by report, such a report as might be brought over by the English players who visited Nuremberg in 1604 and 1606. In both The Fair Sidea and The Tempest we have "a prince given to magic, and driven into exile with a daughter who marries the son of his enemy; an attendant spirit; and - most striking of all - the imposition of log-carrying upon the captive prince, and the fixing of his sword in his scabbard."

      As usual, to get around all the inconvenient things Shakespeare couldn't have read or seen himself, he again managed to get all his knowledge at what has been called the "Mermaid Tavern University" -- sitting and talking to travelers over a beer.

      Also, in 1605's Eastward Ho!, in which the authors (Jonson, Chapman, Marston) are acknowledged to parody Hamlet, Richard III, and other Shakespeare plays, there is a lampoon of a shipwreck on the Thames landing the survivors on an island.

      I suppose they managed this in the same way a traditional scholar explained that Jonson managed to parody Othello before Othello was supposedly written:  He "anticipated" it.

      So, no, the dating of The Tempest is not quite the closed-case tradition claims.

       I, therefore will begin. Soule of the Age !
       The applause ! delight ! the wonder of our Stage !
       My Shakespeare, rise; I will not lodge thee by
       Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lye
       A little further, to make thee a roome :
       Thou art a Moniment, without a tombe,
       And art alive still, while thy Booke doth live,
       And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
      Why any fools would put the lie to Ben Jonson is beyond belief.
      Jonson scholars have actually acknowledged that this dedication and praise of Shakespeare is unlike any of Jonson's other such poems.  One Jonson scholar even said, without realising the implications:
      Because he can assume intimacy and equality when writing to artists but not when addressing the aristocracy, Jonson uses different conventions in the two situations.  Only in the poem for Shakespeare does he combine the two methods. [my emphasis here]

      Sara van den Berg

      As for the poem you quote ... The second edition of his sonnets, published in 1640, seems to mock the attempted attribution of the plays to the Stratfordian by parodying the Jonson tribute you quote.

      In the Folio Jonson wrote of the portrait engraving of “Shakespeare”: “This figure ... was for gentle Shakespeare cut.” (Note the odd wording: This figure was for Shakespeare cut. And at that time the word “gentle” had the primary meaning “of noble birth.”)

      Jonson then trumpeted the Bard, as you quote, as “... Soul of the age!/ The applause! delight! the wonder of our stage!”

      The 1640 editor seems not to have bought this. He added a nobleman’s cloak and gloves to the Folio image of “Shakespeare” and then, beneath this altered portrait, included a question-mark-laden paraphrase of Jonson:

      “This shadow is renowned Shakespeare’s? Soul of the age/ The applause? delight? the wonder of the stage.”
      (Concerning the use of the word “shadow,” it is worth noting that one of Shakespeare's own favorite devices was contrasting a “shadow” -- that is, a false image -- with a “substance” -- reality.)

      Even in the 1590's and 1600's there seemed to be doubters of "Shakespeare's" identity.  Even as the plays were first appearing in print, various writers guessed that "Shakespeare" was really Samuel Daniel, Edward Dyer, and ... yes ... even Francis Bacon.

      Why any fools would put the lie to Ben Jonson is beyond belief.
      Well, those "fools" include David McCullough (the Pulitzer-winning historian);  several former Supreme Court Justices (liberal ones, by the way, I seem to recall!);  literary critic Clifton Fadiman;  John Gielgud;  Jeremy Irons;  Michael York;  Vanessa Redgrave;  Mark Rylance;  Tom Hanks;  Kenneth Branagh (in private); Patrick Stewart;  Orson Wells;  Tyrone Guthrie;  Mark Twain;  Charlie Chaplin;  Henry James ...  (Derek Jacobi says many professional Shakespearean actors doubt the traditional attribution, but keep it to themselves out of fear for negative effects on their careers.)

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site