Daily Archives: August 7, 2009

Anderson’s “Wrath of Kahn”

Shakespeare by Another Name author Mark Anderson takes on yet another ill-prepared Stratfordian apologist who feels he must deny Justice John Paul Steven’s ability to make a reasoned decision on the authorship issue. Pseudo-wisdom this time comes from Courthouse News Service’s Robert Kahn writing “Bill of Goods”.

Anderson has agreed to share his insight with readers of the SOS blog. You can read his post, “Order in the Courthouse: The Wrath of Kahn”, here and at his “Shakespeare by Another Name” blog at: http://shakespearebyanothername.blogspot.com.

Anderson writes:

The legal newswire syndicate Courthouse News Service today ran a column taking on the Oxfordians and“Shakespeare” By Another Name in particular. And while I try to resist the temptation of answering critics at every turn, this particular columnist — Robert Kahn — cranked out some factually dubious and just-plain-untrue statements that deserved some kind of recognition.

Kahn leads off his opening argumentwith the remark that “[Oxfordian] U.S. Supreme Court Justice… John Paul Stevens doesn’t know Shakespeare from a goose.

Attempting to correct the record, Kahn goes on to goose up some of his own Shakespearean claims. “We know that Shakespeare acted in Macbeth before King James II [sic],” Kahn says. (There actually are no records of any performance of Macbeth for the first King James. A restoration version of the Scots play may have been performed for James II, but unless Kahn’s Bard was also a vampire, it’s unlikely that the 123-year-old Stratford actor would have been doing much when the restoration Macbeth treaded the boards c. 1687.)

We also know, Kahn says, “that someone knocked out ‘the Scottish play’ in a few weeks especially for the new king, who liked ghost stories.”

Um… nice try. James I may have liked ghost stories, but the other bit about the Scots play isn’t true either.

A few potshots ensue about SBAN and the “dreck” of de Vere’s early song lyrics. (I’d be curious to know if the columnist has read any great authors’ juvenilia, such as the Bronte sisters’ none-too-soaring early works.)

But then come Kahn’s two real howlers. First that Mark Twain only believed that “someone else wrote Shakespeare — who also happened to be named William Shakespeare.” (Yours truly, Kahn says, “cheats” by supposedly falsely stating that Twain was an anti-Stratfordian.)

Again: Wow. Kahn is just plain wrong. He seems to be a witty guy who might enjoy a good read. Mark Twain’s 1909 anti-Stratfordian opus Is Shakespeare Dead? comes highly recommended.

Last but not least, Kahn states that SBAN is itself fundamentally flawed, because, “The notion that the man who may have been the greatest creative genius the world has ever known would spend his old age rewriting his old plays over and over, after they already had been acted, is psychologically ridiculous.”

“A creative genius,” he says, “does not spend his old age polishing up stuff he wrote as a pup.”

By way of counter-example, one might point the wayward jurist in the direction of a man who in fact did just that. Many consider the man to be a “creative genius.” Some, in fact, consider the man to be the closest America has ever come to our own Shakespeare.

Whatever the case, this “creative genius” did spend several decades revising and re-revising his own masterwork.

His name was Walt Whitman.

And bonus round, Mr. Kahn: Whitman was an anti-Stratfordian too.