Der Tagesspiegel reviews Kreiler

Robert Detobel reports that yet another major German publication, Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel (Daily Mirror) with a readership of over 148,000, has reviewed Kurt Kreiler’s biography of Edward De Vere, Der Mann der Shakespeare erfand (The Man who Invented Shakespeare). The review appeared on the Culture page and was tipped on the front page. The following translation by Detobel eliminates 4-5 paragraphs of the original article.

Der Tagesspiegel (The Daily Mirror): “The Secret of the Genius
Shakespeare was not Shakespeare. Kurt Kreiler, researcher (Cologne) set to definitely prove it.”

By Peter von Becker
(original in German, partial English translation by Robert Detobel)

The word goes that since God no one has created more than William Shakespeare. We have 36 dramas, two epic poems and 14 sonnets, printed since 1593 under the author name “Shake-speare” or “Shakespeare”; in most cases the plays were staged in revised versions in London theatres. But who actually wrote them? Along with the Theory of Everything searched for by Einstein and other physicists, the Shakespeare authorship is one of the unsolved great mysteries of human history.

The quest is for the creative mind of those plays and poems with their innumerable references, allusions to and adaptations from ancient and medieval mythology und Bible, from Greek, Latin, French, Italian sources, encompassing a universe extending from king to beggar and from England to Asia Minor, full of philosophical, political, historical, legal, religious and scientifical knowledge. And the whole with a plethora of inventions and an immense vocabulary never matched again in English literature or in any other literature in the world.

William Shakspere (without “e” in the middle and without a second “a”), born 1564 and died 1616 in Stratford-upon-Avon, was the son of an illiterate glover, attend a grammar school at best for a few years, later muddled through as a bit-part actor, came to riches under circumstances never fully clarified and became a playhouse shareholder. Documents at least tells us he was a penny-pinching trader and moneylender. Still on his deathbed the “myriad-minded man ” proved a Mister Scrooge, who bequeathed to his wife his second-best bed and seems to have possessed no books, not even his own works.

Knowledge of foreign languages, of literature and arts were great trumps of standing at the court of Elizabeth I, . . .. At this court Edward de Vere (1550-1604) was one of the most brilliant players. Based on his own translations of de Vere’s poems and an early novel, Kreiler proves the poetic talent of his “Man who Invented Shakespeare” in a manner that must convince even an orthodox defender of the traditional Shakespeare.

Also incontestable is that though at Elizabeth I’s court it was perfectly compatible with the rank of a member of the aristocracy to write poems and dramas, to read and to circulate the former and to stage the latter, but not to put them in print and to take money for them. An author who lived of his pen could only be a commoner like, for instance, Christopher Marlowe, John Webster or, at times, Francis Bacon; each of them, however, must be discarded on different grounds. De Vere, on the contrary, would be compelled to adopt a pseudonym if he chose not to break off his brilliant literary beginnings and to publish them.

The insignificant player Shakspere, perhaps not unknown to the Earl with his keen interest in the theatre, could therefore have been the front the aristocrat needed. However comprehensive Kreiler’s book, it contains no direct evidence for this relationship: no written agreement or a verifiable reverse transaction. The argumentation is carried on by numerous logical, matter-of-fact and philological elimination processes. So the impressively documented travels of de Vere in France and Italy (1575-76) result in new circumstantial evidence, for instance, among others, a statue at the Rialto bridge or a remote anecdote about the Gonzagas, the Dukes of Mantua, information without which certain passages in The Merchant of Venice and Hamlet could impossibly have been written.

As a fairly probable consequence, Mister Shakspere of Stratford, who hardly knew a single Italian or French word and obviously never strayed farther than London or southern England, is put out of the running.

Despite some minor qualifications the hitherto dominating British Shakespeare research, a cultic industry which defends the “Sweet Swan of Avon” as a national sanctuary, will hardly be able in the future to ignore Kreiler’s grand study. For the name “William Shakespeare” obviously also carries the intentional “Will I am” and that spear of the poet-goddess Pallas Athena, which de Vere was to use as the symbolic “shake-speare” of the “spear-shaker”. The ultimate question remains how the mystification of a millenarian genius, already recognized as such in his lifetime, could, in spite of copyists, aids and abettors, confidants could remain such a best kept secret?

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  • Aanel  On November 27, 2009 at 12:23 PM

    You’ve misspelled Kreiler’s book in this article as well. The verb is “erfand” not “erfund”. I recommend correcting this so anyone searching for the book will be able to find it.

  • Linda Theil  On November 27, 2009 at 12:36 PM

    Thanks very much for taking the time to make this important correction.

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