Urs Jenny in Der Spiegel

German Oxfordian researcher Robert Detobel summarizes Urs Jenny’s article, Der Dichter und Sein Doppelganger (The Poet and his Doppelganger) published this week in Der Spiegel (The Mirror) on the topic of Kurt Kreiler’s German-language biography of Edward de Vere – Der Mann der Shakespeare erfand (The Man who Invented Shakespeare):

Urs Jenny’s Article in Der Spiegel No 47/16-11-09 starts with three paragraphs on known facts of the life of William Shakespeare.

The fourth paragraph opens: “He that tries to get an idea of one of the greatest poets of world history, is struck with bewilderment when looking into his life’s legacy, the testament of a narrow-minded scrape-penny. Nothing outside the truly overwhelming work allows for a glimpse of the poet’s personality.”

Then Jenny asks: “Or was the poet somebody else?” “The soundest reason to believe in the genius of the man of Stratford is that for some hundred years nobody has doubted it. But at latest in the  middle of the nineteenth century the efforts to undelve his biography led to a certain helplessness.”

Then the author returns to the life of the man of Stratford and asks, “Which miracle turned, within a few years, of which nothing is known, (him) into a dramatist of incomparable eloquence?”. To exclaim with more than a pinch of irony, “The answer can only be: The genius is incommensurable, the genius is a singularity.”

To add a little more irony of my own: this is almost what Gabriel Harvey said of Edward de Vere, “a passing singular odd man”. So, if one is not contented by this answer, one has to look elsewhere. The step which suggests itself is to look for a courtier with pronounced liteary interests.

Jenny then exposes the arguments in favour of Edward de Vere. Jenny also thinks that Kreiler’s argument about the date of composition of the Italian plays is a strong one, placing them before the anti-Italian affect which would have become predominating at court after the Spanish invasion.

Jenny has certainly been won over by Kreiler’s book. He concludes his article with some reservations (rather diplomatically, it seems to me). He asks whether Edward de Vere, “a intensely passionate and talented man” could have had so little aristocratic pride as to remain hidden forever behind a commoner’s pseudonym. I myself would have asked “so much aristocratic pride”.

Finally, the closing paragraph: “The debate will go on. Maybe this is the secret of the self-made man Shakespeare from the province: precisely because we know nothing of him, the man of Stratford can be thought of as being capable of anything.”

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