Daily Archives: January 6, 2010

Psychology is literary destiny

Our fundamental understanding that psychology is deeply embedded in creative output is delightfully demonstrated in this vignette from Laurie King’s mystery novel A Letter of Mary. (Bantam paperback edition 1996, p. 105)

Scene: early twentieth century, an alfresco luncheon
Characters: Sherlock Holmes and narrator Mary Russell

I must have drifted off, because I was startled when Holmes spoke.

“Shall I abandon you here, Russell, in the arms of Nature’s soft nurse?”

I smiled and stretched deliciously on the rocky ground. Holmes caught the box and handed it back to me when I sat up.

“William Shakespeare must have been an insomniac,” I declared. “He has an overly affectionate fixation on sleep that borders on obsession. It can only have stemmed from privation,”

“A hungry man dreaming of food? You sound like the jargon-spouting neighbour of Sarah Chessman, with her traumatic experiences and neuroses.”

“Who better qualified than I for the spouting of psychological jargon?” I muttered.

Georgetown University psychiatry professor Richard M. Waugaman, MD, is no more a fan of jargon than Holmes; but, unlike Holmes, Waugaman finds the psychology of Shakespeare to be a deeply interesting pursuit. His recent article, “A Psychoanalytical Study of Edward de Vere’s The Tempest, was featured in the December 2009 edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry. In the abstract of his article Waugaman said:

There is now abundant evidence that Freud was correct in believing Edward de Vere (1550–1604) wrote under the pseudonym “William Shakespeare.” One common reaction is “What difference does it make?” I address that question by examining many significant connections between de Vere’s life and The Tempest. Such studies promise to bring our understanding of Shakespeare’s works back into line with our usual psychoanalytic approach to literature, which examines how a great writer’s imagination weaves a new creation out of the threads of his or her life experiences. . . . (JAAPDP 37:4 2009, 627-644)

Waugaman will share copies of his “. . . Tempest” article if readers will contact him at: <mailto:rwmd@comcast.net>.

In his 2007 article, “Unconscious communication in Shakespeare: ‘Et tu, Brute?’ echoes ‘Eloi, eloi lama sabachthani?'”, for the journal, Psychiatry, Waugaman offered this psychological insight:

The parallels between the dying words of Julius Caesar and of Jesus Christ offer us a window into Shakespeare’s creativity, specifically, his ingenuity in using unconscious channels of communication to stir the audience’s emotional responses. Scholars have noted many connections between the Bible and Shakespeare’s works, including Julius Caesar. To my knowledge, the echo noted in my subtitle has been partially acknowledged by only one previous commentator. 1 I will explore some possible meanings of this parallel in depth. Was Shakespeare deliberately echoing Christ’s dying words (“Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani?” meaning “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”) 2 When he had Caesar ask, “Et tu, Brute?” We do not know the answer to this question. Although I cannot assert that Shakespeare was conscious of this parallel, I will attempt to show at the very least that his unconscious creativity led him to choose words that resonate powerfully for a Biblically literate audience with Christ’s dying words. In the discussion that follows, I hope to make this possibility plausible for the reader. I hope this discussion will highlight and exemplify the central role that unconscious communication plays in a great work of art. (Psychiatry. 01/02/2007; 70(1):52-8)

Waugaman is one of 12 editors of the new journal of authorship studies, Brief Chronicles, as announced by Roger Stritmatter on his website, Shake-speare’s Bible. Waugaman has published extensively on the topic of Shakespeare. His article, “The Sternhold and Hopkins Whole Book of the Psalms is a Major Source for the Works of Shakespeare” appears in the December 2009 issue of Notes & Queries.

Richard M. Waugaman, MD
Selected bibliography of publications on Shakespeare


“Unconscious Communication and Literature,”  Psychiatry, 66: 214-221 (2003).

Unconscious Communication in Shakespeare: ‘Et tu, Brute?’ Echoes ‘Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabbachthani?’”  Psychiatry, 70:52-58 (2007).

“A Wanderlust Poem, Newly Attributed to Edward de Vere,” Shakespeare Matters 7(1):21-23 (2007).

“A Snail Poem, Newly Attributed to Edward de Vere,” Shakespeare Matters 7(2):6-11(2008).

“The Pseudonymous Author of Shakespeare’s Works”, on-line Princeton Alumni Weekly (March 19, 2008).

“Shakespeare’s Sonnet 6 and the First Marked Passage in de Vere’s Bible.” Shakespeare Matters (in press).

“Echoes of the ‘Lamed’ Section of Psalm 119 in Shakespeare’s Sonnets.” Shakespeare Matters (in press).

“The Bisexuality of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Implications for De Vere’s Authorship.” The Psychoanalytic Review (in press).

“A Psychoanalytic Study of Edward de Vere’s The Tempest”. J. Amer. Academy of Psychoanalysis (2009).

“The Psychology of Shakespeare Biography Scholarship.” Brief Chronicles: The Interdisciplinary Journal of the Shakespeare Fellowship (2009).

“The Sternhold and Hopkins Psalter is a Major Source for the Works of Shakespeare.” Notes & Queries (in press).

“Shakespeare’s Sonnet 80, Marlowe, and Hero and Leander. Shakespeare Matters (in press).

“A New Biblical Source for the Works of Shakespeare: The Sternhold and Hopkins Psalms.” Renaissance Studies (revised draft under review).

“Psalm Allusions in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 1.Notes & Queries (revised draft under review).

Book Reviews

Shakespeare by Another Name, by Mark Anderson. Psychoanalytic Quarterly 76: 1395-1403 (2007). Reprinted in Shakespeare Matters (2008).

Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature, by John Mullan. Shakespeare Matters 7(3): 10-14 (Spring, 2008).

Shakespeare the Thinker, by A.D. Nuttall. Shakespeare Matters 7(4): 8-11 (Fall, 2008).

The Mind According to Shakespeare: Psychoanalysis in the Bard’s Writings, by Marvin B. Krims. Psychoanalytic Quarterly 77: 1298-1305 (2008).

The Anonymous Renaissance, by Marcy North. Shakespeare Matters 8(3):20-26 (2009).

The Muse as Therapist: A New Poetic Paradigm for Psychotherapy, by Heward Wilkinson. Brief Chronicles: The Interdisciplinary Journal of the Shakespeare Fellowship. (2009).

Detobel translates Krippendorff comments

Our German correspondent Robert Detobel reports that after a hiatus in December, the reviews of Kurt Kreiler’s Oxford biography The Man who Invented Shakespeare have resumed with an article by Ekkehart Krippendorff in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, a newspaper with the widest coverage in Germany of almost half a million readers daily.

From the Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Tuesday, 5  January 2010
(Article not yet online; we’ll post the URL if it becomes available.)

“Who wrote William Shakespeare’s dramas? News from the opposition against Stratford: Kurt Kreiler’s biography of the Elizabethan aristocrat Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford”
By Ekkehart Krippendorff

Selections of Krippendorff’s article are translated below by Robert Detobel:

The plain title with which is announced a book on “Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford”,  a rather not so well known figure in this country, carries the notion, still provocative to a broad public, that William Shakespeare, praised as the greatest among the great poet-dramatists, is an “invention”, concealing another author, even that seventeenth Earl of Oxford. The meanwhile over three hundred fifty years old Stratfordian camp with its multi-million funded bardolatry reacts bitterly against this and other suspicions which have proved impossible to quell during about the last 150 years…

Unconcealed is the identity to Kurt Kreiler, the author of this remarkable biography…

Who was learned how?

No one doubts that this William Shakespeare (in different spellings) of Stratford-on-Avon has existed – birth and death certificates (1564-1616), business transactions in land and houses, his presence in the world of the London theatre, his marriage with a woman eight years older than he in Stratford with whom he had two surviving children, all this is documented beyond doubt. But that the son of a glover of humble rural origins and with a modest school education until the age of twelve would become a much performed and subsequently much printed poet and dramatist  in London, without a writing loving and gossipy sixteenth and seventeenth-century society with its numerous literary circles ever taking notice of this author, who has left us no authentic trace of a holograph, with his two illiterate daughters, who in his last will bequeathed his second-best bed to his wife but does not mention any rights in his works or any books he would have possessed, at whose death, contrary to that of many of his fellow-poets, no commemoration appeared, as if he had never existed – all this and much more (though much more is not known of him) makes the attribution of (at least) thirty-seven plays, the sonnets and the epic poems to him highly dubious…

Small wonder then that at some point in time his authorship was questioned. One of the first prominent doubters was Mark Twain…

How to explain that his first inquisitive biographer, who, less than a century after his death,  had systematically searched Stratford and vicinity for literary traces and oral witnesses had to be content with nothing else than the works…

In 1920 Thomas Looney identified Shakespeare as Edward de Vere. In 1923 in Germany, Sigmund Freud, a fervent reader of Shakespeare, on reading Looney’s book, became so convinced of Edward de Vere that even shortly before his death professed himself an “Oxfordian”, much to the chagrin of the Stratfordian camp…

Whoever Shakespeare was, the debate will not abate.

Brief Chronicles indexed by MLA-IB

Brief Chronicles Managing Editor Gary Goldstein reported that Brief Chronicles has been selected for indexing in the Modern Language Association International Bibliography and the World Shakespeare Bibliography.

“Selection for indexing by two international bibliographies in the humanities demonstrates the superb quality of scholarship already to be found in Brief Chronicles,” Goldstein said. “Since this selection comes immediately upon publication of our inaugural issue, it is clear we have met the high standard expected of the scholarly community on an international level.”

The peer review journal focussed on Shakespeare authoship was launched as a free online publication in November 2009 and will be published annually. The editorial board includes 12 academics from universities in the US, Canada, and England including scholars in theater, English, law, medicine, economics, history, theater and Shakespeare authorship.

Goldstein said:

The MLA International Bibliography is the most widely distributed humanities database, being the pre-eminent reference work in the fields of literature, language, linguistics, folklore, ethno-musicology, and teaching. The database is compiled by the staff of the MLA Office of Bibliographic
Information Services with the cooperation of more than 100 contributing bibliographers in the United States and abroad. The MLA International Bibliography annually indexes over 66,000 books and articles, lists over 1.5 million citations, and is available worldwide in print, CD-ROM and online at

The World Shakespeare Bibliography is sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., edited by Professor James Harner at Texas A&M University, and published by Johns Hopkins University Press. The online version is located at www.worldshakesbib.org.

The World Shakespeare Bibliography provides annotated entries for all important books, articles, book reviews, dissertations, theatrical productions, reviews of productions, audiovisual materials, electronic media, and other scholarly and popular materials related to Shakespeare published or produced between 1960 and 2010. The scope is international, extending to more than 120 languages. The more than 123,496 records in the 2009 edition cite several hundred thousand additional reviews of books, productions, films, and audio recordings.