Who penned Shakespeare? Authorship Question Discussed — SOS Mentioned

Here’s a nicely balanced article in SpiceZee about the authorship question.  I’m quoted and the Shakespeare Oxford Society is mentioned.  Well done Akrita Reyar!  See excerpts below with link to read the entire article.  MC

Akrita Reyar
Updated on Friday, April 23, 2010, 12:58 IST

The literary world is firmly divided into two blocks: the Stratfordians and the anti- Stratfordians, such is the vigour of the authorship debate surrounding William Shakespeare.

Undoubtedly the greatest playwright of English, his sonnets and plays are at the core of literature and his famous quotes are such common parlance that one scarcely realises that he is citing Shakespeare, thinking rather the lines to be a part of the general language.

Master of the craft that he was, his quill had the power to mould the usage of the tongue; it follows that his oeuvre would come under microscopic scrutiny. Perhaps, no other author has been so consistently challenged, through the four hundred years after his death, as the famous Bard.

The Debate

The reasons for the debate are self explanatory. William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon was a man of humble background and modest education. Could he then produce the quality of writing that is yet to be paralleled and upon subjects that concerned a class much above his own? Could a middle class man, belonging to the countryside, write descriptively of the transactions in the palaces of London or of the nobility in Italy?

Why was it that Shakespeare did not itemize any of his volumes in his will? It may be disputed that the will’s inventory part was lost; but then again, how was it that none of his contemporary writers paid him a tribute on his death? The record of Stratford Parish Registrar shows that a gentleman was interred on April 25, 1616, but even the epitaph was placed only many days later. Could a man of Shakespeare’s repute be sent off unsung?

These questions are calcified because of insufficient evidence to establish that the Stratford man was indeed ‘the Shakespeare’. Besides the basic logic that is innate in the questions, hubris has had a role to play in raising doubts about the origin of the writings. One could ask – is it that the privileged and the well-heeled, of the class-conscious England, were not able to swallow the eminence and superiority of a man much below their rank?

Shakespeare was not spared from the magnifying lens even in his lifetime. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene had, on his deathbed in 1592, decried the “upstart crow”, who was not an original but an impostor “beautified with our feathers”.

Later, there were many famous names from across the globe who threw down the gauntlet like Mark Twain, Charlie Chaplin, Sigmund Freud and Orson Welles.

What did the contestants feel could have been the alternatives?

One, the Shakespeare of Stratford and the Shakespeare of London were two different people. Two, someone called William Shakespeare did work at The Globe; but rather than being the mainstay dramatist, he may have put his name to the plays being given to him. Or third, someone else was using the pseudonym Shakespeare.

Then again, why would a person not want to take credit for such sparkling prose?

Well, because a lot of the commentary in his plays was not necessarily politically correct. With the concept of ‘freedom of expression’ still unknown to the world, and particularly to the royalty, it may have been the obvious thing to do, if one didn’t want to befriend the guillotine. Using Shakespeare as a nom de plume may have been the ideal garb for a well known and upper class personality.

The Contenders and the Arguments

There are several names that have been recommended, time and again, as people who may have penned Shakespeare. The most prominent among them are Edward de Vere, Sir Francis Bacon and Christopher Marlowe. There are a slew of others, but not so serious contenders like English aristocrat, writer, soldier and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, Jacobean preacher and poet John Donne and even Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen.

The theory that Shakespeare was written by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, has probably the most believers. In-depth research into his life shows that many narratives and characters of the plays have a strong resemblance to this highly educated Earl, who was well positioned to create such illustrious canon. Not only does his style of writing resemble that of the Bard, he also had a moniker at court `Spear-shaker`.

Matthew Cossolotto, who was president of the Shakespeare Oxford Society in 2005-2009, feels the “jury is still out” on the authorship debate, which needs to be looked at with an “open mind”.

He said in an interview on the subject, “Hamlet is often cited by Oxfordians as being particularly autobiographical. The character of Polonius is widely regarded as a parody of Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth`s Lord Treasurer and most powerful adviser – and de Vere’s father-in-law. In the play, Hamlet and Polonius’s daughter, Ophelia, have a stormy relationship. In reality, de Vere married Burghley’s daughter, Anne Cecil, and the couple had a very stormy relationship.”

“Also, a detail is revealed in Hamlet that has no bearing on the plot: Hamlet is captured by pirates on his return to Denmark. Interestingly, the very same thing happened to de Vere upon his return to England after his extended sojourn to the continent,” he added

Read Whole Article:  http://spicezee.zeenews.com/articles/story59467.htm

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