Monthly Archives: June 2010

May 2010 Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter Goes To Press — If You’re Not an SOS Member, You’re Missing Out!

I’m sharing below the excellent lead story that will appear in the forthcoming SOS quarterly newsletter.  This piece was written by co-editors Katherine Chiljan and Ramon Jimenez.  Why am I sharing this with the world?  To show you what you’re missing!  Normally only SOS members get first crack at seeing the articles in our quarterly newsletter.  But I wanted to let SOS Online News readers see this excellent article and thereby encourage you to join the SOS.  

This lead story is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.  The newsletter is chock full of high-quality, insightful articles and reviews.  SOS members in good standing in 2010 are among the fortunate few who will be receiving their newsletters in the mail in the next few weeks. Non-members will be left in the dark … and really should consider joining the Shakespeare Oxford Society to keep up with fast-paced authorship and Oxfordian developments.

To join the SOS or renew your membership online, click this link. 

http://www.goestores.com/catalog.aspx?Merchant=shakespeareoxfordsociety

The process is quick, easy, painless.  Membership in the SOS does have its privileges … like receiving our newsletter and our annual scholarly journal The Oxfordian — which is mentioned in glowing terms in the lead article below.  So go ahead:  click and join.  You’ll be glad you did.  If you have an open mind on the authorship issue and want to learn more, we’ll welcome you into the SOS with open arms. 

Just click here to join: 

 

Much Ado About Authorship in Media

The Shakespeare Authorship Question has reached a new level of legitimacy upon the fresh release of a book devoted to the topic by English professor James Shapiro, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? The major media has embraced the book, and the controversy, by featuring interviews with Shapiro and reviews of his book online, and in English and American newspapers.

Academics have long ignored, dismissed, and even ridiculed those who doubted the Stratford Man as Shakespeare, but the public’s fascination with the controversy has put them on the defensive. Shapiro, in his recent interview with The Wall Street Journal (April 2, 2010), admitted his fears about this surging public attention. He stated that Roland Emmerich’s upcoming film portraying the Earl of Oxford as Shakespeare, “will be a disaster for those of us who teach Shakespeare.” Yet he also stated that Shakespeare was a “court observer” due to his having “performed at court over 100 times probably in the course of his career …” Although Oxfordians would agree with the former statement, the latter about the Stratford Man is a fantastic piece of guesswork.

In his interview, Shapiro also revealed the new defense strategy that academics are being forced to adopt: the sonnets of Shakespeare, written in the first person, are not autobiographical, nor are there autobiographical sources or references anywhere in the Shakespeare canon. He stated that “either you believe he’s recycling bits and pieces of his life, or you believe that he imagined them, and I like to think that he had the greatest imagination of any writer in the language. And I don’t want that belittled.”

Oxfordian scholars and enthusiasts, as well as other anti-Stratfordians, were also heartened by a clear-sighted and incisive review of Shapiro’s book in the April 2010 edition of The Brooklyn Rail: Critical Perspectives on Arts, Politics and Culture. The reviewer is William S. Niederkorn, a well-known commentator on the authorship question, and one of the most perceptive observers of its growing importance. Niederkorn’s 5,000-word essay, “Absolute Will,” reveals the inconsistencies, circular reasoning, and ridicule of anti-Stratfordian scholars that permeate Shapiro’s book, which has just been published by Simon & Shuster. Niederkorn describes Alan Nelson’s Monstrous Adversary as one of the most bilious biographies ever written,” “riddled with errors . . . and an embarrassment to scholarship.”

In recounting the recent history of the authorship question, Niederkorn also remarks that The Oxfordian, “the best American academic journal covering the authorship question, publishes papers by Stratfordians. By contrast, there is no tolerance for anti-Stratfordian scholarship at the conferences and journals Stratfordians control.” Niederkorn’s piece was chosen as the book review of the week by the National Book Critics Circle.

Perhaps the most notorious Shakespeare-related book of the last decade, Contested Will has already been reviewed in Publishers Weekly and The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Los Angeles Times, salon.com, The Economist, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The London Review of Books, The Guardian and The Independent and others. The book was also reviewed on the SOS’s website (SOS Online, Archives, Dec. 2009). Oxfordian scholars Richard Whalen and Tom Hunter provide additional reviews in this issue on pp. 7 and 12. It appears that the Anti-Anti-Stratfordian movement is “at last gasp,” to quote Oxford’s phrase in Cymbeline (1.5.53).

 

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Professor Michael Egan, Shakespeare Scholar Who Is Open-Minded on the Shakespeare Authorship Question, Named Editor of Shakespeare Oxford Society’s Quarterly Newsletter

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Matthew Cossolotto
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Professor Michael Egan, Shakespeare Scholar Who Is Open-Minded on the Shakespeare Authorship Question, Named Editor of Shakespeare Oxford Society’s Quarterly Newsletter

Professor Egan believes the Shakespeare authorship issue is a “legitimate and important area for investigation” and that “there are enough doubts to continue serious academic research”

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY – June 7, 2010 – The Shakespeare Oxford Society (SOS) has announced the appointment of Professor Michael Egan, a Shakespeare scholar who is open-minded on the Shakespeare authorship question, to be the editor of the Society’s quarterly newsletter.

With M.A. and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge, Professor Egan is an internationally known writer, consultant and educator.  Professor Egan will continue in his role as editor of The Oxfordian, the Shakespeare Oxford Society’s flagship annual scholarly publication.

There is a long and distinguished history of doubting the traditional “Stratfordian” attribution of the Shakespeare works.  Noted doubters over the years include Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Henry James, Sigmund Freud, and Charlie Chaplin.  More recent skeptics include renowned Shakespearean actors Sir Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Irons, Michael York, and Mark Rylance.

Last year, the Shakespeare Oxford Society and the Shakespeare Fellowship jointly presented the 2009 “Oxfordian of the Year Award” to John Paul Stevens, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  Justice Stevens has long doubted whether William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon is the real Bard.

The BBC published a story about the case for Edward de Vere as the real Shakespeare. (See BBC News: The Earl of Oxford’s Big Secret.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/oxford/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8380000/8380564.stm.) 

In this BBC article, Professor Egan is quoted as follows:

“One of the most disturbing aspects of the whole debate is the way the anti-Stratfordians are silenced. There isn’t any real attempt to confront the arguments. There’s just a general mocking and ridiculing strategy — what I call arguing by adjective… ‘ridiculous, absurd’ and so on… whereas in fact there’s some very suggestive and interesting pieces of information that need to be factored in there. It’s a little like the Copernican theory of the universe. What seems obvious at first turns out to be not so when you try to reconcile the obvious with the anomalies and the anomalies are great.”

Regarding the case for the 17th Earl of Oxford as “Shakespeare,” Professor Egan told the BBC: 

“He was very interested in the theatre.  He was often mentioned by contemporaries as being the finest writer of comedy in his day.  There are aspects of Oxford’s life which are reflected otherwise in the plays.  For example, he was captured by pirates at one point, which is also a mysterious moment in Hamlet.  There are lots of suggestive hints and details which should make a thoughtful person reflect a little bit on the question.”

John Hamill, president of the Shakespeare Oxford Society, said:  “We’re delighted that a Shakespeare scholar of Professor Egan’s stature agreed to join us as the editor of newsletter and our flagship annual publication. We invite other Shakespeare scholars and Bard lovers worldwide to approach the Shakespeare authorship issue with the same open mind that Professor Egan displays.  It’s a fascinating topic that deserves the serious attention of scholars and the media.”

Needed:  A Shakespeare Authorship Commission
To resolve the Shakespeare authorship mystery once and for all, the Shakespeare Oxford Society has called for the creation of an independent, blue ribbon commission composed of distinguished, internationally recognized experts in relevant fields – including historians, biographers, jurists, and other esteemed writers and scholars. 

More About Professor Michael Egan, PhD
Michael Egan is an internationally known writer, consultant and educator, with experience working in England, South Africa, the US mainland and Hawaii. Formerly Scholar in Residence, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Egan earned his BA from Witwatersrand University, and his M.A. and PhD degrees from Cambridge. He has served as Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Lecturer in English, Lancaster University, UK. and as Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University, and South London University. He is a prize-winning author of ten books and over 80 professional articles.

About The Shakespeare Oxford Society

Founded in 1957, New York-based Shakespeare Oxford Society is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to exploring the Shakespeare authorship question and researching the evidence that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford (1550 – 1604) is the true author of the poems and plays of “William Shakespeare.  The homepage of the Society also says the group is “Dedicated to Researching and Honoring the True Bard.”  Visit www.shakespeare-oxford.com for more information.