Tag Archives: Othello

Oxfordian Shakespeare Series: Richard Whalen’s Second Edition of “Macbeth” Published

The second edition of “Macbeth” — edited, fully annotated and with a new introduction and much expanded line notes — has been published in the Oxfordian Shakespeare Series by Richard F. Whalen.  Whalen is co-general editor of the series with Dan Wright of Concordia University in Portland, Oregon.

Whalen states that his second edition and all the editions in the series are intended for “the general educated reader who has an interest in Shakespeare plays and who might be curious to know what an Oxfordian edition of a Shakespeare play would look like.”  Of course, he hopes that Oxfordians might also be curious.

“Macbeth” and “Othello” are the first two plays in the Oxfordian series, with eight more — all edited by university professors — in the pipeline.  These are the first editions of Shakespeare plays ever produced by Oxfordian scholars. “Othello” (2010) was co-edited by Richard and Ren Draya of Blackburn College.

Whalen has kindly has granted permission to the Shakespeare Oxford Society’s Online News to publish the opening paragraphs of his new introduction to “Macbeth.”

From the introduction:

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” explores the agonizing predicament and downfall of a courageous warrior who triumphs on the battlefield but fails in the arena of power politics and court intrigue.  He knows he is not cut out by experience or temperament to seize the throne by assassinating the king, but he fails to resist the evil scheming of the courtier-like Thane of Ross whose lying eliminates a potential rival and clears the way to the throne for him.  When the time comes to assassinate King Duncan, Macbeth is conscience-stricken but fails to stand firm against it and yields to the bullying of Lady Macbeth, who covets the throne much more than he does.

His tragic flaw is not overweening ambition, as is usually posited by traditional scholarship.  To the contrary, he exhibits a surprising lack of ambition. When the Weird Sisters (a.k.a. the witches) prophesy that he will be king, he does not exult.  He finds it hard to believe.  He fears what lies ahead for him and tries to screw up his courage, but falters. Before murdering the sleeping king he tells his wife, “We will proceed no farther in this business,” and afterwards, he says, “I am afraid to think what I have done.”  This character trait of fearful, reluctant ambition seems to have eluded commentators on the play.

Macbeth is induced to seize the throne against his better judgment, fearing the moral and political consequences.  Once in power, he finds he must lie and deceive those around him in court.  He fails to use good judgment as a monarch, ordering the murders of Banquo, Fleance and Macduff’s family.  Tormented by self-doubts and in spite of himself, the hero of the battlefield has become a furtive assassin and cruel tyrant.  For the reader and spectator, Macbeth’s struggle with his conscience and his self-inflicted assaults on his sense of honor, loyalty and self-respect evoke fascination with his plight, even a measure of sympathy for him.  Macbeth is essentially an honorable man corrupted by politics.

A close reading of “Macbeth” informed by the view that Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford, was the author reveals a play about court intrigues and power politics and the danger of irresolute ambition by someone ill-suited to kill by assassination and practice Machiavellian duplicity.

As a nobleman in Queen Elizabeth’s court, Oxford had an insider’s knowledge of the maneuvering of ambitious courtiers and pretenders to the Crown.  He could weigh the contending theories of royal succession that are found in the play. And he was in a position to know details of the assassination in 1567 of the consort king of Scotland by a rival — details that are echoed in the play.  The play also evinces knowledge of Scotland, including its law, language, geography, weather and witches; and Oxford served with the English military in northern England and Scotland in 1570, when he was twenty.  Other correspondences between the play and Oxford’s life experience range from witchcraft in sixteenth century Scotland to the influence of Greek tragedy.”

(The second edition of Macbeth has just been issued by Llumina Press and copies are available from them at www.llumina.com/store/macbeth.htm or by Googling  ‘Llumina store’  or at Amazon in the US and UK, generally for $13.95 plus shipping.)

Many thanks to Richard Whalen for providing the above excerpt from the second edition … and congratulations to him on the publication of this important work of Oxfordian scholarship.

To read a bit more from Richard Whalen about the topical allusions and possible dates of composition of “Macbeth” from an Oxfordian perspective, here’s a link to the online version of Whalen’s article from The Oxfordian:

http://www.shakespeare-oxford.com/?p=533

Oxfordian edition of Othello available from Llumina

Author Richard F. Whalen sends word that the Oxfordian edition of Shakespeare’s Othello edited by Whalen and Ren Draya, PhD is now available from Llumina Press. About his work on this Othello, Whalen said:

The cumulative effect of the clear correspondences between Othello and Oxford’s documented life experience is really extraordinary. There’s no better way to get a deep understanding of a Shakespeare play than to have to read everything written about it and then organize commentary on it. It was a great adventure working with Ren on this edition.

Ren Draya said, “We look forward to hearing responses from readers and hope that our Oxfordian Othello opens new avenues of investigation.” Draya has allowed SOS News Online to publish her remarks on editing Othello that she originally delivered as part of her presentation,“The Dramatist’s Knowledge of Music as Shown in Othello” at the Shakespeare Fellowship and Shakespeare Oxford Society 2009 joint annual conference in Houston, Texas: please see “Editing Othello” by Ren Draya.

Announcing Publication of the First Oxfordian Edition of Othello

The first Oxfordian edition of Othello, edited by Ren Draya, professor of British and American literature at Blackburn College, and Richard F. Whalen, co-general editor of the Oxfordian Shakespeare Series, has been released by the publisher, Horatio Editions – Llumina Press.

Informed by the view that the seventeenth Earl of Oxford wrote the Shakespeare plays, this edition of Othello has drawn on the extensive research and writings of Oxfordians and Stratfordians to describe the many correspondences between the play and the life of Oxford. Several of the most significant correspondences will be new to many Oxfordians.

In the introduction to the play and generous line notes, the editors examine how the play reflects the dramatist’s knowledge of the aristocracy, court life, the military, music, the Italian language, and the government and topography of Venice and Cyprus. A major influence on the play was commedia dell’arte, at its height in Venice when Oxford was there but unknown in England; another strong influence was Oxford’s concern for his reputation and abhorrence of the specter of cuckoldry.

In the appendix are articles on the significance of the music in Othello by Draya, on the dramatist’s unusual knowledge of the port of Famagusta on Cyprus by Whalen, and on Stratfordian scholars’ recognition of the dramatist’s in-depth knowledge of military command.

The general editors of the Oxfordian Shakespeare Series, published by Horatio Editions—Llumina Press, are Whalen and Daniel L. Wright of Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. The first in the series was Macbeth, edited by Whalen.

Forthcoming in the series, and their editors, are Antony and Cleopatra, Michael Delahoyde of Washington State University; Hamlet, Jack Shuttleworth, English department chair (ret.), U.S. Air Force Academy; The Tempest, Roger Stritmatter of Coppin State University, with Lynne Kositsky; Henry the Fifth, Kathy R. Binns-Dray, Lee University; King John, Daniel L. Wright, Concordia University, Portland, Oregon; Love’s Labor’s Lost, Felicia Londre, University of Missouri-Kansas City; and Much Ado About Nothing, Anne Pluto, Leslie University.

The Oxfordian Othello is $18.95 from Llumina Press at 866-229-9244 or order online from Llumina:
Oxfordian Shakespeare Series: Macbeth by Richard F. Whalen
Oxfordian Shakespeare Series: Othello by Richard F. Whalen and Ren Dreya

Editing Othello by Ren Draya

This essay on preparing an Oxfordian edition of Othello was first presented by Ren Draya, PhD, as part of a talk entitled “The Dramatist’s Knowledge of Music as Shown in Othello” at the Shakespeare Fellowship and Shakespeare Oxford Society 2009 joint annual conference in Houston, Texas.

Editing Othello
by Ren Draya, PhD

So, this business of editing Othello — well, I survived!  And the book is available from Llumina Press. How did it all start? Richard Whalen, a most persuasive and tenacious Oxfordian, asked me in the cafeteria of Concordia University in April 2005 if I’d be willing to tackle the project. Bedazzled by his Irish charm, I agreed. I had no idea it would stretch into a more than four-year-long endeavor.

Initially, I re-read the play, looked through all my files, and started collecting various editions of Othello. Editing an entire play involves three components:  working on the play text, writing an introductory essay, and preparing line notes.

Getting a copy of the play text on my computer simply meant a download from MOBY on June 9, 2005, which was done by the computer whiz at Blackburn College. Most of the work for this project was done in my very pleasant office at Blackburn College. As you might guess, teaching full-time or being committed to any full-time job, does not fit in well to a mammoth task such as editing a Shakespeare play. About 90-percent of my work was done during holiday times, occasional weekends, and the long summer breaks.

In that first summer, 2005, I spent a week at the British Library, happily requesting and reading dozens of articles and books on the play. (This was July 2005 – just two weeks before the bus and tube attacks blocks from my hotel.)

I wrote the first draft of the introduction in August 2005 and sent it off to Richard Whalen and Dan Wright. Richard became the main communicator — except that we discovered my Macintosh wasn’t always on speaking terms with his PC.  There were initial difficulties with the computers not communicating effectively (or at all) with each other. Because there was no common word-processing program, line numbers did not match up. With help from my students and professional technical advice, the problems were eventually resolved. I also received help from the college library staff, who sent for all sorts of material via inter-library loan from JStor.

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