Tag Archives: R. Thomas Hunter

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).

 

Robert Detobel translates Whalen review

Robert Detobel has translated Richard F. Whalen’s English-language review of James Shapiro’s new book, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, into German. Whalen’s review is now available on the German-language Shake-speare Today website.

Shake-speare Today administrator Hanno Wember said that Detobel will also translate R. Thomas Hunter’s review and will write a review of his own for Shake-Speare Today. When asked why the site is offering this service to their German readers, Wember said:

Shapiro’s book will be known in Germany sooner or later. Shapiro’s reputation, authority and influence on Shakespeare scholars should not be understimated. This holds for Germany as well. Possibly there will be reviews soon; even if no German translation of his book will be published in the near future. So we want to offer our readers an Oxfordian view first.

***

Richard Whalens Rezension von James Shapiros neuem Buch Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? wurde von Robert Detobel ins Deutsche übersetzt und ist jetzt auf der deutschsprachigen Internetseite Shake-speare Today zugänglich.

***

Update April 2, 2010
Robert Detobel’s translation of R. Thomas Hunter’s review of
Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro has been posted to Shake-speare Today.

Hunter reviews Contested Will

Review: Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare by James Shapiro (Simon & Schuster 2010)

Thomas Hunter, Ph.D.

Let’s start with the good news about James Shapiro’s Contested Will. The good news is that for the first time a Stratfordian has become familiar in some detail with Oxfordians and Oxfordian history. The bad news is the distortion, twisting, and misrepresentation Shapiro feels obliged to employ in telling the Oxfordian story.

Shapiro goes out of his way to protest the history of shabby, if not hostile, treatment of authorship proponents by the scholarly community.  As his narrative plays out, however, it becomes clear that Shapiro’s attitude toward authorship is as shabby and hostile as that of any of the traditional scholars he criticizes. It doesn’t take long for the book’s surprisingly collegial initial façade to deteriorate into the more familiar hard face of Stratfordian bias and intolerance.

From concept to conclusion, Contested Will is another perversion of scholarship to make a point. We have seen this before in Alan Nelson’s monstrous biography of Oxford.

Shapiro conducts no substantive analysis of authorship issues. He provides no discussion of the merits. His approach is to talk about the personalities of authorship. His modus is to explain away authorship by explaining away its proponents through the years. His book is one prolonged, detailed ad hominem attack — pure and simple.

Continue reading

Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter out

A new issue of the quarterly Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter has been published thanks to the work of many fine writers and skilled editors including former editor Lew Tate, the entire Shakespeare-Oxford Society Publications Committee: Chairman John Hamill, Katherine Chiljan, Richard Smiley, Ramon Jimenez, Frank Davis, Brian Bechtold and Jim Brooks, and to Richard Whalen and all the Oxfordians whose generosity inspired this effort.

In this space we will preview the current newsletter with a letter from SOS President Matthew Cossolotto and an interview with playwright Alan Navarre. Other articles in the current issue include:
a report of the thirteenth Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference by Richard Joyrich, MD
a commentary on the April 2009 Wall Street Journal article on Justice John Paul Stevens’ Oxfordian point-of-view by R. Thomas Hunter, PhD
a translation and elucidation of Spanish ambassador Antonio Perez’s letters by John Hamill,
an article on the relevance of Shakspere’s signatures by Frank Davis
and a review of Stanley Wells’ Is It TrueWhat They Say about Shakespeare? by Richard Whalen.

Hardcopy of the newsletter is available as a benefit of Shakespeare-Oxford Society membership. Support SOS by joining online at:
http://www.goestores.com/catalog.aspx?Merchant=shakespeareoxfordsociety&DeptID=27020 Membership also includes hardcopy of the SOS annual journal, The Oxfordian — a new issue of The Oxfordian is due out in time for the SF/SOS joint conference in Houston November 5-8, 2009.

Linda Theil, Editor
Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter