Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday March 25 2013

What an odd week.  Almost no Shakespeare out there in the world.  Well, not that I could see anyway. But quite a lot, closer to home.

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary:
  • April, which will soon be upon us, comes from the Latin aperire, to open, and is mentioned in many of Shakespeare’s plays. It is also the month in which Shakespeare was born and died, although the Dictionary doesn’t tell us that.
  • Aquilon is the north wind. In Troilus and Cressida Ajax tells the trumpeter to blow like Aquilon to summon Hector to battle.

Shakespeare sightings:
  • Not a single one this week!  What’s the world coming to?

Further this week:

 Posted this week:
  • This Monday report


  1. I have grave doubts about this webinar on the authorship question. The whole issue deserves nothing of the kind. It is disturbingly similar to the Evolution vs Creationism debate. On the one side, a scientific theory, not without blank spots and troublesome points, but with a good deal of *positive* evidence as well. On the other side, a wildly speculative hypothesis that rests *entirely* on faith - and debunking the other side by negative evidence (which is a nonsensical conception by default).

    Let me put the authorship controversy as briefly as I could. My point is that ignoring anti-Stratfordians, not arguing with them and resorting to ad hominem attacks, is the best policy to adopt, never mind their scorn which such attitude is bound bound to arouse.

    This is my modest virtual collection of early quartos; there are, among other things, eight of them:

    Taking into account some wrong dates, half of them were published during Will's life and half within a decade after his death. Let's focus on the former four: Hamlet (1604)*, Richard III (1602), Romeo and Juliet (1597) and Troilus and Cresseyd (1609).

    Three of these editions do contain facsimile reproductions of the title pages. (R&J is the exception.) All three of these pages do contain the line "By William Shakespeare". That's right. It's not even "Shakspere" or anything like that. It's Shakespeare.

    Show me the tiniest bit of evidence that these attributions are fake and you'll have my complete attention. And I mean *positive* evidence, material evidence - which simply means evidence that rests of facts and artefacts. Speculations on the non-existence of something, and extrapolation on this basis, are not evidence. This is pseudo-evidence which leads to pseudo-scholarship.


    The edition is actually of the first quarto from 1603. But it does contain, also, a facsimile of the title page of the second quarto from 1604: this is the one discussed here. Incidentally, the first quarto's title page lists the author as "Shake-speare" - not that it matters considering the mind-numbingly erratic spelling in Elizabethan times.

  2. By way of conclusion, a few words about the chief anti-Stratfordian argument using their own method of sweeping statements based on nothing more than personal feelings. It's really easy to make any case like that.

    Reading the comments of anti-Stratfordians, their greatest objection seems to be that Shakespeare, it seems fairly certain, never did go to universiry. Big deal. University education is grossly overrated in the first place. The only "education" that really matters is the self-education of personal experience. This is not taught is schools and colleges. It can't be.

    Personally, I think Shakespeare was not so much a great reader as a great mixer. Much if not all of his knowledge he might easily have obtained by conversation with all and sundry. I am indebted - as for so much else as regards Will and his times - to G. B. Harrison who once casually remarked, in one of his books on the subject, that conversation is by far the greatest source of knowledge. And it is the right type of knowledge for this case: vast yet inaccurate.

    Besides, as Bill Bryson has wisely remarked, the value of Shakespeare really has nothing to do with his knowledge. This is the least remarkable part of his genius. Only small and superficial minds are impressed by such things. The value of Shakespeare is his (just about unparalleled) understanding of the human condition. This is learnt neither from books nor in colleges, much less so the ability to express it on paper.

    If you want a fine modern equivalent of the "authorship controversy", think of "The Dark Side of the Moon" being written and recorded by some other band but Pink Floyd. Forty years have passed since this amazing album hit the charts with a vengeance. It's about time somebody put the record straight by telling the real story of its creation...

    I'd better go to bed now...

    1. I actually love to read your comment above, Alexander. I agree completely. Actually, desiring to know more about that, I apply to the webinar. Let's see what they have to say about it. It sounds funny how so many people seem to be ready to do anything to prove that the plays attributed to Shakespeare are not really Shakespeare's. For me, refusing Shakespeare just because he's not 'educated' is unreasonable. Many of our modern writers and singers and actors don't get education on their professional subjects, but they do great anyway, thanks to their experience and hard work. So I say I'll believe that Shakespeare really wrote all that, until it's proven, and reasonably proven, otherwise. :D

    2. Hurrah for these comments! I so agree and I hope others read these excellent arguments. Only one disagreement with Alexander and that is on whether or not the webinair debate is a good thing. I think it is. It's like Richard Dawkins tirelessly,reasonably explaining to the unreasonable (in every sense of the word!) insistent creationists. Water dripping on a stone. Lighting sparks in the darkness. And all that.
      Welcome to the blog, Lemon Tree. We're looking forward to more comments. Let us know what you think of the Webinair when it's been done.
      Everybody, be sure to check out Alexander's link to Library Thing.

  3. I agree with your disagreement, Ruby. I mean, I hope I'm wrong, you're right, and the webinar will do some good. I can't quite imagine a debate between sides as opposite as "only material evidence matters" and "the absence of evidence is the only real evidence", but that may well be my, to borrow a phrase from Arthur Clarke, failure of imagination.

    Lemon Tree, it's great to have you with us. The presence of more Strarfordians is encouraging that there may still be some intelligent life left on Earth.

  4. Oh I think there's quite a lot of intelligent life left on Earth. Richard Dawkins says, "There are still no grounds for complacency," (The Greatest Show on Earth, last sentence)but the evidence for intelligent life is also quite convincing. About the webinar, let's hope it reaches and convinces some non-Stratfordians.