November 3, 2011

Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare?

A perennial controversy is over who really wrote Shakespeare's plays. Rather than get into the endless details, I got to wondering whether there are any other controversies over who really wrote something. For example, 1984 was actually written by a man named Eric Blair, but we know that. 

What I'm wondering is whether there are any other controversies over who wrote famous works of literature. If they were fairly common, then that would seem to make the anti-Stratfordian case seem more plausible. It these controversies are very rare, then the likelihood that there just happens to be a controversy over the most famous of all writers would seem lower.

By way of analogy, when I was a kid, there was a controversy over whether Paul McCartney was dead. If there had been other raging controversies over which musicians were dead, such as whether ? of ? and the Mysterians (96 Tears) was dead, then the Paul Is Dead brouhaha would have seemed more plausible: "Oh, rock stars are always dying and not telling anybody, so it's perfectly likely that Paul is dead." On the other hand, if the only controversy involved the most famous band of all time, then it would seem more likely to be just some stupid idea that obsessive potheads made up.

Similarly, lots of people believed that Elvis, Jim Morison, and Tupac Shakur weren't dead. But that seemed like wishful thinking. If lots of people were going around saying stuff like, "You know, The Big Bopper? Chantilly Lace? I never really liked him, but I thought this was interesting: he didn't really die in that plane crash with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. He was actually on the bus with Waylon Jennings and just used the plane crash to skip out on some IRS trouble and a statuatory rape rap *. I don't really care about the Big Bopper, but I thought that was interesting," well, that would make it seem a little more plausible that fanatical fans of Presley, Morison, and Shakur were denying their heroes' deaths: Rock stars are always disappearing. That's what they do.  

Of course, there are a lot of questions about whether bestsellers written by celebrities were ghostwritten. For example, Michael Jordan is said to have written more books than he has read. Jack Cashil argues that Bill Ayers wrote Barack Obama's autobiography for him. Nobody doubts that Karen Hughes wrote George W. Bush's 1999 campaign autobiography for him. 

But what about real books? The only recent such controversy I can think of involves the 1965 Nobel Laureate in literature, Mikhail Sholokhov. In the 1960s, Soviet dissidents, Alexander Solzhenitsyn on the right and Roy Medvedev on the left, argued that the Stalin Prize winner had plagiarized the manuscript for And Quiet Flows the Don from a dead Cossack officer. Looking at Wikipedia, it appears that most of the more recent evidence points toward Sholokhov as being the actual author, although who knows who cares enough about this dusty controversy to edit Wikipedia.

If you go farther back in time, there may be more such controversies. One that I'm aware of involves the epistles of Ivan the Terrible, first Czar of all the Russias. Wikipedia writes:
D.S. Mirsky called Ivan "a pamphleteer of genius". The epistles attributed to him are the masterpieces of old Russian (perhaps all Russian) political journalism. They may be too full of texts from the Scriptures and the Fathers, and their Church Slavonic is not always correct. But they are full of cruel irony, expressed in pointedly forcible terms.

Stalin apparently liked Ivan the Terrible's style.
The shameless bully and the great polemicist are seen together in a flash when he taunts the runaway prince Kurbsky with the question: "If you are so sure of your righteousness, why did you run away and not prefer martyrdom at my hands?" Such strokes were well calculated to drive his correspondent into a rage. "The part of the cruel tyrant elaborately upbraiding an escaped victim while he continues torturing those in his reach may be detestable, but Ivan plays it with truly Shakespearian breadth of imagination".[37] These letters are often the only existing source on Ivan's personality and provide crucial information on his reign, but Harvard professor Edward Keenan has argued that these letters are 17th century forgeries. This contention, however, has not been widely accepted, and other scholars, such as John Fennell and Ruslan Skrynnikov continued to argue for their authenticity. Recent archival discoveries of 16th century copies of the letters strengthen the argument for their authenticity.

On the other hand, note that this is the opposite of the Shakespeare controversy. With Ivan the Terrible's letters, the question is whether this important and famous man wrote these works, or whether somebody's lower ranking's work is attributed to the Czar. With the Shakespearean controversy, the standard view is that the plays were written by an obscure hustler from Stratford, while the heretics argue that they were written by somebody more important and high-ranking, such as the Earl of Oxford, Francis Bacon, or King James (the candidate of Malcolm X).
--------
* Warning: Don't believe anything you read here about ? or The Big Bopper.

196 comments:

Anonymous said...

In about 1984 there was a strong rumour going around in the UK that comedian/comic actor Ade Edmondson was dead.

In those far off pre-universal WWW times it was hard to verify such things, being dependant on the MSM.

Thursday said...

Human beings deeply want to find something of the author in their work, and usually there is something of them there.

But Shakespeare is always hiding behind his characters. He is the least self-revealing of authors.

This makes for incredible art, but it also drives people, who are always looking for faces in the clouds, completely nuts.

Thursday said...

I can't think of any any literary hoaxes/forgeries/conspiracies that have been found out centuries later. The ones that there have been, have been figured out pretty quickly. Eg. Ossian and Chatterton.

FirstComment said...

what about Profiles in Courage?

Grumpy Old Man said...

Well, the litterateurs wonder if there was a Homer, and if so whether he wrote both those epics.

Wes said...

Question: Is there general agreement that whoever Shakespeare was, he was one person (excluding minor revision through the ages).

Reg Cæsar said...

There's a plausible rumor that Ron Ryan, the brother of a former bandmate, did most, if not all, of the writing of the Dave Clark Five's biggest hits, officially credited to Clark and the late Mike Smith.

This is fascinating because there was a court case, and now everyone connected is mum. (Especially Smith!) But is that due to the decision, or to the fact that Clark owns everything about the group-- his mates were on salary-- and could easily buy their silence?

Ryan himself is coy, billing himself as a "former songwriter for the Dave Clark Five", which he can do, whatever the case, as he did get explicit credit for the occasional song.

Smith sat in for Paul Shaffer the week Shaffer sat in for David Letterman. I wonder if Paul took Mike aside and asked, "Just what did you do on 'Because'?"

Steve Sailer said...

Keith Richards claims that Chuck Berry's piano player had to have composed Chuck's famous guitar parts.

Anonymous said...

'read or hear'/ or 'read here'?

TH said...

It has been claimed that Beryl Markham's West With The Night was actually written by her husband, a professional writer.

According to some calculations Jean-Dominique Bauby could not have written The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by blinking his eyelid because it would have taken much more time that it is said to have taken.

Reg Cæsar said...

The Shakespeare Clinic at the Claremont Colleges, run by the son of a dedicated Oxfordian, found that none of 37 contemporary writers' known works came close to matching the Bard in style, word choice, grammar, etc. (Oxford was as far away as anyone.)

This can mean only one thing-- the plays must have been written by someone who left no other writings!! Was that Rutland, or Derby? I keep forgetting...

The Clinic and Vassar's Donald Foster had a parting of the ways over the mysterious "Funeral Elegy". But Foster's "Author Unknown" is well worth reading for its chapters on his hunt for the Unabomber, and his evidence that Henry Livingston, not Clement Clark Moore, wrote that Christmas poem.

But you don't need a computer or a PhD for those cases. The bomber's brother recognized his style without any training. And for the other, well, all you need is an ear.

Reg Cæsar said...

Keith Richards claims that Chuck Berry's piano player had to have composed Chuck's famous guitar parts.

Don't ever say that Chuck Berry couldn't write a song. He wrote it over and over and over!

bjdubbs said...

Sir Walter Raleigh's Historie of the World (the first such undertaking) was unlikely to have been written by the purported author, who was doing many other things, like searching for gold in Guiana and establishing colonies in Virginia.

According to Hume, "They were struck with the extensive genius of the man, who being educated amidst naval and military enterprises,had surpassed in the pursuits of literature, even those of the most recluse and sedentary lives; and they admired his unbroken magnanimity, which at his age, and under his circumstances, could engage him to undertake and execute so great a work as his History of the World."

Anonymous said...

Ugh, Shakespeare trutherism.

Anonymous said...

"then the likelihood that there just happens to be a controversy over the most famous of all writers would seem lower."

Anglocentrism at it's best. Sure, Shakespeare might be the most renown because England industrialized first and thus achieved cultural dominance and propelled it's geniuses to much greater heights than those outside the Anglosphere. It is the same reason why Newton is regarded as a greater genius than Leibniz even though the latter was a broader genius and we use Leibniz's notation for integral calculus and not Newton's. The Anglo-Saxon propaganda machine. It is the same reason why hacks like Dickens are famous whilst Spanish writers like Cervantes and Lorca, who produced truly beautiful literature, are almost completely unknown. I regard Dostoevsky as vastly superior to Shakespeare, but few except erudites know who he was because there was never any propaganda machine pumping him up as this invincible super-genius of doom. History books are written by the winners, and the poor Spaniards and Russians are not them.

agnostic said...

The Revenger's Tragedy was thought to be written by a somewhat obscure playwright named Cyril Tourneur, but it's now accepted that Middleton wrote it.

I don't know that scholarship first-hand, but I don't think they suggest that the original attribution was some kind of cover-up, just an enduring mistake.

That's where you want to look if you are talking about Shakespeare, though. Not are there other cases in literature as a whole, but would it have been unusual in that time and place and medium.

We have at least one fairly settled case that authorship of a major Jacobean play was wrong for centuries.

MSG said...

The Bible seems to be full of mistaken attributions (books of Moses, the four gospels) and forgeries (some of "Paul's" letters). Some people think that Samuel Clemens helped write Grant's Memoirs. But unlike the Shakespeare allegation, these cases do not involve a high status person ashamed to write under his own name, using a lower status person as a front, though the Grant case has some similarity. This would have been one Clemens book that probably would not have sold better under the Mark Twain name. The profits in any event went to Mrs. Grant.

MSG said...

The Bible seems to be full of mistaken attributions (books of Moses, the four gospels) and forgeries (some of "Paul's" letters). Some people think that Samuel Clemens helped write Grant's Memoirs. But unlike the Shakespeare allegation, these cases do not involve a high status person ashamed to write under his own name, using a lower status person as a front, though the Grant case has some similarity. This would have been one Clemens book that probably would not have sold better under the Mark Twain name. The profits in any event went to Mrs. Grant.

Peter A said...

I thought there was some controversy about certain works of Roman literature simply because we have so little documentation. Who was Catullus? Who was Lucretius? Who really wrote The Satyricon? Did Caesar really write the Gallic Wars or were the ghostwritten, etc.

Peter A said...

"Is there general agreement that whoever Shakespeare was, he was one person (excluding minor revision through the ages)."

I don't know. I would think that by the nature of the theater the plays we know today may include a lot of adlibbed lines contributed by actors and possibly suggestions that various witty nobles condescended to offer after performances or rehearsals. I would be very surprised if the texts we have represent first drafts that Will wrote all by himself.

Anonymous said...

Wondering what's happened to this blog lately (which I still love, don't get me wrong). Comment threads are suddenly twice as long and Steve is posting a lot more, but more innocuously. Is he shaping a more mainstream persona?

josh said...

The Shakespeare authorship question is a question because there is *no* similar instance of attribution of great works to an author that other than this attribution shows no sign of even being able to write a post card or even owning any books. That's just weird.

wren said...

I find myself looking for the grand theory that Steve may be searching for in all these posts about people who are more popular outside of their own culture or folks who did not produce their own work, etc., etc.

Anonymous said...

A commenter has mentioned the authorship controversy of the Homeric works. Then New Testament and apocrypha authorship controversies should also be mentioned. Gospels and acts and epistles and apocalypse and all those Johns.. It's a huge cluster-controversy.

It was the M.O. in pre-modern times, it seems. Mostly for the sake of authoritativeness. In those days publishing being an expensive affair, with having to hire an artisan for days on end to get a copy, so most books were IMPORTANT works; of which John the Apostle would be a more fitting author than John Doe.

Today, an area where authoritativeness is somewhat of importance is biographies and that is an area where false attribution (ghostwriting) is considered normal. Knowing whether Karen Hughes really should be the writer of the definitive George W. Bush biography is hard. And I do not really care enough to learn who should be the authority. But a W biography written by himself is instant VALUE. One by Karen Whoever may never reach the bookstores for what I know and care.

In the age of copyright who actually wrote the text is of utmost importance. Plagiarism is the deadliest sin of writing. Whereas, many pre-modern works are derivative works. What survive of many ancient works are those which are in extensive quotations in others.

I presume, Shakespeare did not really made most of his money from selling prints of his plays, but, actually, from putting them on stage; and would not need to insinuate himself in his works
as much as the present-time writers of great-novels-of-art. It is only normal that performance arts convey themselves better to personalization in performance rather than in the text; in form rather than in substance. [Which brings to mind, Steve's review of Never Let Me Go, (http://isteve.blogspot.com/2011/02/should-clones-vital-organs-be-harvested.html). A great-novel-of-art may not be a great-candidate-for-adaptation.]

Also, I feel proud of myself for resisting this far before making a Holy Ghost-writing joke.

Gilbert Ratchet said...

Question: Is there general agreement that whoever Shakespeare was, he was one person (excluding minor revision through the ages).

Lately there have been proposals that he had co-authors:

http://www.amazon.com/Shakespeare-Co-Author-Historical-Study-Collaborative/dp/0199269165/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320406072&sr=1-3

Dennis Mangan said...

I think it was William F. Buckley who said that Shakespeare's plays weren't written by Shakespeare, but by another man of the same name.

Did Frederick the Great really write the music attributed to him?

There used to be a controversy over whether Moses wrote the Pentateuch, in fact this controversy was perhaps the first shot in the war over the Bible.

The authorship of "The Divine Names" and other books was long attributed to Dionysius the Aereopagite, a man named in one of Paul's Epistles.

Baloo said...

Just a thought, but has anybody else noticed that Vonnegut's writing lacked a lot of its former punch after Nixon died?

Turn me on dead man said...

Hilarious comment on Youtube link about 60s Latinos needing to conceal their ethnicity, a la Richie Valens or fake pharaoh Sam the Sham. Of course, some Mysterians turned out not to be who they claimed they were and Q. Mark was always a self-professed alien (from space, that is). Had a good friend in college who was an idiot-savant with rock conspiracy theories; best one being that (Hispanic metal bassist!) Tom Araya of Slayer actually can't play his instrument, and that there's a hidden tech backstage piping it in...

Harry Baldwin said...

Isn't Allah considered to have written the Koran, with Mohammed his amanuensis? Having struggled through a quarter of that text before retiring in boredom and confusion, I'm skeptical.

Just because you're paranoid said...

Malcolm did show a penchant for occult literary theories in that book, interesting stuff despite its coming from a hopeless autodidact. He seemed to have a conspiratorial cast of mind (perhaps w/ good reason)

French painter Pierre Brassau turned out to be a Swedish chimp, but probably doesn't really fit your topic here.

Anonymous said...

There is in fact no controversy among genuine Shakespeare scholars about the authorship issue - the plays were written by the man from Stratford, and no serious evidence points in any other direction. (The issue was never even raised until the nineteenth century.) It's a question that appears controversial to amateurs but is in fact broadly settled among the relevant experts, like evolution/creation. (There are a couple of late plays that Shakespeare co-wrote with John Fletcher, and there are debates about how much was who.)

In my scholarly career, I've never encountered any kind of significant "authorship problem" for any of the basic canonical authors. (I've got a Ph.D in English.) The closest thing I can think of is how much Samuel Beckett, as James Joyce's secretary, contributed to the shaping of Finnegan's Wake (Joyce was blind when he wrote it). There are also cases where co-authorship raises difficulties. And Poe famously claimed to have ghost-written at least one novel, but it's never been found (and may never have existed). But among authors with biographies (as opposed to Homer or the Biblical authors, for example), there aren't any major problems that I can think of.

FredR said...

The latest New Yorker has a pretty good summary of arguments over the authorship of the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Anonymous said...

I often wonder if in 200 years people will look back and doubt that 2 guys named Lennon and McCartney could have written so many timeless songs. Surely George Martin or Brian Epstein or a team of unidentified writers was behind the scenes, since there's obviously no way the same man could have written both Yesterday and Helter Skelter.

ironrailsironweights said...

A sort-of case involves Muhammed Ali's famous quips. While cornerman Bundini Brown admitted to coming up with some of them, including the famous "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" line, in fact he may have scripted all of them.

Peter

Anonymous said...

How about that boogyman book, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

Some other allegations:

Bob Marley wrote "I Can See Clearly Now".

The "My Sister and I" forgery by Nietzsche.



Ghostplaying: tons of Jimmy Page allegations on mid-60's stuff.

Hunter and Wagner playing Joe Perry's parts on Aerosmith songs.

beowulf said...

Lee Harvey Oswald is as likely to have written Shakespeare as Shakespeare.

""#31 William De Vere... The bulk of the evidence indicates that "William Shakespeare" was a pseudonym used by Edward de Vere, the 16th Earl of Oxford..."
The 100: a ranking of the most influential persons in history, Michael H. Hart
http://books.google.com/books?id=jvbNRbDKY1wC&lpg=PP1&dq=michael h hart&pg=PA153#v

Marlowe said...

Amusingly, Erich von Däniken's defense of the inaccuracies and plain invented parts of his famous work CHARIOTS OF THE GODS? (to an investigative reporter from BBC Horizon) in the late 70s depended on attributing all the bogus elements to his anonymous researchers whom he claimed wrote those bits.

The early 70s also saw the Clifford Irving controversy over whether Howard Hughes had actually supplied him with the material he claimed to use in his authorized biography.

Haven't feminist scholars made play with the notion that many great writers actually stole their work from their wives or mistresses? I recall reading that Zelda Fitzgerald claimed F. Scott lifted whole sections of her personal diary and other writing for use in his own.

Marlowe said...

The authenticity of paintings is a far bigger deal in the art world given the number of fakes in circulation. (The original has value whereas no one could care less normally about the original manuscript of a novel).

bruce banner said...

The surviving works of Aristotle were likely written by his succesors in the Lyceum (his schoool), such as Theophrastus and Straton. Or even they may have just been transcriptions of his lectures by unknown students.

Nanonymous said...

One controversy that comes to mind is whether Russian writer and Nobel prize winner Mikhail Sholokhov really wrote "And Quiet Flows the Don" (the only outstanding piece of literature that he has ever published).

The reasoning is not unlike the one in Shakespeare's case: Sholkohov was too young and he could not have possibly known all the details vividly depicted in the novel. Also like in Shakespeare's case, there is almost a dozen of alternative authors proposed. One of the prominent proponents of the Sholokhov conspiracy theory was another Nobelist, Solzhenitsyn.

Nanonymous said...

Ooops, should have finished reading before replying...

Luke Lea said...

I guess there's no stomach for re-raising the issue of who organized and polished the prose in Obama's memoir? A lot of people (including yours truly) based their assessment of Obama's intellect on the basis of that book.

Alas, the only thing I seem to have gotten right was that, judging by the exquisiteness of it all, he might turn out to be a Hamlet.

Steiner said...

Surely the most consequential case of disputed authorship is that of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Bolsheviks have always insisted that they were written by Tsarist security services. I don't have a position either way, I just wonder why the Romanovs would have undertaken such an effort, and why their motivation is never addressed when the question comes up.

Nanonymous said...

OK then: Homer. Supposedly, he may not have lived or written all or everything attributed to him.

Black Sea said...

Considerable controversy once surrounded the works of Jerzy Kosinski, with some arguing that he plagiarised from obscure Polish texts, and others claiming the Kosinski's editorial assistants pretty much wrote his books for him. Rather than resolving these claims, I think most people just ran out of interest in his work.

I am a Cult, not a Cause. said...

So said Joseph Sobran too. Maybe he should have employed a different persona to save his career from accusations of 'aunty-semitism'.
Michael Hart of 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE also revised his new editions, arguing for Devere than Shakes.

I think some conservative people like the idea of Devere cuz he was an aristocrat, implying the higher-born are the real artists and that a commoner like Shakes couldn't have written something so great.
But it also could be some liberals like the idea because DeQueer was gay.

Personally, I'm thinking Shakespeare was really Shakespearowicz.

Anonymous said...

Shakespeare wrote for popular taste and his background research was superficial. I'd say that his output was consistent with a slapdash education and humble origins but a really quick mind, the company of other clever men, and a desire to make a lot of money -- something nobles with estates and annuities didn't have to worry about doing.

The whole Shakespeare is a pseudonym meme probably just illustrates what some psychologists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute discovered: that when 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief (in this case, the population of Shakespeare scholars), that belief eventually gets adopted by the majority of the society. Ten percent seems to be the tipping point.

Like the belief first held by blacks, lefties, and college kids that Obama is a genius and that he will heal the planet if we elect him president. Or that Gay marriage is a good thing. Or that white people regardless of where their ancestors were in 1865 owe blacks reparations in perpetuity. Or that Mexicans have a right to live in the US and receive welfare for their dim kids.

Anonymous said...

There was, and to some extent still is, speculation that U.S. Grant's Personal Memoirs were ghost-written by his good friend Samuel L. Clemens a/k/a Mark Twain. Twain denied it vociferously, and given how much he hated lies and humbug, it is hard to imagine him being party to an arrangement like that.

And the book is that good. Not only have they been in continuous print since 1885, they are the only presidential autobiography still in print from before the 21st century--I'm not even sure Clinton's 2004 My Life is still in a paperback run. It's true literature, and a masterful example of how economical, plain-spoken American prose style can nonetheless sing.

Incidentally, Twain himself doubted Shakespeare's authorship, but his favored candidate was Francis Bacon--de Vere wouldn't be mooted until decades after he died. Nowadays we correctly see the Baconian camp as lunacy--much the same as people circa 2050-2100 will see today's Oxfordians.

Conrad Bibby said...

Coincidentally, there actually was some kind of controversy surrounding the death of the Big Bopper, or at least "unanswered questions." These were apparently of sufficient concern to cause his son to disinter his father's corpse a few years ago for the purposes of taking x-rays, etc. You can find a photographic account of this bizarre episode thanks to your friends at Google.

As for other dead people, I can think of several instances where a famous person has been alleged to have escaped the violent death attributed to them in official, contemporaneous accounts: John Wilkes Booth, Jesse James, that Russian princess Anastasia, Adolf Hitler, Amelia Earhart, and Andy Kaufman. ("Paul is Dead" is the only case I know of that was the other way around.) None of these cases of a famous person allegedly escaping death and living on under an assumed identity appears to be remotely plausible. However, I would imagine many people in history have pulled off the trick of pretending to die to escape the law or their creditors. In fact, I just read the other day of how J. Edgar Hoover ordered fingerprints be taken off the purported corpse of Howard Hughes to verify that he had really died and wasn't just trying to evade the IRS.

Conrad Bibby said...

Coincidentally, there actually was some kind of controversy surrounding the death of the Big Bopper, or at least "unanswered questions." These were apparently of sufficient concern to cause his son to disinter his father's corpse a few years ago for the purposes of taking x-rays, etc. You can find a photographic account of this bizarre episode thanks to your friends at Google.

As for other dead people, I can think of several instances where a famous person has been alleged to have escaped the violent death attributed to them in official, contemporaneous accounts: John Wilkes Booth, Jesse James, that Russian princess Anastasia, Adolf Hitler, Amelia Earhart, and Andy Kaufman. ("Paul is Dead" is the only case I know of that was the other way around.) None of these cases of a famous person allegedly escaping death and living on under an assumed identity appears to be remotely plausible. However, I would imagine many people in history have pulled off the trick of pretending to die to escape the law or their creditors. In fact, I just read the other day of how J. Edgar Hoover ordered fingerprints be taken off the purported corpse of Howard Hughes to verify that he had really died and wasn't just trying to evade the IRS.

gwern said...

> I can't think of any any literary hoaxes/forgeries/conspiracies that have been found out centuries later

Thursday: you are completely wrong. Just about every ancient manuscript lies about its authorship, antiquity, or something else, which we know of thanks to critical scholarship which has been developing since the exposure of the Donation of Constantine hoax (which survived something like 400 years before its exposure). Like every book of the Bible lies about authorship, as do most of the Apocrypha and extra-canonical works; for every work we think was written by Plato or Aristotle, there are multiple imitators (and it's even worse in ancient Chinese where it was simply ordinary literary practice to borrow some antiquity). For many of these works, one cannot speak of how many centuries it took to find the truth, but how many *millennia*.

ELVISNIXON.com said...

Joseph Sobran seemed to conclusively prove as well as can possibly achieved that DeVere is the "real" Bard in his book "Alias Shakespeare"

Here are some pretty fascinating examples:

http://www.sobran.com/oxfordlibrary.shtml

ELVISNIXON.com said...

T Rex (Marc Bolan) admitted that "Little Queenie" by Chuck Berry was the source for "Bang a Gong"- That is why he includes the cryptic line "..meanwhile I'm still thinkin'" in the outro of the 1971 hit

I guess he should have credited Berry's pianist

Anonymous said...

Thursday said...
"Human beings deeply want to find something of the author in their work, and usually there is something of them there.

But Shakespeare is always hiding behind his characters. He is the least self-revealing of authors."

Yeah that's basically the standard 'Shakespeare was universal'trope that "scholars" who are not very good at reading have been repeating for a long time. It's not true though. Shakespeare lampoons the common man. All of his plays except Merry Wives of Windsor center around court life. Shakespeare glorifies feudalism. The idea that this provincial actor would write about this stuff and have that perspective is very incongruent--a point Joe Sobran made very well.

And of course the sonnets are incredibly self revealing--so self revealing that it doesn't make sense why a playwright supposedly still engaged in writing plays would allow them to be published in 1609. Nor does it make sense why the preface speaks of the author in the past tense if the man from stratford died in 1616. But it all makes perfect sense if you assume Oxford was the real author.

It's interesting Steve approaches the question this way because it's not unlike the way oxfordians approach the historical record of the stratford man--basically: has there ever been a great writer who left absolutely no traces that he was a writer at all?

Steve, you should just read Mark Anderson's Shakespeare by another name. It's all there. The evidence is too overwhelming not to agree with Henry James that this is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practiced on a patient world.

Dan Kurt said...

re: "Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare?"

If one thinks "Shakespeare" wrote Shakespeare, one epitomizes the condition of Not Knowing what one thinks one Knows: the state of invincible ignorance, the mindset of the Liberal, the thought processes of politicians from Oakland’s leftist mayor Jean Quan to New York's ( party of convenience ) mayor Michael Bloomberg in Le Affair OWS, etc.

Dan Kurt

Anonymous said...

Steve, bad method--the times have changed too much. If Oxford wrote the plays it would have been strange if he had NOT hidden his identity behind a pen name. Writing for public approval was considered far beneath a man of his station. He would have been held in disgrace had he attached his real name. Lots of court figures of the time published under pen names. One piece of evidence the Oxfordians use is a pamphlet from the time that says just that and that the best among them is Oxford! So, no in modern times there is not a suitable analogy. But in Shakespeare's time, authorship "controversies" were like the sea fish swim in.

Random Pseudonym said...

I think the proper question is "Did 'Shakspere' write 'Shakespeare'?"

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Harper Lee.

ziel said...

A related question I have is there any other author since Socrates about whom so little is known as an author? There are lots of contemporaneous biographical details available about one Wm Shakespeare of Stratford, but nothing that relates to him as an author. Is this common among major authors who were successful in their lifetimes?

James Kabala said...

Oxfordians are (usually) more restrained, but in the days when the Baconian theory was most favored among skeptics, claims were sometimes made that Bacon also wrote Spenser, Marlowe, etc.

Of course there is the claim that Truman Capote really wrote To Kill a Mockingbird instead of Harper Lee, but I believe that that is rarely credited these days. A very similar claim (that the work of a one-hit-wonder female novelist was really written by a prolific literary man) has sometimes been made about Frankenstein - there are those who believe Percy Shelley wrote it instead of Mary.

In the 1980s a well-known (in the music industry) session drummer named Bernard Purdie claimed he had played on early Beatles records instead of Ringo. Alas for him, he specifically claimed he had brought in to sweeten the American recordings of songs already hits in Britain, and it was easy to prove that the British and American recordings were identical.

I believe someone else made similar claims that he had played drums (or maybe bass) on several of the better-known Motown recordings. The real guy had to go get a sworn affidavit from one of the Holland brothers.

Anonymous said...

Jerzy Kosinski and the Painted Bird.

dearieme said...

Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. JFK didn't write JFK. That's all we know and all we need to know.

Anonymous said...

This is related to the perennial question of whether things that were recored long ago actually happened.

Anyone can make up a story that begins, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far away..." but what if they claim, "In the year xxx, so and so did y," is that then proof that it actually happened that way? Well, no, it isn't. However, by any reasonable standard of history there is no reason to doubt that Julius Caesar, Buddha, Jesus, and even Shakespeare are fairly accurately who they are recorded to be, even if that seems dubious based on what is said about them. Before the closet liberals start howling, go back and note that Roman nobility often traced their lineages back to their gods. Does that make it so? I am going with no. However, it certainly doesn't follow that none of the Roman nobility even existed or didn't do the things that they are recorded to have done by their contemporary historians.

Anonymous said...

"Question: Is there general agreement that whoever Shakespeare was, he was one person (excluding minor revision through the ages)."


Sometime in the future, someone will likely try to say that Asimov couldn't possibly have written on all the topics and in all the genres in which he actually did. Because after enough time passes, the unlikely becomes the impossible. If we didn't actually have the damned pyramids in Egypt, they would likely be claimed to have never existed because there is no way for those folks to have built them. Damned irritating that those huge stone edifices actually exist making them much harder to just disbelieve.

Stuff Black People Don't Like said...

Truman Capote wrote "To Kill a Mockingbird" right?

Anonymous said...

Did Virgil write Virgil? Surely the work is what's important and not the details of the life of the writer.

LBD said...

The Earl of Oxford would have been very talented to have written so many of Shakespeare's plays during the twelve years after he died. Actually eight years--although Shakespeare died in 1616 he retired from writing plays about four years before that. Oxford died in 1604, so his posthumous career was just eight years long.

The author of the Earl of Oxford = Shakespeare theory was aptly named Looney.

Aaron in Israel said...

When there's so much empirical evidence to look at - plays written after the supposed author (de Vere) died, etc. - why would you want to focus so much on the prior probabilities rather than on the likelihood function?

That said, it seems that there are always plagiarism scandals going around. One fairly famous book I really liked, The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kozynski [sp?], was vastly better than anything else he wrote. Sure enough, some unknown author accused him of stealing it from him.

So, how much information does that add to the Shakespeare authorship question?

Here's how I'd approach the question a priori: How many Oxfordians are (1) highly familiar with the evidence, and (2) not a crank? (To anticipate an objection at this paleo site: Joseph Sobran, whom I generally admire, fails the second criterion.)

Anonymous said...

The late Joe Sobran wrote a book on
this topic of whether Shakespeare was Shakespeare---ALIAS SHAKESPEARE.
The book is not so much about this topic as about how to think and marshal evidence. It would be a fine supporting text for the education of first year law students.

Anthony said...

Ever since the Revolution there has been a tradition in certain parts of the country that the real author of the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Paine.

Jacob Roberson said...

That "Tupac's not dead" crap was going around his high school when he died, but funny enough, it was a bigger rumor at the other schools in the city. Baffled me for a while.

I guess it felt like, if Tupac was alive, he would be there hanging around with us right? Or our teachers would've told us right? Our teachers still knew him right?

ELK said...

The author of the Shakespearean plays was a Jewish woman. Shakespeare himself was used as a front, a strategem to get her works published.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/was-william-shakespeare-a-jewish-woman-in-disguise-1.246717

Perhaps the best evidence is the quality of the "Shakespearean" oeuvre: What is the likelihood a goyisch mind could have produced such brilliant work?

Anonymous said...

The author of the Shakespearean plays was a Jewish woman.


I fairness, I should point out that John Hudson is probably not Jewish.

Svigor said...

I think some conservative people like the idea of Devere cuz he was an aristocrat, implying the higher-born are the real artists and that a commoner like Shakes couldn't have written something so great.
But it also could be some liberals like the idea because DeQueer was gay.

Personally, I'm thinking Shakespeare was really Shakespearowicz.


That's a hostile spin on Sobran's (and I presume, others') position. The argument is, a commoner is a far less appropriate fit for someone displaying such intimate knowledge of upper-class thinking and culture.

Luke Lea said...

@ Anthony -- who wrote the Declaration of Indendence?

In the first place, Jefferson never claimed originality. He said he was merely summarizing the consensus opinion around him.

That said, prior to Jefferson George Mason wrote that "all men are born equally free and independant [sic], and have certain inherent natural rights,...among which are the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursueing [sic] and obtaining Happiness and Safety."

That kind of resemblance would get you convicted of plagiarism nowadays.

And in the second place, it is a well-documented fact that Benjamin Franklin amended Jefferson's draft, changing the phrase "We hold these truths sacred and eternal. . ." to "We hold these truths to be self-evident. . ."

As Mark Twain remarked, the difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Franklin was a gifted mathematician (among his countless other achievements) and he recognized the value of making human equality a moral axiom of our new republic, not a matter for debate.

Note, iSteve readers: a moral axiom, not an empirical one. Everyone's happiness is equally important and public policy should be designed accordingly.

Svigor said...

Joseph Sobran seemed to conclusively prove as well as can possibly achieved that DeVere is the "real" Bard in his book "Alias Shakespeare"

I don't know from "conclusively"; I simply don't know enough to make that call. All I know is, Sobran always struck me as scrupulously honest, even (especially?) when it was costly. I trust his judgement, and believe he's probably right, but I'm not going to war with anyone over it.

Svigor said...

Question: Is there general agreement that whoever Shakespeare was, he was one person (excluding minor revision through the ages).

Yes, the general agreement is the orthodox position. The Shakespeare controversy is limited to the fringe, if Wikipedia's article is to be believed.

Now, within that fringe, I dunno.

Svigor said...

It is the same reason why hacks like Dickens are famous whilst Spanish writers like Cervantes and Lorca, who produced truly beautiful literature, are almost completely unknown.

You're in touch-and-go territory, then you dropped the "Cervantes is almost completely unknown" turd in the bunch bowl. Bye-bye, plausibility.

Anonymous said...

Definitely Jewish.

Svigor said...

There is in fact no controversy among genuine Shakespeare scholars about the authorship issue

I'll take your word for it. But history is no respecter of "genuine scholars." I know this bites historians in the ass, but that's the truth of it. Want to be in a field where anyone with a brain gives a shit if you're a "genuine scholar"? Don't choose history.

Svigor said...

The whole Shakespeare is a pseudonym meme probably just illustrates what some psychologists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute discovered: that when 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief (in this case, the population of Shakespeare scholars), that belief eventually gets adopted by the majority of the society. Ten percent seems to be the tipping point.

That's interesting. I've been saying something like this for years. It's just intuitive - a choir will follow what a tiny minority, even one member, start singing if they don't have anything they're supposed to be singing. It's human nature. I've long suspected something like this to go a long way toward explaining Ashkenazi power.

Don't have a link or a cite, do you?

Maya said...

" I regard Dostoevsky as vastly superior to Shakespeare, but few except erudites know who he was because there was never any propaganda machine pumping him up as this invincible super-genius of doom."

How are the two even comparable? It's like saying that you regard Mikhail Baryshnikov as vastly superior to Michael Jordan. Superior in what?

But why so sensitive, good sir? Do you feel that you are not being given enough respect and admiration in your daily life due to the lack of recognition of your ancestral culture? Stay strong.

Anonymous said...

Alan Smithee

Anonymous said...

"That's a hostile spin on Sobran's (and I presume, others') position. The argument is, a commoner is a far less appropriate fit for someone displaying such intimate knowledge of upper-class thinking and culture."

That may be true. I think Shakes was maybe a jester in the court who saw and heard everything and then wrote plays inspired by what he saw and heard. Naturally he used some respectable 'bourgeois' identity.

But on the other hand... how could not know who the author was then or for so many yrs? It's like the real writer was hiding in the grassy knoll.

beowulf said...

There is in fact no controversy among genuine Shakespeare scholars about the authorship issue
"genuine Shakespeare scholars", eh? That's kind of like saying there's no controversy among genuine Book of Mormon scholars about its authorship issue.

his background research was superficial. I'd say that his output was consistent with a slapdash education and humble origins but a really quick mind...
Seriously? You believe that? There was no wikipedia or public libraries or universal schooling. A poor man, even with a really quick mind, would likely be as illiterate as the daughters of the historical Shakespeare (As Michael Hart points out, if the Stratfordians are right, then Shakespeare is the only major writer in history to never bother teaching his children how to read).

What's more, Shakespeare was quite knowledgable about an awful lot of people, places and subjects, nothing slapdash about it. Its always seemed apparent to me that Shakespeare (whoever he is) was trained as a lawyer.
No close reader of the plays can fail to be impressed by the number of extraordinarily apt, and usually incidental, references to incidents (sometimes quite minor) of legal procedure of which the dramatist so effortlessly avails himself.
http://www.shakespearefellowship.org/virtualclassroom/Law/law6.htm

syon said...

Anonymous:" It is the same reason why hacks like Dickens are famous whilst Spanish writers like Cervantes and Lorca, who produced truly beautiful literature, are almost completely unknown."

Seriously, man, Cervantes "almost completely unkown?!"I don't know where you went to school, but DON QUIXOTE is one of the most famous and highly regarded literary works of all time;before you post, do a little poking around the scholarship.

Charlie said...

The problem with history is that it doesn't add up. Every person, every event - you can always nitpick and find things that "just don't make sense" and then make an argument from incredulity to the effect that Shakespeare couldn't possibly have written Shakespeare, or whatever. To me that's the real reason to dismiss such arguments - while your line of reasoning is interesting I'm not sure it holds water...suppose that the Big Bopper really had faked his own death, and suppose that it was reasonably difficult to figure this out - who would go to the trouble? So if there was a rash of death-faking you might expect that only the more notorious among the fakers would get uncovered.

But of course, the Oxonian theory was buried about 400 years ago when the Earl of Oxford was so unwise as to actually write some sonnets, which anyone with half an ear for poetry can recognize as crap, and utterly remote from Shakespeare's poetic style.

Anonymous said...

"Seriously, man, Cervantes "almost completely unkown?!"I don't know where you went to school, but DON QUIXOTE is one of the most famous and highly regarded literary works of all time;before you post, do a little poking around the scholarship."

I think he's attacking windmills.

Baloo said...

Maybe he means Corazón Cervantes, who wrote telenovelas. I just made that up.

Crawfurdmuir said...

The great intellectual controversy of the seventeenth century was over who wrote the Corpus Hermeticum, a collection of philosophical and magical works attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, an Egyptian sage who supposedly lived before the time of Moses. So important were these works supposed to be that when Cosimo de Medici acquired a Greek manuscript of them, he ordered his house scholar, Marsilio Ficino, to drop his translation of Plato and begin translating the Hermetica.

The great antiquity of these documents had been assumed since the time of Saint Augustine, and they were significant because they seemed to foreshadow some of the teachings of Christianity. They played a central role in Renaissance Neoplatonism, the major philosophical current of the sixteenth century. A depiction of Hermes is even worked into the pavement of the cathedral of Siena. But In the early seventeenth century, the Calvinist scholar Isaac Casaubon demonstrated that on a textual basis, the date of the Hermetica was no earlier than the first or second centuries A.D.

Casaubon's argument was not immediately accepted. Indeed, such notable figures as Sir Isaac Newton and the Hon. Robert Boyle continued to believe in the veracity and antiquity of the alchemical Hermetica, which were not among the texts examined by Casaubon. The Danish historian and chemist Olaus Borrichius defended the Hermetica in a long controversy against his rival Conringius that went on for much of the late seventeenth century. Finally, the Hermetica were abandoned to occultists, with the lapse of widespread belief in transmutatory alchemy.

The controversy was largely forgotten until the great British scholar Dame Frances Yates brought up its history in her book "Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition." This spawned a great deal of new investigation, which continues to this day, and has shown what a significant role Hermeticism (mistaken though it was) played in the development of early science.

Indeed, there's a tie to Shakespeare and the controversy over the authorship of the plays attributed to him. The subject of Dame Frances's book, Giordano Bruno, spent some time in London, where he was introduced to the court of Elizabeth I and to the circle of Sir Philip Sidney. Instrumental in this was the Italian-born Protestant and naturalized English subject John Florio, who wrote the first Italian-English dictionary and was the source of knowledge of all things Italian for the educated Englishman of the time. Florio's influence on Shakespeare (or whomever wrote the plays) is well documented, and there is even a recent book claiming that Florio was their author:

http://www.amazon.com/John-Florio-Man-Who-Shakespeare/dp/2981035819/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1320442549&sr=8-5

Hermetic and Brunonian allusions can be found in Shakespeare's plays, which show that the plays' author was steeped in Renaissance Neoplatonism - and, whether through Florio, or directly from Bruno (assuming Florio was "Shakespeare"), its intellectual content entered into the popular frame of reference. Prospero in "The Tempest" is an archetypal Renaissance Hermetic and Neoplatonic magus.

Anonymous said...

I regard Dostoevsky as vastly superior to Shakespeare, but few except erudites know who he was because there was never any propaganda machine pumping him up as this invincible super-genius of doom.


Dostoevsky was always an author for nerds. As hard as this is to believe today, Shakespeare was the popular entertainment of his time. His themes - love, comedy, the downfall of hubris, revenge, action, murder and betrayal - could be picked up and used by Hollywood. In fact, they have been picked up and used by Hollywood. The brooding introspection of Dostoevsky lacks that mass appeal.

Whiskey said...

What people don't get about Shakespeare is that he was not Shakespeare when he wrote that stuff. In other words, he was not the most acclaimed and famous author in the Western World.

Shakespeare while alive was a playwright on the make, looking to make coin. He was, basically, Donald E. Westlake (the Hot Rock, Bank Shot, and the Parker series) or Arthur Conan Doyle or Charles Dickens or Wilkie Collins or Stuart Kaminsky or Stephen J. Cannell. A guy looking to make money. So no he did not "reveal himself" because his plays had to appeal to groundlings and high-rollers alike.

The sheer volume, disparate subject matter, popularity, and so on argue for a professional author writing the plays ... TO MAKE MONEY! Not for his amusement or something.

Really, the Earl of Oxford would sit down and write plays instead of the usual aristocratic pursuits of gambling, whoring, drinking, fighting, dueling, and general debauchery? Really?

Alfred said...

A characteristic of English IQ distribution is its relatively broad spread. It has a very significant tail located in the area of brilliance and genius, and probably accounts for as many raw geniuses in absolute numbers as any other recognized group on the planet.

The genius of Shakespeare's works is consistent with him having been an Englishman.

Anonymous said...

It is claimed that the Rolling Stones "pop" songs of the late sixties ("Sitting on a Fence", "Out of Touch", "Connection", "Ride On", most of the Between the Buttons and some of Aftermath album) were ghosted by Graham Gouldman, who wrote many great songs for the Hollies and Herman's Hermits, and later was part of 10cc ("Rubber Bullets", "Wall Street Shuffle").

Everybody knows about the "Autobiography of Malcom X" (Alex Haley). But I can tell you with some authority that almost no prominent or successful person writes his or her own autobiograpy -- one amusing exception being Chuck Berry, who insisted on penning every word of his "Chuck Berry: an Autobiography", rendering it oddly characteristic but nearly unreadable. Professional writers are professional writers for a reason. Writing a book (even a crappy book) is incredibly hard work, and few who expend energy succeeding in another profession are fortunate enough to have the inborn ability or practice time to pull it off.

James Kabala said...

Reginald Caesar: I don't think the case that Livingston wrote "The Night before Christmas" was very convincing. If I recall correctly, Foster based a large part of his anti-Moore argument on the implicit premise that one could not be conservative and a nice guy.

An interesting rebuttal is here:

http://www.common-place.org/vol-01/no-02/moore/

Crawfurdmuir said...

Whiskey wrote:"Really, the Earl of Oxford would sit down and write plays instead of the usual aristocratic pursuits of gambling, whoring, drinking, fighting, dueling, and general debauchery? Really?"

Where did you get your concept of "the usual aristocratic pursuits"? Certainly not from Castiglione, whose much-reprinted and much-translated manual "The Courtier" set forth the skills an aristocrat of the sixteenth century was expected to have.

For males, these included reasonable competence in the skills any junior military officer was expected to possess (riding, fencing, shooting), but also those of a diplomat and of a pleasing companion to one's peers and superiors. The latter were expected of ladies as well. Court etiquette was complicated, and failure to master it was punished by ostracism.

Being a gracious conversationalist was taken for granted. Musical skill - typically on the lute, one of the viols, or the virginalls, which were aristocratic instruments - was prized. At least one was expected to be able to read music well enough to take a part in a madrigal, and the ability to dance well distinguished ladies and gentlemen from bumpkins. A knowledge of the intricacies of genealogy and heraldry was an essential to success. The ability to read and write both in the vulgar tongues and in Latin, the language of the church, the law, and international correspondence, was also an expectation. Elizabeth I knew six languages, including Latin and classical Greek. Being a dab hand at turning out a sonnet was useful, especially for a gentleman in appealing to the ladies. All these skills had to be demonstrated with a seeming carelessness and effortlessness known as "sprezzatura." Not everyone succeeded equally well at this, but all tried.

Whoring, drinking, gambling, and fighting were certainly popular, but anyone with pretensions to noble or chivalric status who had no other interests or pursuits would not have stood a chance at one of the magnificent courts of the late sixteenth century.

Anonymous said...

It's very unlikely that Shakespeare was an aristocrat. The theater was not an occupation for those of noble birth. If you look at other playwrights of the time and even later - Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson, John Webster - they were all from a poor and/or obscure background.

Webster's father was a coach maker, Marlowe's a shoemaker. Johnson's biological father died before Ben was born, but his mother remarried - to a brick layer.

So for Shakespeare to be the the son of a glove maker, as the official history has it, seems perfectly reasonable and consistent. Unless there was some widespread conspiracy back in the 16th century whereby multiple nobles wrote plays while pretending to be commoners, and we should be asking ourselves "Did Marelowe write Marlowe?"

Anonymous said...

Re Dickens vs. Cervantes:

Many people still read Dickens, but how many have actually read Don Quixote?

I'm User Friendly said...

I have it on good authority that Warren Zevon wrote the Eagles' "Desperado" and also wrote a couple of Fleetwood Mac hits, but not sure which ones.

Anonymous said...

The talented and immortal Mr. Flint, must have been Shakespeare as well as Brahms and DaVinci.

Anonymous said...

You'd think that someone who was snookered by William Ayers's fabrication of Obama's life history would show a little more humility when considering the question of historical ghost-authorships...

Difference Maker said...

Crawfurdmuir said...For males, these included reasonable competence in the skills any junior military officer was expected to possess (riding, fencing, shooting), but also those of a diplomat and of a pleasing companion to one's peers and superiors. The latter were expected of ladies as well. Court etiquette was complicated, and failure to master it was punished by ostracism.

Being a gracious conversationalist was taken for granted. Musical skill - typically on the lute, one of the viols, or the virginalls, which were aristocratic instruments - was prized. At least one was expected to be able to read music well enough to take a part in a madrigal, and the ability to dance well distinguished ladies and gentlemen from bumpkins. A knowledge of the intricacies of genealogy and heraldry was an essential to success. The ability to read and write both in the vulgar tongues and in Latin, the language of the church, the law, and international correspondence, was also an expectation. Elizabeth I knew six languages, including Latin and classical Greek. Being a dab hand at turning out a sonnet was useful, especially for a gentleman in appealing to the ladies. All these skills had to be demonstrated with a seeming carelessness and effortlessness known as "sprezzatura." Not everyone succeeded equally well at this, but all tried.


My God, sounds heavenly

Anonymous said...

"A characteristic of English IQ distribution is its relatively broad spread. It has a very significant tail located in the area of brilliance and genius, and probably accounts for as many raw geniuses in absolute numbers as any other recognized group on the planet.

The genius of Shakespeare's works is consistent with him having been an Englishman."

This is seen in science as well. While Newton came from not so humble circumstances, George Green and Oliver Heaviside certainly did. Especially Green's early work on potential theory - alone, without access to a library or continental journals, and with no schooling or learned colleagues - seems pretty near the achievements of Shakespeare to my mind.

Anonymous said...

It certainly seems odd that the greatest literary figure in the history of the English speaking peoples raised two illiterate daughters.

edgy gurl said...

@ Anon

"Many people still read Dickens, but how many have actually read Don Quixote?"

Exactly.

@ User

"I have it on good authority that Warren Zevon wrote the Eagles' "Desperado""

You are no friend of Zevon!

Steve Sailer said...

Maybe he didn't raise them, being busy in London writing Shakespeare's plays. That would seem time consuming.

Anonymous said...

Some people think that much of Moliere's pieces are in fact from Corneille.

In the French theatrical world, Moliere is as big as Shakespeare.

The theory is based on many arguments, not just statistical analysis.

http://corneille-moliere.org/pageshtml/Anglais/shadow.html

http://www.languagehat.com/archives/000824.php

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia article about the Authorship of Shakespeare:

"No letters or signed manuscripts written by Shakespeare survive"


On Moliere, at "http://corneille-moliere.org/pageshtml/Anglais/shadow.html"

"...there are no manuscripts by Molière in existence except around 20 signatures on official documents: no dedication, no letter, not a single note in his handwriting."


There is common points between the two controversies, like doubts about the education or literacy of Shakespeare and Moliere. The main difference is that Moliere's public life is well know.

But even in the French speaking world, the controversy about Shakespeare authorship is much more popular then the one about Moliere.

Anonymous said...

Is that you, Shakespeare?

Is this me?

Anonymous said...

Kael said Mankiewicz was the real 'auteur' of Citizen Kane.

Anonymous said...

"You'd think that someone who was snookered by William Ayers's fabrication of Obama's life history..."

I don't think Ayers wrote DREAMS but Obama is a fabrication created by his handlers.

Obama's greatest achievement was understanding that he needed to make himself useful to Jews. MLK and Oprah understood this too. This is so obvious(given the nature of Jewish power and influence)that I wonder why so many black politicians and leaders didn't figure it out and went out of their way to alienate Jews.

Galtonian said...

Okay, Shakespeare was maybe sort of gay, judging from some of the sonnets and he was obviously a drama club sort of guy. DeVere was also reputed to be gay.
So how about the idea that Shakespeare was perhaps a long time gay lover/companion of DeVere. While he was hanging out with his lover/companion DeVere, and reading books in DeVere's library, Shakespeare learned all he needed to know about the ins and outs of aristocratic life and info about Italy etc.

Steve Sailer said...

Tom Clancy, the supposed author of Tom Clancy's military novels, was never in the military, so how could he learn all that stuff? The real author was, clearly, Audie Murphy.

Reg Cæsar said...

Okay, Shakespeare was maybe sort of gay... --Galtonian

A. L. Rowse was both the queerest of the Shakespeareans and the most Shakespeare-wise of queers. He thought William was a pretty virile guy, probably a rake.

This brings up a related question I've never seen discussed anywhere. WS left no legitimate descendants beyond a single grandchild. But that hardly means no descendants survive at all. He spent an awful lot of time away from his wife in the big city.

Of course, the "actresses" available were all boys, but there were plenty of wenches serving in other capacities.

Ross said...

The problem with the De Vere theory is that De Vere died before about a dozen Shakespeare plays were written. Given that Shakespeare referenced current events* in his plays it isn't as if he could have left a stockpile of plays to be released slowly after his death.

* Macbeth makes a lot of references to the gunpowder plot, which occurred after De Vere's death, for example.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer said...
Tom Clancy, the supposed author of Tom Clancy's military novels, was never in the military, so how could he learn all that stuff? The real author was, clearly, Audie Murphy.

Ha! Tom Clancy doesn't write the Tom Clancy books anymore; he's just a brand name now.

Seriously though, this is why it's such a maddening debate for oxfordians. Steve, you've not gotten into the weeds of the issue at all, and yet you presume to condescendingly dismiss it out of hand. Another anonymous asserted that the question does not even register with real "experts."

ARRRRGH That's ALL the anti-oxfords do: condescend and impute their status. THEY NEVER ADDRESS THE ACTUAL EVIDENCE!

For christssake read the stratford man's will. Read the inscription on his grave. That man did not write Hamlet!

Peter A said...

" That's ALL the anti-oxfords do: condescend and impute their status. THEY NEVER ADDRESS THE ACTUAL EVIDENCE!"

What evidence? All the Oxfordians seem to do is grasp at straws and create complicated explanations when simple ones are more likely. Oxfordians tend to have shockingly low understanding of what Elizabethan life was actually like. In any case, one thing to keep in mind is that Shakespeare's plays were not considered "genius" by his contemporaries. And in fact I would argue his writing is not that much better than his peers, we as a society are suffering from selection bias - Shakespeare's plays have survived so they define what "genius" is supposed to look like just because that is what everyone knows.

beowulf said...

Tom Clancy, the supposed author of Tom Clancy's military novels, was never in the military, so how could he learn all that stuff? The real author was, clearly, Audie Murphy.

1. Young Tom Clancy could read Audie Murphy books (and watch Audie Murphy movies).
2. "Did Tom Clancy write Tom Clancy?" is not the craziest question in world. Hell, even his ghostwriters have ghostwriters.

Many of action writer Tom Clancy's books from the 2000s bear the names of two people on their covers, with Clancy's name in larger print and the other author's name in smaller print. Various books bearing Clancy's name were written by different authors under the same pseudonym.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostwriter

josh said...

I've only spent a few hours looking into this, but I don't understand the level of certainty coming from the "Stratfordians". There is a case against Oxford, but there is also certainly a case against "Shakspeare". There is certainly no historical evidence that makes it an open and shut case.

Could somebody who knows about this address whether Shakspeare would have had to have used source material not yet translated into English.

Colin Laney said...

From Camille Paglia's review of John Lauritsen's "The Man Who Wrote Frankenstein", which argues against Mary Shelley's authorship of that novel:

"Lauritsen assembles an overwhelming case that Mary Shelley, as a badly educated teenager, could not possibly have written the soaring prose of “Frankenstein” (which has her husband's intensity of tone and headlong cadences all over it) and that the so-called manuscript in her hand is simply one example of the clerical work she did for many writers as a copyist. I was stunned to learn about the destruction of records undertaken by Mary for years after Percy's death in 1822 in a boating accident in Italy. Crucial pages covering the weeks when “Frankenstein” was composed were ripped out of a journal. And Percy Shelley's identity as the author seems to have been known in British literary circles, as illustrated by a Knights Quarterly review published in 1824 that Lauritsen reprints in the appendix."

One important fact I learned from Lauritsen's book is that differences in opinion regarding Frankenstein's greatness or its mediocrity seem to depend on whether one has read the 1818 original, or the 1832 edition, which was carelessly edited and rewritten by Mary and her father in order to turn the book into a promotional device for a contemporary stage version of the story. As Lauritsen shows, all of the changes made by Mary to the text are for the worse, without exception.

Steve Sailer said...

The 2nd Earl of Rochester (1647-1680), who was unsuccessfully played by Johnny Depp in the 2004 movie The Libertine, is an example of an aristocratic poet who may or may not have written one or two plays. He certainly had reason to hide his obscene and subversive verse, but I've never heard of him conspiring to set up somebody else as the presumed author.

G Joubert said...

The best theory I've seen is that Christopher Marlowe ghost-wrote much of Shakespeare.

James Kabala said...

I have given up arguing with Oxfordians, because it is like the Hydra - if one argument is killed, they come back with two more. Actually, maybe that's a bad analogy, since it implies they at least acknowledge the first argument was killed - a better one might be the biblical demon that comes back unrepentant with seven comrades more wicked than the original.

I will address the illiteracy question, however. Actually, there is a surviving Susanna Shakespeare signature. (As with her father, Oxfordians claim this doesn't count because the handwriting is below their standards.) Judith Shakespeare did use a mark to sign the only document she is known to have witnessed. Score a point for Oxford, but it is possible she could read but not write (seems strange today buy very common then), and there are documented cases of people known to be literate using marks on occasion.

Henrietta said...

Why is Steve Sailer trying to ignore the best theory: The Shakespeare works were ghostwritten by a Jewish female named Bassano?

Disgenia said...

"Score a point for Oxford, but it is possible she could read but not write (seems strange today buy very common then), and there are documented cases of people known to be literate using marks on occasion."

Psycho-bio theory: The family are dyslexic. Someone else worked as a scribe recording S's thoughts.

somewhat related to the

Editor theory: One person with a flair for drama, a lawyer and a history buff got together to make plays. One of them or yet another person stylistically unified the collaborative effort.

Though I was always partial to the Marlowe theory myself.

gwern said...

China, incidentally, may not have changed very much, see https://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/education/edlife/the-china-conundrum.html?pagewanted=all

Thursday said...

The case of Pseudo-Dionysius is interesting. His writings were immediately challenged as forgeries, but ultimately most people were convinced they were authentic, until much later scholarship confirmed the original skepticism.

Anonymous said...

"Writing a book (even a crappy book) is incredibly hard work, and few who expend energy succeeding in another profession are fortunate enough to have the inborn ability or practice time to pull it off."

This is true (I've tried writing a book) and makes me respect Bill Clinton's abilities (though not political orientation) even more. In spite of having spectacularly succeeded in something that has no relation to writing or to any even remotely contemplative activity whatsoever, he did write his 1,000-page autobiography by hand on big yellow notepads. Of course, besides that he plays a musical instrument.

Mr. Anon said...

"In fact, I just read the other day of how J. Edgar Hoover ordered fingerprints be taken off the purported corpse of Howard Hughes to verify that he had really died and wasn't just trying to evade the IRS."

Howard Hughes died four years after J. Edgar Hoover.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

The talented and immortal Mr. Flint, must have been Shakespeare as well as Brahms and DaVinci."

Hey, I got that one.

Mr. Anon said...

An obvious case would be the book of Mormon. If you are a Mormon, you believe it was written by God (or Gods, or whatever they have) and/or by the Angel Moroni. If you aren't, you believe it was written by Joseph Smith.

The case has been made that Berthold Brecht stole a lot of his work from one of his girlfriends. But since Brecht was such a jerk and nobody likes him - even people who like him don't like him - nobody much cares.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

It is the same reason why Newton is regarded as a greater genius than Leibniz even though the latter was a broader genius and we use Leibniz's notation for integral calculus and not Newton's."

Leibniz can lay equal claim to having invented the calculus. And he may have been a better mathematician than Newton. But Newton essentially invented physics as a quantitative science. That happens to be a greater accomplishment than what Leibniz did.

As for Shakespeare's popularity only being an expression of anglo-saxon hegemony, well, nobody ever forced the Spaniards or Russians to perform Shakespeare's plays.

Anonymous said...

The best theory I've seen is that Christopher Marlowe ghost-wrote much of Shakespeare.



The best theory I've seen is that Shakespeare wrote much of Shakespeare. But for some reason that's crazy talk.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Shakespeare was maybe sort of gay, judging from some of the sonnets


I'm sure that five hundred years from now some people will argue that Heath Ledger was gay - just look at Brokeback Mountain.

ELVISNIXON.com said...

@Aaron in Israel:

Joseph Sobran is a "crank" because you disagree with him?

Even if he was a "crank" how does that ad hominem attack undermine his evidence?

http://www.sobran.com/oxfordlibrary.shtml

I am a Cult, not a Cause. said...

"Writing a book (even a crappy book) is incredibly hard work..."

No, writing well is difficult, and even bad books could be written well.

But just writing any book is easy. Just type whatever shit that comes into your mind.

ironrailsironweights said...

Regarding the Tom Clancy issue:

If the title is Hunt for Green November by Tom Clancy, Tom Clancy wrote it.

If the title is Tom Clancy's Hunt for Green November (note the apostrophe), someone else wrote it, although Clancy most likely came up with the basic plot outline and edited the completed manuscript.

Being a Long Island resident I am compelled to mention the late 1960's soft-core pornographic novel Naked Came the Stranger by "Penelope Ashe" (note the quotation marks). It actually was the brainchild of several reporters at the local newspaper. After agreeing on a very basic plot outline - supposedly no more than a few sentences - each participant wrote a few chapters completely independently from the others. When all the writing was finished the reporters put all the contributions together without any editing and had the work published. All were most surprised when it became a huge best-seller.

Peter

Ash said...

Anonymous wrote: "There is in fact no controversy among genuine Shakespeare scholars about the authorship issue."

Saying that over an over doesn't make it true. There is indeed, and has long been, such a controversy among Shakespeare scholars. Your use of the word "genuine" is an example of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy: "no true Scot... er, SCHOLAR doubts that the man from Stratford wrote the plays".

It is ironic that you are posting as "Anonymous", because apparently there is a film with that very title out now about the Shakespeare controversy. (I just discovered this myself, and haven't seen it; it must not be playing widely.)

Anonymous

Svigor said...

The great intellectual controversy of the seventeenth century was over who wrote the Corpus Hermeticum, a collection of philosophical and magical works attributed to Hermes Trismegistus

This thread just keeps getting weirder and weirder; I was just skimming his Wikipedia page a couple days ago. If someone mentions Zoroaster, I'll know I'm on a bad acid trip.

Svigor said...

Where did you get your concept of "the usual aristocratic pursuits"?

Literacy and writing strike me as aristocratic pursuits.

Is that you, Shakespeare?

Is this me?


Okay, I'm on a bad acid trip. I used the original line last night.

Why is Steve Sailer trying to ignore the best theory: The Shakespeare works were ghostwritten by a Jewish female named Bassano?

LOL; because that unnecessary word, "Jewish," is included every time?

jody said...

in popular music, the opposite situation exists: your favorite pop musician did not write most of their hits, but some people know that, and the actual writers do get credit in the form of cold hard cash.

but no fame. once that song is written and demo'd and signed over, the person who actually wrote it is transported into the obscure oblivion of a credit in some legal text somewhere and the "star" takes full credit for the hit.

with the web, especially youtube, this has gotten kind of strange, because now you can find videos of more than one pop group performing the same exact song. when the music writer shops a song around, various pop musicians may make a demo of it, then decide if they want to buy the song. if they don't, the demo never appears in public - unless somebody uploads it to the web. then you end up with situations like, both kesha and girl's generation singing the same exact song on youtube.

speaking of that, lady gaga would be well advised to hook up with those swedish techno pop writers again. she has fallen way off from all those awesome hits they wrote for her on "The Fame".

instrument players IE what we used to call actual bands, usually wrote their own material, so there was little mystery there most of the time - if a song was a cover, that was sometimes known by even the casual listener, and well known by the fans.

Ivy League Bastard said...

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned MacPherson's "Songs Of Ossian", a faux national epic that was a sensation in its day.

A comparable national epic whose authenticity is contested is the Igor Tale in old Slavonic.

As a very ancient example, the Indus Valley script was thought for about a century to be written language. However, there are recent papers of Michael Witzel and his collaborators, showing fairly convincingly that the script found at Mohenjo-Daro was not a system for recording language. Among other problems, the length and repetition in the texts is not sufficient. Even worse, they find evidence that the script comes from a human sacrifice cult at M-D. These discoveries are embarrassing and politically explosive for the Hindu nationalist movement that uses the Indus Valley civilization as an icon (much like the Zimbabwe ruins or Egyptian pyramids in Afrocentrism).

Anonymous said...

If Shakespeare really did write the plays, where is the evidence that he had access to the libraries needed to learn Klingon?

Ivy League Bastard said...

>>"Leibniz can lay equal claim to having invented the calculus. And he may have been a better mathematician than Newton. But Newton essentially invented physics as a quantitative science. That happens to be a greater accomplishment than what Leibniz did."

Leibniz was a visionary, much more so than Newton. When not busy with calculus, diplomacy, or other interests, he had the insight to advocate the study of topology (analysis situs), as well as logic and computation in the modern sense (ie., computer science, not verbal scholastic debates between philosophers; Leibniz' idea was to render the latter irrelevant through computation). Leibniz did not have the technical power of a Newton or an Euler, and may have lacked the time, to push those ideas forward as far as he did in calculus, but conceptually he was far ahead of his peers, including Newton.

David Davenport said...

... The Anglo-Saxon propaganda machine. It is the same reason why hacks like Dickens are famous whilst Spanish writers like Cervantes and Lorca, who produced truly beautiful literature, are almost completely unknown. ...

You must be the Latino space program enthusiast.

Mexicans to the Moon!

Anonymous said...

"Casaubon's argument was not immediately accepted. Indeed, such notable figures as Sir Isaac Newton and the Hon. Robert Boyle continued to believe in the veracity and antiquity of the alchemical Hermetica, which were not among the texts examined by Casaubon. "

Edmund: Oh god, this place stinks like a pair of armoured trousers after the Hundred Years War! Baldrick, have you been eating dung again?

Percy: (rushes out the living room, dirtied) My Lord! Success!

Edmund: What?

Percy: (drags Edmund into the living room) After literally an hour's ceaseless searching, I have succeeded in creating gold. PURE GOLD!

Edmund: Are you sure?

Percy: Yes, My Lord! Behold! (uncovers the top; their faces get bathed in green light)

Edmund: Percy, it's green.

Percy: That's right, My Lord.

Edmund: Yes, Percy, I don't want to be pedantic or anything, but the colour of gold is gold -- that's why it's called gold. What you have discovered, if it has a name, is some green.

Percy: (stupefied; picks up the green) Oh, Edmund, can it be true? that I hold here, in my mortal hand, a nugget of purest green?

Edmund: Indeed you do, Percy, except, of course, it's not only a nugget as it is more of a splat."

David said...

>Is there general agreement that whoever Shakespeare was, he was one person (excluding minor revision through the ages)[?]<

"He"?

"Shakespeare" was five different women, buster. Three of whom were African.

[/joke]

David said...

>Kael said Mankiewicz was the real 'auteur' of Citizen Kane.<

She was also full of s--t, as conclusively proved by Robert Carringer's devastating analysis of the original scripts and memos.

Kael herself stole much of her viciously dishonest article on "Citizen Kane" from Howard Suber, according to her biographer Brian Kellow in his recently published Pauline Kael, A life in the Dark. The NYT's review of it is here.

Mr. Anon said...

"ironrailsironweights said...

Being a Long Island resident I am compelled to mention the late 1960's soft-core pornographic novel Naked Came the Stranger by "Penelope Ashe" (note the quotation marks)."

What a great story. Thanks for mentioning it - I had never heard of it.

Mr. Anon said...

"Svigor said...

"Where did you get your concept of "the usual aristocratic pursuits"?"

Literacy and writing strike me as aristocratic pursuits."

Actually those are upper middle-class pursuits. In the 16th century, typical aristocratic pursuits were hunting, rogering, soldiering, and toadying royalty.

Anonymous said...

Someone said oxfordians don't understand Elizabethan England too well, making them prone to error regarding the authorship question.

Well, the attitude of that time and place toward homosexuality was basically the same as it is in Iran today. Gay sex could get you the death penalty. Joe Sobran made a convincing case that "Shakespeare's" homosexuality is what the whole cover up turned on.

Even before Oxford became the most popular candidate, there was a general consensus that the Sonnetts were addressed to the earl of South Hampton. Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucree were both dedicated to Southampton and he fits the description of the subject of the sonnets perfectly. When you plug Oxford in as the author, the Sonnets make perfect sense given everything we know about Oxford and his relationship with South Hampton.

Then there are lots of strange things about the Sonnets. In particular, that the author is constantly bemoaning and lamenting the fact that his name will forever be "buried" or other similar metaphors to that effect. "My name be buried where my body is, And live no more, to shame nor me nor you." -Sonnet 72.

Oxford died in 1604. The Sonnets were first published in 1609 as "Shakespeare's Sonnets." The publisher, not the poet, supplied the dedication, in which the poet was praised and spoken of in the past tense. Shakespeare was supposedly writing plays until 1611.

It is incredible that mainstream scholars have feigned good-faith while side stepping the simple issue of why Shakespeare would allow these Sonnets to be published while he was alive, much less still very much engaged in his career.

When the Folio was published in 1623, identifying Shakespeare as the actor from Stratford for the first time, the Earl of Southampton was at the height of his influence and on the threshold between influence and great power.

It's true that Shakespeare wasn't thought of then as he is today, which is exactly why the cover up would not have required a conspiracy. By 1623, there was maybe a vague memory that Venus and Lucree were dedicated to Southampton. The Folio conspicuously lacks the inclusion of those two poems, which, in his day, more than his plays, is what Shakespeare was most famous for. That is now totally forgotten, and it is probably because of the Folio. (The Sonnets were not included in the folio either.)

Perhaps that was the intention of the Folio in the first place; to obviate in a definite way any chance that Shakespeare's non-dramatic poetry, which was all either explicitly or likely addressed to Sothampton, would come back to haunt him. If the man from Stratford was the author no one would suspect the sonnets were addressed to Southampton. (There were two men the Folio was dedicated to, forget who, but they were both allies of South Hampton.)

Whatever the truth is, it seems that what all should be able to agree on is that the sonnets deserve a better explanation than what the so called mainstream scholars have given for them.

morleysafer said...

FirstComment-- per this month's Vanity Fair it's utterly uncontroversial that Jack Kennedy never wrote a thing attributed to him.

By the intellectual-property way: run, do not walk, to Dana Vachon's rockin' twin study in same ish of the Winklevoss Uebermenschen & their manly crusade against King Zuck, with incidental adventures in Tijuana. It's recommended prep for Sailer's imminent spec script, which naturally would require a CGI-duplexed Ryan Gosling, along with alternating Brolins as ancien-regime quant dad probably. This could be the overclass tragedy version of "Sour Grapes"

Aaron in Israel said...

No, I don't call someone a crank because I disagree with him. I call him a crank because he's a crank. Now that I think about it, "crackpot" might have been a more accurate word here. Sobran was a crackpot, like many others on the paleo right, e.g., Murray Rothbard. However, Sobran was an interesting, intelligent, often insightful thinker and an excellent writer.

As I understand it, virtually all the Oxfordians are crackpots. One of the first was even named Looney. QED.

Anonymous said...

@Svigdor

Why is Steve Sailer trying to ignore the best theory: The Shakespeare works were ghostwritten by a Jewish female named Bassano?

LOL; because that unnecessary word, "Jewish," is included every time?


What is so unnecessary about it?

Mr. Anon said...

"Ivy League Bastard said...

Leibniz was a visionary, much more so than Newton. When not busy with calculus, diplomacy, or other interests, he had the insight to advocate the study of topology (analysis situs), as well as logic and computation in the modern sense (ie., computer science, not verbal scholastic debates between philosophers; Leibniz' idea was to render the latter irrelevant through computation). Leibniz did not have the technical power of a Newton or an Euler, and may have lacked the time, to push those ideas forward as far as he did in calculus, but conceptually he was far ahead of his peers, including Newton."

Huh? So, if Leibniz had only done more stuff than Newton did, he would have been the greater genius?

He didn't. He wasn't.

Anonymous said...

Huh? So, if Leibniz had only done more stuff than Newton did, he would have been the greater genius?


He didn't. He wasn't.


Leibniz was at least as great a genius as Newton, and did as much if not more "stuff". He's not widely recognized as such in the English speaking world because he was not English.

Q said...

Newton essentially invented physics as a quantitative science.


Sounds like the claims that "Jews invented genetic engineering".

Nobody "invents" physics, or chemistry, or mathematics, or genetics, or any other broad field of study.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Leibniz was at least as great a genius as Newton, and did as much if not more "stuff"."

He did not essentially invent the field of mechanics nor explain the motions of the planets, both of which Newton did.

Not as great.

ironrailsironweights said...

It may be trivial, but the anecdote about the apple and gravity may be a major reason why Newton is more famous than Liebnitz.

Peter

Mr. Anon said...

"Q said...

Nobody "invents" physics, or chemistry, or mathematics, or genetics, or any other broad field of study."

Well, of course not. That's why I qualified it with "essentially". Newton was the first to rigorously quantify the study of mechanics - using the calculus, which he invented (and yes, Leibniz also independently invented it) - and placed it into a coherent structure which served as the framework of all subsequent physics. That is what I call essentially inventing physics. Very few people who understand physics would disagree with that statement.

Q said...

If "essentially" is the magic word, then Leibniz "essentially invented" computer science, the calculator, and the binary number system.

Steve Sailer said...

A reader writes:

Hello again Steve, I've encountered a quasi-Oxfordian theory concerning the authorship of Japanese literature's greatest masterpiece. (Whether it ever had much traction I don't know, but years have elapsed since I read it, so I presume it has been largely forgotten today.)

This theory posits that Lady Murasaki didn't really write more than a tiny fraction of THE TALE OF GENJI (circa 1012 A.D.?). It insists that whilst she might have contributed a few chapters of her own, for most of the book she was, at best, an amanuensis, the hard yards having been done by (a) her civil-servant dad and (b - this is mildly interesting) Michinaga, who at the time was Japan's shogun or recent or whatever.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujiwara_no_Michinaga

Just as Oxfordians maintain that "the Stratford man" was too vulgar and pig-ignorant to have obtained all the education which Shakespeare's plays reveal, so adherents of the anti-Murasaki theory take the line that no mere woman would've been allowed to write such a big literary project in early-11th-century Japan, that she couldn't have acquired the awareness of high Buddhist scholarship, the Chinese language, and imperial ritual so evident in the book itself. Etc., etc., etc.

Scholar Ivan Morris, in his book THE WORLD OF THE SHINING PRINCE, is so scathing about this theory - which he attributes to subsequent misogynistic Japanese intellectuals - that one wonders how anyone can have believed it. He reckons, nevertheless, that the chick-magnet Michinaga not only provided Lady Murasaki with ink and paper, but tried to hit on her sexually, and was rejected; so there was a personal connection of sorts between politician and author.

Anyway, make of all this what you will ... feel free to mention it on your blog if you want.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Every one is ignoring the theory, the most plausible one, that Shakespeare was ghostwritten by an upper crust Jewish woman in England.

Darfur Miller said...

There are in fact a number of people who have claimed Marilyn Monroe really wasn't dead, along with even more who have claimed the most bizarre (and some fairly plausible) attribution as to who really killed her and what their motive was. No one takes them very seriously, since it is obvious that most are besotted fanboys or people-some with some actual connection to her, however tenuous, like John Miner or Robert Slatzer- whose motivations were probably financial or to get attention.

In the matter of the Beatles, the speculation goes all the way back to their earliest days in the US. For one thing, Ringo Starr "wasn't even the best drummer in the band", let alone the world, and it is probable several session drummers WERE used to provide a "guide track". For another, the breadth and range of skill used in various Beatles songwriting really does point to outside, uncredited help. The problem is that at that time no real, recognized songwriters would have played ball. In fact, Lennon-McCartney DID write songs over that wide range-and the fact that neither alone was nearly as good points to another phenomenon, sometimes two people can do work that is better than the sum of its parts.

Wozniak and Jobs at Apple is a splendid example. Jobs was not an engineer or programmer, but he knew what he wanted, and as it happened what he wanted was what a lot of people with money also wanted. Wozniak was a good electronic technician and assembler programmer but he had and has no idea what makes for success in business.

Going back to pop music, Chuck Berry and Johnnie Johnson are a good case-they wrote thirty songs together and after they ceased collaborating, Berry's only hit song-maybe pretty much his only song-was the lightweight novelty "My Ding-A-Ling". Keith Richards figured it out by accident-he points out (in the excellent film, "Hail Hail Rock And Roll" [maybe the best rock documentary there is])a GUITAR player would never play in keys where there are no open strings by preference. Chuck's tunes are in PIANO keys, Bb,Eb.

Blondie were a different case, since Harry and Stein did everything together in the band and out of it as well, and Clem Burke plays on half of Harry's solo albums as well-but they suck, whereas the Blondie stuff is most all competent pop. And Burke is a superb drummer, to the point where most rock drummers point out correctly that if he'd been in back of male hair farmers rather than bottle blondes (when he's not with Harry, he's backing Nancy Sinatra) his career he'd be considered a drum god up there with Neil Peart and John Bonham.

Not sure about that one.

Mr. Anon said...

"Q said...

If "essentially" is the magic word, then Leibniz "essentially invented" computer science, the calculator, and the binary number system."

Great. He's the 17th century Godfather of Grand Theft Auto and internet porn.

Newton invented physics. Bigger deal.

Jane said...

The theory that Amelia Bassano Lanier was the writer of Shakespeare's plays is based largely on a 2010 article in Reform Judaism magazine. The author interviewed a self-described "cognitive scientist" named John Hudson, who staged A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a satiric allegory of Jewish-Christian conflict in the year 70.

To give you an idea of where Hudson was coming from:

http://www.thevillager.com/villager_204/amidsummersmisunders.html

In Hudson’s interpretation, checked and rechecked and computer re-rechecked by him to 17 decimal places, Bottom = Pyramus = Jesus; Flute = Thisbe = the Church; Titania = Titus Caesar, destroyer of Jerusalem; Oberon = Yahweh (Jehovah), the Hebrew God; Puck = Robin = the Devil; The Wall = the partition between Earth and Heaven; the Little Indian Boy (whom Titania and Oberon fight over) = the Jewish Messiah; the little boy’s Votress mother = the Virgin Mary; and so on. [This is Dr. Bronner soap wrapper territory]

I asked Hudson if he could put his whole theory, his whole thesis, into one sentence, maybe 30 words. Here they are:

“This play is a comic Jewish allegory depicting the death of Jesus and the Church, and Yahwey’s revenge on Titus Caesar for destroying Jerusalem and stealing away the child who represents the Messiah.”


Leaving aside this kookiness, there is no conclusive proof that Lanier was Jewish at all, and even if she was, her Jewish ancestors were distant Italian relations on her father's side.

Lanyer was also a Christian who wrote a collection of devotional poetry in which she both defended women against the curse of Eve, and made several comments which were deeply unflattering to Jews.

Here's an interesting dissection of the Lanyer argument:

http://www.bibliobuffet.com/book-brunch-columns-322/1304-anyone-but-shakespeare-062010

The article glosses over something very significant: Even if her father was a secret Jew, her mother was a Protestant, “Margaret Johnson,” and according to matrilineal Jewish culture, that means she was technically not Jewish and would not have been considered Jewish by contemporary Jews. But that doesn’t matter, since according to an article in Jewish Historical Studies XXXV (1996-98) documents from the archives of the Italian town her family comes from, “shed doubt on the hypothesis that the Bassanos were Jews or of Jewish origin.” Even author David Prior, who’s written about the Bassano family, and is listed twice in the bibliography accompanying Posner’s article, has admitted that “no single piece of surviving evidence proves conclusively that the Bassanos were Jewish or of Jewish origin.” Amelia Bassano also was not, as the article states, the first woman poet to publish in England: Isabella Whitney did so decades before her. Michael Posner and his editor should have checked Hudson's claim—it’s not hard to do.

David Davenport said...

Literacy and writing strike me as aristocratic pursuits."

Actually those are upper middle-class pursuits. In the 16th century, typical aristocratic pursuits were hunting, rogering, soldiering, and toadying royalty.


"Another damned fat book, Mr. Gibbon? Scribble, scribble, scribble, eh, Mr. Gibbon?"

/////////////////////

The Anglo-Saxon propaganda machine. It is the same reason why hacks like Dickens are famous whilst Spanish writers like Cervantes and Lorca, who produced truly beautiful literature, are almost completely unknown.

Are you pressuring your local school board here in the USA to have more Spanish authors and fewer "Anglo Saxon" writers studied in American schools? In other words, an ethnic quota system for literature?

Mr. Anon said...

"David Davenport said...

""Actually those are upper middle-class pursuits. In the 16th century, typical aristocratic pursuits were hunting, rogering, soldiering, and toadying royalty.""

"Another damned fat book, Mr. Gibbon? Scribble, scribble, scribble, eh, Mr. Gibbon?""

Gibbon was a member of the propertied class, but not titled - the sort of person who figured in Jane Austen novels, i.e., the upper middle-class. Perhaps that is your point.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

......The Anglo-Saxon propaganda machine. It is the same reason why hacks like Dickens are famous whilst Spanish writers like Cervantes and Lorca, who produced truly beautiful literature, are almost completely unknown."

Hacks like Dickens helped make England England. Gentlemen litterati like Cervantes helped make Spain Spain.

Svigor said...

No, I don't call someone a crank because I disagree with him. I call him a crank because he's a crank. Now that I think about it, "crackpot" might have been a more accurate word here. Sobran was a crackpot, like many others on the paleo right, e.g., Murray Rothbard. However, Sobran was an interesting, intelligent, often insightful thinker and an excellent writer.

As I understand it, virtually all the Oxfordians are crackpots. One of the first was even named Looney. QED.


Now that was convincing.

Anonymous said...

[i]"basically: has there ever been a great writer who left absolutely no traces that he was a writer at all?"[/i]

Except a rather large book of plays compiled by guys saying "gee, William Shakespeare of Stratford was a terrific writer"-type things, with his picture in it and his name on the first page?

I mean, apart from highly-ambiguous stuff like that, and several dozen other clear and unmistakable indications of authorship, it's a complete mystery as to why people think Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to him by the people who knew him while he was alive.

Remnant said...

Tradition held for a long time that the "Spring and Autumn Annals" were written by Confucius, and that he "compiled" the Book of Poetry and the Book of Documents, although there is little to no evidence that any of those was the case. Their Confucian pedigree helped maintain a high level of veneration of those texts througout Chinese history, and even today many scholars maintain the view that Confucius had a hand in their authorship or editorship.

Steve Sailer said...

I read a biography of Shakespeare once. It was pretty boring because there is a lot of documentary evidence in the legal records that Shakespeare made a fair amount of money and knew various movers and shakers, but there's very little evidence of what he was thinking about when he wrote his plays and poems. As a recent analogy, it's kind of like if some 1970s morning man disk jockey on AM radio became the most revered figure in all of culture a few hundred years from now. We would have lots of evidence that he was well-known in his own time, but most of the surviving evidence would be superficial because nobody took him seriously enough in his own time to ask the kind of deep, probing questions people would come up with hundreds of years later.

Anonymous said...

Tons of ancient stuff is known to not have been written by the stated author:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudepigraph

Lots of stuff in Hollywood is "ghost written". I imagine so are nearly all books supposedly written by celebrities.

I have always wondered about who wrote the Koran, and why this question seems to interest almost nobody. It's obvious why it wouldn't interest fundamentalist Muslims but it doesn't really seem to interest the hardcore anti-Islam types either.

The origins of the Book of Mormon are also somewhat obscure. Presumably it was written by Joseph Smith, but it's not clear what his influences were.

The Kensington Rune Stone is a pretty interesting one. I initially figured it had to be a hoax, since it was found by a Swedish farmer, but there are some surprisingly good arguments for its authenticity based on geology and linguistics.

Evidently the weight of expert opinion is that J.S. Bach did not compose the Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

Russian mathematician Anatoly Fomenko claims that our timelines of history are totally wrong, that classical Greece and Rome never existed, and that all ancient writings are medieval forgeries. He's had a number of very smart people agree with him, including chess champion Garry Kasparov and mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov. While Fomenko is obviously a bit nutty, I suspect he's right that our knowledge of the ancient world has been more heavily corrupted than is generally acknowledged.

How the Beatles will be remembered in the year 3000: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Z2vU8M6CYI

Anonymous said...

In science, there's a "law" that nothing is named after its actual discoverer.

josh said...

I thought this was going to be an interesting thread. It was not. Long though.

Big Bill said...

Anon: "I regard Dostoevsky as vastly superior to Shakespeare, but few except erudites know who he was because there was never any propaganda machine pumping him up as this invincible super-genius of doom. History books are written by the winners, and the poor Spaniards and Russians are not them."

Each of us is embedded in culture.

There is no universal "best" composer or writer or player or musician or speaker.

I expect Russians will always kvell about Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin and Turgeyev, as well they should.

But they do not speak for or to my people. Shakespeare does. Dickens does.

They produce the literature of my people.

There is no "propaganda" involved.

I am sure there is merit to Russian and Spanish writers, but it is the words of my people that keep my people together, that make my people.

Therefore my first duty must be to learning the words of my people and passing them (and the love for them) on to my children.

But do feel free to be an erudite citizen of the world and study everything.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

In science, there's a "law" that nothing is named after its actual discoverer."

No, there isn't.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Russian mathematician Anatoly Fomenko claims that our timelines of history are totally wrong, that classical Greece and Rome never existed, and that all ancient writings are medieval forgeries."

This guy, Hans-Ulrich Niemitz, thinks that the dark ages never happened:

http://www.damninteresting.com/the-phantom-time-hypothesis/

David Davenport said...

Tim Duke of Gloucester, brother of King George III, permitted Mr. Gibbon to present to him the first volume of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. When the second volume of that work appeared, it was quite in order that it should be presented to His Royal Highness in like manner. The prince received the author with much good nature and affability, saying to him, as he laid the quarto on the table,

"Another d-mn'd thick, square book! Always, scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr. Gibbon?",


— Beste, Memorials, p. 68. This devastating remark has been attributed elsewhere to the Duke of Cumberland.

Cf. The Memoirs of the Life of Edward Gibbon, ed. G. B. Hill (1900), p. 127 n.


anecdotes/c18/gibbon

Another attribution controversy ...

Mr. iSteve needs to write a d-mn'd thick, square book of his own.

Anonymous said...

"Warning: Don't believe anything you read here about ? or The Big Bopper."

But hey baby that's a what I like!!

Dutch Boy said...

The problem with using dates of plays to disprove the Oxford thesis is that the dates were assigned assuming Shakespeare was the author.
The sonnets describe their author as an older man, lame, bisexual and in disgrace, i.e., de Vere, not Shakespeare.

Anonymous said...

For one thing, Ringo Starr "wasn't even the best drummer in the band"

I always took that to be a reference to Pete Best. ie Best was the, er, best drummer.

Anonymous said...

typical aristocratic pursuits were hunting, rogering, soldiering, and toadying royalty.

Cool! 3 out of 4 sound good anyway. Where do I sign up?

Q said...

Newton invented physics. Bigger deal.


What happened to "essentially invented" physics, which is not the same thing as actually inventing it?

And it's only a bigger deal if you're a physics geek.

edgy gurl said...

"The sonnets describe their author as an older man, lame, bisexual and in disgrace, i.e., de Vere, not Shakespeare."

I hear an upcoming book is on the very topic of the unpublished-until-now Bisexual and in Disgrace Sonnet Cycle.

A sneak peak revealed the promise of "My mister's bullocks are nothing like the plum."

edgy gurl said...

"It was pretty boring because there is a lot of documentary evidence in the legal records that Shakespeare made a fair amount of money and knew various movers and shakers, but there's very little evidence of what he was thinking about when he wrote his plays and poems."

Shakespeare obviously borrowed heavily from the plots of the plays on the continent. I'd have to look it up but I think Italian playwrights were favorite source material. Sonnets, again, a form lifted from Italians.

Speaking of heavy lifting and assuming you're not dead, I'd suggest a book no more than 300 pages. You might be surprised that I have on occasion read books with as many as 1000 pages; but these tended to be histories rather than some sort of social commentary. For personal views covering a broad range of subject matter, I won't go much over 300, 320 to be precise.

Ivy League Bastard said...

>> "Nobody "invents" physics, or chemistry, or mathematics, or genetics, or any other broad field of study."

Leibniz was the first to grasp the importance of developing combinatorics, topology and (what we now would call) computer science and mathematical logic. He did some research on those fields (including the design and construction of a calculating machine), and consciously advocated them as research programmes very much in the modern sense. You can call that "inventing the field" or not, but I think he had no predecessors in recognizing the potential of those fields as unexplored areas of science.

>"Well, of course not. That's why I qualified it with "essentially". Newton was the first to rigorously quantify the study of mechanics - <

Hmm? Newton did not invent empirical mechanics (Galileo) mathematical modeling thereof (Galileo, Kepler, Hooke, and others), theoretical physics (Kepler), or the inverse square law (others had considered it, Newton did not claim originality).

Newton, the mathematical genius, did synthesize pre-existing discoveries and ideas in mechanics into a coherent general formalism coupled to a super-efficient mathematical apparatus (in which many ideas also were not original with him). This is one of the great accomplishments of all time but it is one of analytical power, more than a triumph of invention or discovery or creativity (of that magnitude). Newton had incredible powers of analysis and concentration and a relentless work ethic, all of which allowed him to go further and faster than others in directions that other people were already pursuing. He accelerated the inevitable discoveries by decades or a century at the most. Leibniz, who with all his genius was a plodding dilletante compared to Newton in mechanics and geometry, developed ideas that were not appreciated for another 300 years, in addition to that calculus thing.


> - and placed it into a coherent structure which served as the framework of all subsequent physics.<

"All subsequent physics" is an exaggeration, but setting that aside, this coherent structure would also have been discovered by a process of ordinary research without the need for a Newton, after the formalism of calculus and differential equations was available. Kepler considered central force laws and the inverse square law was a kind of folk conjecture in Newton's time. The difficulties were partly conceptual but the main issue was the lack of a language for formulating and proving it mathematically. Once that hurdle was flattened so was the playing field. Newton had a gigantic head start as the inventor of the method and also from his long and deliberate delays in sharing his secrets. Once the calculus was out of the bag, it was a given that the problem of orbits would be reconsidered and only a matter of very short time before others could discover the same laws. For the same reason, Newton did not discover Lagrangians because variational calculus was not yet developed, but once it was in place the discovery happened quickly.

Anonymous said...

What about Shostakovich's memoirs?

Mr. Anon said...

"Q said...

What happened to "essentially invented" physics, which is not the same thing as actually inventing it?"

What happened to it when you claimed that Leibniz invented computer science. I explained what I meant.

"And it's only a bigger deal if you're a physics geek."

If you don't understand that physics is more fundamental than computer science, then you don't understand much. Perhaps you are a computer geek.

Q said...

What happened to it when you claimed that Leibniz invented computer science. I explained what I meant.


I never said that Leibniz invented computer science. In response to your claims that Newton variously "essentially invented" and "invented" physics, I sarcastically remarked that Leibniz "essentially invented" computer science.

You really need to stop taking yourself so bloody seriously all the time.

Mr. Anon said...

"Q said...

You really need to stop taking yourself so bloody seriously all the time."

What have you been doing, oh Leibniz' bulldog?

You should try being right sometime.

Charlotte said...

My English teacher nephew thinks a man named DeVere wrote the plays, or at least many of them. Said nephew is a serious Shakespearian; For the kid's birthday, my brother (his dad), who is a master carpenter, carved a wood plaque with one of the plays (Midsummer Night's Dream, I think) etched into it--it's about 6 x 6 as I recall and hangs over their home hallway.

Charlotte said...

"Considerable controversy once surrounded the works of Jerzy Kosinski, with some arguing that he plagiarised from obscure Polish texts, and others claiming the Kosinski's editorial assistants pretty much wrote his books for him. Rather than resolving these claims, I think most people just ran out of interest in his work."

I was traumatized by that damn "Painted Bird" book. It was the psychological blueprint for gentile-guilt. Made you think that gentile peasants were the most vile creatures in the world, tormenting thoughtful, sensitive Jewish children. I finished that book thinking Jews were a superior species, at least in some ways, because you identify so strongly with the child. Thats how mind-control works.
When it was found that Kosinski actually spent WWII with his parents (in the book they had handed him over to some sketchy gentiles in desperation), had passed as gentile most of the time, and other times was sheltered by gentiles, his reputation plummeted. While he defensively insisted that he had presented his book as an art form and acknowledged the assistance of editors and English translators, he had presented the tale as his autobiography. In fact, some of the Polish gentiles who had sheltered Kosinski and done him no harm, were portrayed as abusers. This is what infuriated Poles who read it--Kosinski made it seem that they hated him because he told the truth about him. As it turned out, it was because he lied about them. I guess it's a relief that he didn't suffer those torments after all, but there is nothing more soul-destroying than a lie, especially slander.
Still, the Kosinski tale is still an interesting one of life imitating art. People familiar with him said he seemed to be hollow at the core, denying his "Jewishness" yet making a mint out of it. When he committed suicide he made sure he succeeded, employing the method outlined by a notorious expert on the subject.

edgy gurl said...

"...tormenting thoughtful, sensitive Jewish children. I finished that book thinking Jews were a superior species, at least in some ways, because you identify so strongly with the child. Thats how mind-control works."

Obviously about age 13 those gentle geniuses transform into edgy, shrewd adults who take no prisoners.

My real reason for selecting this part of your comment, however, is that much of children's literature emphasizes the special child with the special gift whether it be magical powers or genius level ability of some sort. I'm sure it goes a long way towards impressing upon the child reader that that sort of behavior/ability is worthy of emulating. I'm wondering as well if it doesn't make gentle snobs out of children who take the lesson to heart. Are we actually creating egotistical brats who capitalize on what may be no more than slightly better than average performance in some academic endeavor? Is this a misguided child rearing strategy that has some unexpected and mostly unexamined negative consequences for those kids and society?

Anonymous said...

Conrad Bibby 11/4/11 8:49 AM said: "In fact, I just read the other day of how J. Edgar Hoover ordered fingerprints be taken off the purported corpse of Howard Hughes to verify that he had really died and wasn't just trying to evade the IRS."

Really? Maybe somebody should have been fingerprinting that JEH, since the real J Edgar Hoover (d. May 2, 1972) predeceased Howard Hughes (d. April 5, 1976).