“Anonymous” Triggering the Great Shakespeare War! Shots Fired from the Professor! The Director is Firing Back!

Well, now, the Great Bard War is shaping up fast!  On one side is director Roland Emmerich, whose upcoming movie ANONYMOUS (Oct 28) is triggering attacks from behind the barricades of tradition, with Professor James Shapiro on the attack in this morning’s New York Times on the Op Ed page.

Hank Whittemore and Roland Emmerich

These are photos of yours truly with each of these fellows, on the eve of what I now predict will be a huge “game changer” when it comes to our perceptions of Shakespeare and the Elizabethan age … as students all over the world rush to corner their teachers and professors, demanding to know what they haven’t been told about Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford and the relationship of his life and the works of Shakespeare — and, folks, there’s a real and specific relationship, a factual one, right on the record … which has been kept from students and even from teachers and scholars!

Look forward to this blog answering Shapiro point by point…


Hank Whittemore and James Shapiro

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m excited Hank!!

    • Right on, Gary, and you’re part of this, too! Cheers to you.

  2. I’m puzzled over Shapiro’s alarm that the film threatens to limit the interpretation of the plays to mere propaganda. Scholars of his generation have been reducing virtually all artistic expression to mere politics for decades.

    • Good point. I think he’s referring to the idea that “Shakespeare” would have written plays for some political purpose (propaganda) as opposed to writing them out of sheer joyful creativity (along with a big eye to the box office); and saying that this somehow limits or diminishes our ability to enjoy and fully appreciate the plays. Well, for starters, he would have to say the same about so much of the writing that came out of the Depression or WWII and so on — what would Clifford Odets and Arthur Miller say about this? Shapiro and Stratfordians generally would like to remove “Shakespeare” from the time and place and circumstances that shaped him, his ideas, his motives, his convictions, his purposes — in this case, living in an island nation under constant threat of attack from without and of civil and religious strife from within. But here is “Shakespeare” bringing the royal history of England to life on stage, a great panorama, with emphasis on kingship, succession, the nature of honor, loyalty, integrity, etc. There has been an assumption that an artist who is being specific is somehow being less than universal; not so. In any case, it becomes clear that “Shakespeare” was using different times, and different places, as mirrors of his own time and place; his players were “the abstract and brief chronicles of the time,” even while living for all time. Thanks for the comment.

      • Hank:

        I quite agree, and you make it abundantly clear that what frightens the Stratfordians most is not the sheer tonnage of critical revision that Oxfordian authorship would demand, but instead the limitations imposed by the localizing of the works in a specific time, place, and author–one whose prickly personality threatens the agreeably flexible persona of “Gentle Will”!

  3. Once more unto the breach, dear Hank, once more!

    I am counting down the days until the release of Anonymous!

    • Hey, Chris, thanks! Always good to hear your voice that carries such passion to match your great talent. All best from Hank

  4. Gentelman: I have not seen but a couple of trailers so far. Is it possible that the movie goes too far in humiliating the image of “our” Shakespeare? To open up inquiry is a force to be used with delicacy. A whole world of attachment preceeded. I do this, incorrectly, too often to not forget the consequences.

    • You do have a point. Speaking for myself, I have never felt the need to ridicule Will of Stratford or to give all the reasons against his authorship. We shall see the effects soon enough. I do hope the emphasis will be on Edward de Vere and how his life provides the biographical underpinnings; but here we are. Thanks for the reminder, and the warning. Meanwhile, to the movie — and let us know your thoughts after seeing it.

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