So “Shakespeare” Wrote for the Page as well as the Stage? Well, then, Who was “Shakespeare”?

     First Folio - 1623

First Folio – 1623

Wandering through the web the other day, I paused to read something in “ Shakespeare” under a heading about theater in Shakespeare’s time.  “It’s a sad fact that today we normally study Shakespeare’s plays out of a book,” the writer explained, “but it’s important to remember that the Bard wasn’t writing for today’s literary audience; he was writing for the masses, many of whom couldn’t read or write.”

Then, later, I came upon the Amazon site for the book Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist by Lukas Erne, now in a new edition after ten years; and the blurb explained that this “groundbreaking study argues that Shakespeare, apart from being a playwright who wrote theatrical texts for the stage, was also a literary dramatist who produced reading texts for the page.”

Hmmm … So which was it?

It seems to me that we have an example, here, of how the world of Shakespearean study is inevitably changing and almost imperceptibly moving toward recognizing Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford as the true author of the great works.  In that view, the seeming contradiction presented above is explained logically by realizing that Oxford — during the 1590s, and up to his death in 1604 — was a virtual recluse busily rewriting and revising his stage works.  Many of those plays were being performed, but at the same time he was transforming them into masterpieces of dramatic literature, for readers of his own time and in the future.

Otherwise, let’s face it – work being done by scholars such as Lukas Erne can only threaten the traditional conception of the busy dramatist turning out play after play with the only objective being to have it ready for actors to perform on the stage.  In the first place, that fellow of the orthodox view had no time to produce “reading texts for the page.”

“Examining the evidence from early published playbooks, Erne argues that Shakespeare wrote many of his plays with a readership in mind and that these ‘literary’ texts would have been abridged for the stage because they were too long for performance.”

Oh, come on, please!  That statement has it entirely backwards!  Sure, that may have been part of the way it worked if Oxford was the playwright; but the Stratford man would never have written a literary text that would have to be “abridged for the stage”!   Remember how he was said to be “indifferent” to the appearances of his plays in print?

But Lukas Erne is surely on the right track.  And works like Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist, first published in 2003, will follow the track right to the Earl of Oxford.

I encourage readers of this blog to check out the various “reviews” on Amazon, many with clear recognition that our view of the author and his work must now change.  The scholars must now bend with the winds of that change.  Bend or break…

It would also be a good idea to get hold of the new edition, with an added 10,000-word preface that “reviews and intervenes in the controversy that the book has triggered.”

Yes indeed!

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