Another Bombshell — The New Book on ‘The Tempest’ by Stritmatter and Kositsky Demolishes the Old Stratfordian Arguments

A copy of the long-awaited new work by Roger A. Stritmatter and Lynne Kositsky — On the Date, Sources and Design of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ – recently arrived and, as we anticipated, it’s another blockbuster bombshell of evidence and cogent argument by which the foundations of traditional Shakespearean biography are destined to be torn asunder. Put it up on your shelf alongside The Shakespeare Guide to Italy by the late Richard Paul Roe and you will have ten times the information needed to know for certain that William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon was not the great poet-dramatist.
Tempest Book

The wildly incorrect dating of The Tempest to 1611 is among the foremost arguments that Stratfordians use against Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford as the author, given his recorded death of 24 June 1604. This line of attack involves much sneering, ridiculing and joking about how Oxford must have written this play from the grave. Well, let’s get this work from Stritmatter and Kositsky into every high school, every college and university, and see if the teachers and professors (of English, Drama and History) can deal with it fairly and even … hopefully … expand their perspectives to allow for a shift of view … to be able to change their minds.

In their introduction the authors write with the calm, inner confidence of explorers who have traveled throughout this territory and know every inch of its landscape:

“This book challenges a longstanding and deeply ingrained belief in Shakespearean studies that The Tempest – long supposed to be Shakespeare’s last play – was not written until 1611. In the course of investigating this proposition, which has not received the critical inquiry it deserves, a number of subsidiary and closely related interpretative puzzles come sharply into focus. These include the play’s sources of New World imagery; its festival symbolism and structure; its relationship to William Strachey’s True Repertory account of the 1609 Bermuda wreck of the Sea Venture (not published until 1625); and ultimately the tangled history of how and why scholars have for so long misunderstood these matters … Our book hopes to explore new vistas in Tempest scholarship… ”

William S. Niederkorn, formerly an editor at The New York Times and now writing criticism for The Brooklyn Rail, has contributed a fine introduction — although I must add that “Prospero’s exit” is, in my view, a late addition to the play by Oxford, written between 1601 and 1603, when he had agreed to an obliteration of his identity as Shakespeare. (See editor Bill Boyle’s take on it in A Poet’s Rage, his new collection of Oxfordian essays, where he compares Prospero’s epilogue with Sonnet 120.) Meanwhile we can certainly agree with Niederkorn that the reverberations from this Stritmatter-Kositsky book “should be seismic for Shakespeare scholars.”

(And on a more personal level, I would like to congratulate Roger and Lynne for their determination and hard work over the past several years, enabling them to produce a landmark publication. Bravo!)

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