Hillary Rodham Clinton on Shakespeare — “I’m Curious to See Who Would Show Up”

New York Times: “You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?”

Hillary Clinton: “I’d choose to have one guest for a long dinner: William Shakespeare. I’m curious to see who would show up and what he really wrote.”

That was the former secretary of state’s answer to the “By the Book” editors at the New York Times today, 11 June 2014, while promoting her new book Hard Choices.

Full interview online is here:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/06/15/books/review/hillary-rodham-clinton-by-the-book.html?_r=0&referrer

(Thanks to Lee Durkee for calling our attention to this on Facebook.)

I call this progress!

Can you imagine Edward de Vere showing up for dinner? And conversing with Hillary and Bill?

I know some delicate questions they might ask him…

Justice Stevens Slips One Under the Radar — Regarding “Shakespeare”

John Paul Stevens, the former Supreme Court justice, is an Oxfordian — one who believes that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) used “William Shakespeare” as a pen name from 1593 onward; and in the Book Review of the New York Times last Sunday, April 6, where he was interviewed for the By the Book page, he must have had a twinkle in his eye during a couple of his replies:

John Paul Stevens

John Paul Stevens

Whom do you consider your literary heroes?

“The author of the plays attributed to William Shakespeare …”

You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?

“Samuel Clemens, Charles Dickens and the author of the Shakespeare canon…”

Well, now, the interviewer might have interrupted him to ask, “And who was that author?”

They went to the trouble of making the two lines, to make a space for the author's name, but then they left the space blank...

They went to the trouble of making the two lines, to make the usual space for the author’s name, but then they left the space blank…

In any case, Justice Stevens has given the rest of us (Oxfordians) a fine way of referring to Edward de Vere without getting caught on the radar screen.

... like the name in this space, in 1613, with initials S. P. for Samuel Page...

… like the name in this space, in 1613, with initials S. P. for Samuel Page…

And maybe it’ll catch on:

Who’s your favorite poet?

“Oh, well, I like the author of Shake-speares Sonnets, you know, the real writer, whose name should have gone between those parallel lines…”

Answering Shapiro … A Reply to the Professor’s Op-Ed Column in the NY Times Part 1

In the New York Times of Monday October 17, 2011, on the Op Ed page, appeared a column by James Shapiro, a professor of English at Columbia University, author of Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?  The constraints of time and blog compel me to reply in brief segments, of which this is the first:

With Professor Shapiro, who is signing a copy of "Contested Will" for me

SHAPIRO:  “ROLAND EMMERICH’S film ‘Anonymous,’ which opens next week, ‘presents a compelling portrait of Edward de Vere as the true author of Shakespeare’s plays.’  That’s according to the lesson plans that Sony Pictures has been distributing to literature and history teachers in the hope of convincing students that Shakespeare was a fraud.  A documentary by First Folio Pictures (of which Mr. Emmerich is president) will also be part of this campaign.   “So much for ‘Hey, it’s just a movie!’”

WHITTEMORE:  Right – it’s not just a movie, it’s a game changer.  This particular film holds the potential to turn the study of Shakespeare and the Elizabethan age inside-out.  For one thing, it will substantially alter Professor Shapiro’s classroom world, especially when students view the documentary film (“Last Will and Testament”) and demand to know why they’ve never been told any of this stuff.

(I admit that saying that Shakespeare was a “fraud” is catchy but misleading.  In the real world of Oxfordian research “Shakespeare” is a pen name, a pseudonym.  The only fraud, if you will, is the misattribution of authorship to William Shakspere of Stratford upon Avon.  The true author of the “Shakespeare” works — Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, using a pen name — was every bit the genius we know that “Shakespeare” was.   They were one and the same man.  Moreover, Oxford brought the Renaissance into England – and yes, that’s a fact.)

To call the movie + documentary film part of a “campaign” is an attempt to cast suspicion on the project — conveniently forgetting that the whole Shakespeare industry, based on the Stratford man, is part of a “campaign” that’s been carried on for more than two centuries … a campaign that has also blocked all attempts to bring the Authorship Question to the attention of students, teachers and members of the general public.

SHAPIRO:  “The case for Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, dates from 1920, when J. Thomas Looney, an English writer who loathed democracy and modernity, argued — ”

John Thomas Looney (1870-1944)

WHITTEMORE:  Whoa, now, good sir.  We learned that trick on the first day of journalism class.  You could start with “Hubert Humphrey, a brilliant man, today announced he is running for president” or, rather, “Hubert Humphrey, once a pig farmer, today announced he is running for president” – and so on.  Loathed democracy and modernity?  Well … no, no, I refuse … no, I am not going to stoop to the position of defending that unassuming British schoolmaster who wrote “Shakespeare” Identified to describe his remarkable feat of literary detection.  I’m not going to allow my attention to be diverted from the message to the messenger.  That was the trick of Contested Will — trying to tarnish brilliant anti-Stratfordians such as Helen Keller, Sigmund Freud and Mark Twain — and, sadly enough, it worked all too well for those readers who had no other information.

SHAPIRO:  “ — that only a worldly nobleman could have created such works of genius; Shakespeare, a glover’s son and money-lender, could never have done so.”

WHITTEMORE:  No, Professor, not so.  That is not what Looney argued and it’s not what any of us argue.  We look at the plain facts of life in London during that time; and we also look at what’s actually in the Shakespeare works – such as, to name two items, the author’s intimate knowledge of Italy and his use of Greek sources, both of which have been denied to Shakespeare by traditional scholars because (1) the Stratford man never went to Italy, as the Earl of Oxford did, and (2) those Greek sources were unavailable in England except in private libraries such as that of William Cecil Lord Burghley, who was first Oxford’s guardian and then his father-in-law.   (In fact, that may have been the only library with such source material.)  So, no – the argument has nothing to do with what you suggest, which, simply, is that Looney must have been a snob … and the rest of us, too.  No, that misstatement is just another attack on the messenger, just another attempt to divert attention from the message.

(Dear Reader, to tell you the truth, I don’t really enjoy arguing against false charges.  I’d much rather spend my time on the positive, that is, on reasons to conclude that Oxford wrote the Shakespeare works.  But the imminent arrival of Anonymous has triggered a full-scale attack, so we’ll continue our reply to the professor in upcoming blogs.)

A Sharply Critical Review of Stephen Greenblatt’s New Book by William Niederkorn

I’d like to recommend a review by William S. Niederkorn, formerly of the New York Times, in the current Brooklyn Rail – Critical Perspectives on Arts, Politics, and Culture.

William Niederkorn

He reviews Shakespeare’s Freedom (a series of lectures) the latest book from Harvard professor Stephen Greenblatt, whom he calls “The Bard’s Evangelist.”

Greenblatt’s biographical fantasy Will in the World (2004) was a bestseller despite the fact that it demonstrated (yet again) the lack of evidence that William of Stratford could even write, much less create plays such as Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Richard III, Richard II, The Merchant of Venice, etc., etc.

My only question is whether, deep down, Professor Greenblatt actually believes the things he conjectures about the man who was Shakespeare.

"Shakespeare's Freedom" by Stephen Greenblatt

For example, in the “biography” mentioned above he turns to the question of how in blazes the newly arrived actor from Warwickshire came to write seventeen private sonnets urging the seventeen-year-old Earl of Southampton to hurry up and marry and have a child to continue his bloodline … not to mention how the actor-poet could have had the courage (and sheer madness) to lecture and even scold the earl for refusing to obey — “Murderous shame! … Profitless usurer!” — and finally to beg him to beget a child in the most personal way:  “Make thee another self for love of me.”

The circumstance in the early 1590’s was that Queen Elizabeth’s chief minister William Cecil Lord Burghley was pressuring Southampton, a royal ward in his custody, to marry his own granddaughter, the fifteen-year-old Lady Elizabeth Vere, daughter [of record] of Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford … who, according to the ever-growing evidence, was the true “Shakespeare.”

Stephen Greenblatt

It is possible,” Greenblatt wrote, in effect warning us he was about to take a wild and totally unsupported guess, “that some one, either in the circle of Burghley or in the circle of Southampton’s mother, had taken note of the fact that the young earl was excited by the talents or by the person of an actor who was also a promising poet.”

How could the professor write such stuff?

“Whoever noticed this excitement – and a wealthy nobleman’s slightest inclinations would have been carefully watched – might well have had the clever idea of commissioning the poet to try his hand at persuading the narcissistic, effeminate young earl to marry.  Such a commission would help to account for the first seventeen of the extraordinary sequence of 154 sonnets…”

Sir George Greenwood

Let’s call upon Sir George Greenwood, whose 1908 book The Shakespeare Problem Restated still stands as a classic in the anti-Stratfordian world.  Oh, how I’d love to see a debate between Greenblatt and Greenwood on the authorship question; I have no doubt that the latter would win hands down.

“The idea that Will Shakspere, the young provincial actor,” Sir George wrote,  “was writing a succession of impassioned odes to the young Earl of Southampton, urging him to marry at once and become a father ‘for love of me’ appears to me, in the absence of anything like cogent evidence to that effect, simply preposterous.”

He was right.  And if he’d heard Greenblatt’s suggestion that Shakspere of Stratford might have been “commissioned” to write the sonnets urging Southampton to marry and procreate, he would have thought it even more preposterous!

“In Shakespeare’s Freedom,” Niederkorn writes, “Greenblatt is careful to avoid authorship issues and the sticky problems that he and a considerable majority of Shakespeare professors refuse to face as they ridicule the subject and preclude it from academic study.”

Among those problems, he notes, is the “vexing question” of how Shakespeare escaped punishment for his play Richard II, which the Queen herself knew had been used as propaganda for the Essex Rebellion of February 8, 1601, whose leaders (Essex and Southampton) were accused and found guilty of high treason.

Niederkorn’s final lines in the review amount to a direct hit against the “scholarship” of Professor Greenblatt, who, he reminds us, has equated doubts about the authorship to “claims that the Holocaust did not occur.”

I won’t steal Niederkorn’s thunder by repeating his final lines, but I will take this opportunity to commend him for having the courage to raise his voice amid the crowd and to speak the truth that’s finally coming to light — the truth that “Shakespeare” was not, after all, the man named William Shakspere of Stratford.

Myth vs. Reality: What do William Shakespeare and Tiger Woods Have in Common?

Frank Rich

An observation by Frank Rich in today’s New York Times (Sunday December 20, 2009) made me think of why most of the world has had such a tough time considering the possibility that Will Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon was not, after all, the author of the works attributed to the printed name “William Shakespeare.”

Even when we know somewhere deep in our bones that some magnificent myth simply cannot stand up to scrutiny, we go right on tolerating and even mightily defending it.  We go right on, seemingly oblivious to the great gap between a beloved popular belief and what must be the quite different reality behind it.  Such is the case, I believe with the gap between our traditional image of Shakespeare the man and the real person who became the world’s greatest writer.

In his essay in the Sunday Opinion page, Rich had occasion to bring up the Tiger Woods saga:

“What makes the golfing superstar’s tale compelling, after all, is not that he’s another celebrity in trouble or another fallen athletic “role model” in a decade lousy with them.  His scandal has nothing to tell us about race, and nothing new to say about hypocrisy.  The conflict between Tiger’s picture-perfect family life and his marathon womanizing is the oldest of morality tales.

“What’s striking instead is the exceptional, Enron-sized gap between this golfer’s public image as a paragon of businesslike discipline and focus and the maniacally reckless life we now know he led.  What’s equally striking, if not shocking, is that the American establishment and news media — all of it, not just golf writers or celebrity tabloids — fell for the Woods myth as hard as any fan and actively helped sustain and enhance it. People wanted to believe what they wanted to believe…”

And this certainly has been true of the virtually universal belief in the myth of the Stratford man as “Shakespeare,” with English and Drama scholars of the academic establishment (instead of the American establishment and news media) actively helping to sustain and enhance it.

I admit that if I’d had the occasion to bet on Tiger’s reality, I’d have taken the side of the “role model” image that we now know was a false one.  The image that “Shakespeare” attended only grammar school at best, that he never traveled to Italy, that he wrote strictly for the box office, that his detailed knowledge and seemingly firsthand experience (which fills entire walls of library shelves) had been acquired by some miracle — at one time in my life, I would have bet on the side of that image, too.  (Too bad Will of Stratford left no voice mail messages behind!)

Now, about that popular myth of the Virgin Queen…

Published in: Uncategorized on December 20, 2009 at 8:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: