• There is a new movie that purports to be about William Shakespeare. Its title is “Anonymous” and its premise is that the immortal plays of the Bard were not written by William Shakespeare, an actor and the son of a Warwickshire glove-maker, but rather by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.
    • The whole thing makes me quiver with indignation and here’s why: The real story, the story of the greatest genius the world has ever known, is a riveting one — a much better and more moving story than any imagined conspiracy.
    •  I am what is called a Bardolator. I worship at the shrine of William Shakespeare. The framed picture over my desk is a poster-size reproduction of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays. I think I have read every word he ever wrote, and I own 40-50 books about Shakespeare.

      For many, the question of who was the “real” Shakespeare is not very important. It is only important that someone wrote these magnificent works.

      My own Shakespeare is the one imagined by Jorge Luis Borges in his parable, “Everything and Nothing” [From Jorge Luis Borges Labyrinths (Penguin, 2000) Trans. J. E. Irby]:

      There was no one in him; behind his face (which even through the bad paintings of those times resembles no other) and his words, which were copious, fantastic and stormy, there was only a bit of coldness, a dream dreamt by no one. At first he thought that all people were like him, but the astonishment of a friend to whom he had begun to speak of this emptiness showed him his error and made him feel always that an individual should not differ in outward appearance. Once he thought that in books he would find a cure for his ill and thus he learned the small Latin and less Greek a contemporary would speak of;

      His histrionic tasks brought him a singular satisfaction, perhaps the first he had ever known; but once the last verse had been acclaimed and the last dead man withdrawn from the stage, the hated flavour of unreality returned to him. He ceased to be Ferrex or Tamberlane and became no one again.

       

      No one has ever been so many men as this man who like the Egyptian Proteus could exhaust all the guises of reality

      For twenty years he persisted in that controlled hallucination, but one morning he was suddenly gripped by the tedium and the terror of being so many kings who die by the sword and so many suffering lovers who converge, diverge and melodiously expire. That very day he arranged to sell his theatre. Within a week he had returned to his native village,

      History adds that before or after dying he found himself in the presence of God and told Him: ‘I who have been so many men in vain want to be one and myself.’ The voice of the Lord answered from a whirlwind: ‘Neither am I anyone; I have dreamt the world as you dreamt your work, my Shakespeare, and among the forms in my dream are you, who like myself are many and no one.

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