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Authorship Evidence: Shakespeare Beyond Doubt

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    • Here begins a series of posts on the new book Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (2013) from a cadre of Shakespeare scholars purporting to demonstrate that the man from Stratford, and only him, could have been the primary author of the Shakespeare works.
    • So it looks now that we’re moving into arguments by evidence, which is where the question should be examined.
    • The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt has some commonality to the U.S. Declaration of Independence in the 18th century. Then the American scientist, statesman, and diplomatic leader Benjamin Franklin, who was in France seeking support for the American cause, was demonized by the then propaganda as a “traitor to his king”, the “dean of all charlatans,” who “deceived the good with his white hairs, and fools with his spectacles”. It kind of makes it seem like he was a part of some feeble-minded conspiracy than one of many individuals that disagreed with a group with great power and self-claimed ‘authority’.
    • One response to this argument would be: On what basis are the mainstream Shakespeare scholars ‘authorities’ on the authorship question? There have been doubters who have spent 20 years or more on the authorship question, or more specifically, on just one aspect of this question. Have any of the mainstream scholars researched the authorship question for that length of time?
    • More recently, on the mainstream or establishment side of the debate, there is the emphasis on not questioning any approved ‘authority’ on the topic. For instance, Paul Edmondson of the SBT wrote:  “There is the loaded assumption that even though one may lack the necessary knowledge and expertise, it is always acceptable to challenge or contradict a knowledgeable and expert authority. It is not.
    • We hope also that we are finally moving beyond the name calling, slanders, and insinuations that ‘doubters’ are  ‘Holocaust deniers’, vampires, psychologically aberrant, mentally deficient, etc. Why would anyone have implied such a characteristic to so many high-achieving intellectuals like Henry James, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mortimer Adler, Harry Blackmun, leading Shakespearean actors such as Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance, and some modern authors on this topic like Peter Usher, Ph.D, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, Peter Sturrock, Ph.D, a Stanford astrophysicist, and Barry Clarke, a writer of logic puzzles for MENSA? These are not people who should be in strait-jackets and locked in dark rooms, just because, like Galileo, they “looked through the telescope”!
    • We now find that both sides of the dispute are in agreement that ‘the authorship question’ is important. Professor Shapiro lamented the lack of scholarly interest in the topic; the stylometric analysts Elliott and Valenza agreed, the leaders of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust now say it’s important, and now also many other scholars supporting them say it’s important. So, from any Shakespeare enthusiast, we shouldn’t hear “it’s [the authorship question] not important” or “it doesn’t matter who wrote them”. Now, more Shakespeare enthusiasts, are likely to become at least somewhat knowledgeable about the basic arguments on both sides of the question
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Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Shakespeare identity debate reignited with TV challenge

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    • The perennial dispute over Shakespeare’s true identity has been reignited after Alexander Waugh threw down a challenge for Shakespeare scholars to appear in a televised debate.
    • “The academics are cornered, they have no evidence at all,” said Waugh. “Our declaration of reasonable doubt has forced their hand. They have been idle, and swept other theories under the carpet, dismissing us as fragmented lunatics.”
    • Waugh, who is the grandson of the novelist Evelyn Waugh, is one of the authors of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?
    • The new book, co-authored by the founder of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition John Shahan, comes hard on the heels of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt – an attempt by leading scholars to refute Bard deniers, edited by Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson – and riffs off its title and cover design.
    • “What we resent is that Shakespeare Beyond Doubt and its many contributors are not speaking on behalf of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, it’s published by Cambridge University Press,” he said. “The implied slur is that we’re trying to protect our financial interest, it’s impugning our scholarly integrity to say we’re taking up that stance purely for this reason.” Shakespeare scholars have not shied away from the evidence, he continued. “We have put our case very firmly and strongly. We have had many very vigorous debates and discussions.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 66

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    • The other day I had the idea of arbitrarily choosing a Shakespeare Sonnet to contemplate. This post is the result of that endeavor. For no particular reason, other then the fact that I like the number, I choose Sonnet Number 66.
    • This is a dark view of life. Things are   somewhat redeemed however by the last line, which is a declaration that the object of the writer’s love makes life worth living, despite the despair inherent in existence. There is question that bears asking however: what are these horrific aspects of life that lead the writer to cry for death and rest?
    • Drilling down further I ponder the following line,

       

       And art made tongue-tied by authority,

       

       Oppressors, both large and small have a long history of stifling expression. Not just governments, but organizations of all types, public figures, even teachers and family members have used all kinds of authority, from the emotional, to the social, to the deadly, to manipulate artists. Censorship and suppression of expression are one thing, but worst of all, aesthetic works are often twisted and contrived to serve those who hold power. Beauty is thus subverted in a particularly nasty way.
    • I can really relate to disgust over these wrongs that would lead one to question the validity of life. Unsurprisingly an analytical summery of these ills packs little of the emotional power that the Bard infused into the sonnet. Of course expressing ideas in this way is one of the reasons that art exists. When such ideas are expressed by someone with the abilities of Shakespeare, the results are sublime.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.