Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” plays with the Shakespeare authorship

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Here’s an early review of the latest Jim Jarmusch film (‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ | Under the Gun Review) which is of special interest to all anti-Stratfordians because right in the middle of the film British actor John Hurt turns up playing Christopher Marlowe, who goes off about “Who wrote Shakespeare” question and ends up calling the Stratford man an “illiterate swine.” We first heard about this last summer, when during a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival (while the film was in production) this moment in the film was discussed, and both Jarmush and Hurt weighed in with their thoughts. Here (below) is a clip of the press conference, from YouTube (with the Shakespeare authorship exchanges running from 3:50 to 6:20). John Hurt is asked about his role in the film (he plays Marlowe) and he goes straight into how much Jim Jarmusch believes that Christopher Marlowe wrote Shakespeare. The discussion goes on for several moments, with Jarmusch enthusiastically expounding on the issue while Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston look on with goofy grins. It concludes with Hurt also expressing his anti-Stratfordian views and informing Jarmusch that Sir John Gielgud should also be counted as an anti-Strat who — in the end — was an Oxfordian. The interviewer finally jumps in to get things back on track.

From the movie review:

A veritable auteur of indie cinema, Jim Jarmusch has oft been described as a filmmaker ahead of his time. His latest picture however, the gorgeous Only Lovers Left Alive, feels more like a relic from a treasured past. Its depiction of supernatural companionship harks back to a time when such stories were rarities and not mass marketed products for young adult audiences.

The high point of the entire thing may be John Hurt popping up as Christopher Marlowe – an acquaintance of Eve’s in Tangier, fully embracing the conspiracy theories about Shakespeare’s authorship and dismissing him (fantastically) as an illiterate swine.

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Authorship and authenticity

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If we find out that the Earl of Oxford wrote the plays we ascribe to Shakespeare, the plays won’t be any different, but people (not just English profs) really want to know the truth. This is a little odd, because we know so little about the historical Shakespeare that his biography can’t really affect our experience of the work much, but there are real insights to be gained about lots of art by knowing more about the artist and his milieu.

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Shakespeare was Shakespeare, again.

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Shakespeare-DroeshoutOne of the more ill-informed little posts on the Shakespeare authorship that you are likely to see anytime soon popped up on a Washington Post blog yesterday. That it comes from an assistant editor might have been surprising once, but not in 2014 when anyone who knows anything certainly knows that the Washington Post of yesterday is long gone. The post (Why Shakespeare WAS Shakespeare) directs readers to the latest book (with the same title) from Stanley Wells, a $1.99 kindle e-book on amazon.com that lets us know (again) that “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare,” so please ignore 150 years of controversy, and also please ignore the 2,500 individuals (many prominent actors, authors, jurists and scholars) who continue to disagree (e.g., see The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt). The Declaration site’s founder and chairperson John Shahan is engaged in an interesting set of exchanges in the reviews/comments section under the book listing at amazon.com. Check it out.

From the blog:

Pity the Shakespeare scholars. For more than a century now, they’ve been distracted from actual scholarship by zany arguments that the man from Stratford-upon-Avon did not write the plays we attribute to him.

All of this flared up (again) a few years ago when Roland Emmerich released a silly costume drama called “Anonymous,” which posited that Edward de Vere was the true (secret) author of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” et al.

Pity the Shakespeare scholars. For more than a century now, they’ve been distracted from actual scholarship by zany arguments that the man from Stratford-upon-Avon did not write the plays we attribute to him.

Readers interested in a brief summary of the claims and a strong defense of the Bard might consider Stanley Wells’s new Kindle single, “Why Shakespeare WAS Shakespeare” ($1.99). In about 60 pages, the esteemed scholar and editor considers the various anti-Shakespeare arguments (and some of their loonier proponents) and provides a quick, well-grounded rebuttal. Along the way, he also gives an overview of what is known about Shakespeare’s life.

Online, Wells’s essay has already attracted the opprobrium of skeptics. “It appears that Mr. Wells has simply copied old arguments from previous books on the subject,” writes a customer named Mark Twain. (Rumors of his death are, apparently, greatly exaggerated, but that’s a whole nuther conspiracy). “Worst, he keeps repeating various ‘facts’ that are simply long-held assumptions. When will modern scholars start thinking for themselves, or doing their own research?” Sigh.

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New England Shakespeare Oxford Library booksale

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Fowler_Shakespeare RevealedAbout once every 12-18 months I do some fundraising for my library and database projects: the New England Shakespeare Oxford Library (NESOL) and the Shakespeare Online Authorship Resources (SOAR) database of Oxfordian and other authorship articles.

I’ve just updated the library’s Bookstore page and the Special Offer book sales page with the latest on books for sales (old and new), so check them out and see if there’s anything you might like. There are a few hard-to-find titles there, some good prices, and offers for gift books to accompany most orders.

If you haven’t visited the SOAR catalog/database site, please do. We now have 4,800 items cataloged, covering all Oxfordian publications dating back into the 1930s, plus entries for hundreds of other related authorship articles. There are links to individual articles in some records and/or links to online PDF versions of complete newsletters for the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship publications. Our goal is to have individual article links in all the records in the near future.

Later this year a new Index to Oxfordian Publications will be published, covering all articles published through the end of 2013, plus many entries for such little known publications as the Shakespeare Pictorial, where Oxfordians such as B. M. Ward and Percy Allen published in the 1920s and early 1930s before the original Shakespeare Fellowship was founded. All these new records will also be added to SOAR later this year.

Shakespeare Authorship Question – Panel Debate


There will be a panel debate in London this April 30th on the Shakespeare Authorship Question, just one more sign that the question (and the debate surrounding it) will not be going away anytime soon. On a private listserve there was some discussion about this upcoming debate, and a comment expressing wariness over the sentence, “But is this really a significant cultural phenomenon, or just a minor academic squabble?” My reaction to that same sentence is not wariness, but rather that it sounds more like progress. For me, the right question is being posed (“is this a significant cultural phenomenon?”), and the right answer to that question would be, “Yes, it is.” The Shakespeare authorship question is really just a mirror of much broader questions about our own culture, especially significant during these troubled times in which we now live:  just what is the truth about anything (and who decides?), just how many secrets are there behind all those closed doors (and how can we get at them, and should we get at them?), and, finally, just who writes history anyway? These are all things worthy of some serious consideration, by everyone. As many of us engaged in this debate have learned over the years, the truth about who wrote Shakespeare is just a beginning, a gateway into understanding not just what he and his works are all about, but also what history itself is all about. It is not a minor squabble, it’s a big deal.

From the Facebook page:

The Shakespeare Authorship Question – for over 200 years a number of people have openly questioned whether William Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon wrote the plays and poems that have been attributed to him. But is this really a significant cultural phenomenon, or just a minor academic squabble?

On 30th April 2014 at the Ye Olde Cock Tavern, a panel of experts on the subject will explain to the general public why exactly it does matter who wrote Shakespeare, the details of the question and it’s broader relevance to society at large.

On the panel so far we have William Leahy of Brunel University in London, Ros Barber (author of “The Marlowe Papers” and “Shakespeare: The Evidence”) and Alan H.Nelson (author of “Monstrous Adversary”) along with actor and writer Alain English of the Central London Debating Society.

Follow the link to the Facebook page:


Oh, no! More portraits.

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Side-by-side, here they are, two new Shakespeares ... maybe. (Image courtesy of Discovery News)

Side-by-side, here they are, two new Shakespeares … maybe. (Image courtesy of Discovery News)

In the last years of his life, William Shakespeare was an elegant gentleman who spent time at his Stratford residence, sitting on an elaborately carved chair in the company of a book and an adoring dog.

About two decades earlier, he was a relatively young man exuding self-confidence and proud smiles.

These powerful images emerge from two previously unknown portraits of Shakespeare, according to Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, a professor of English at Mainz University, Germany.

“I subjected the images to fundamental tests of identity and authenticity, and these revealed that we are dealing with true-to-life portraits of Shakespeare, one from his youth, the second from his old age,” Hammerschmidt-Hummel told Discovery News.

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Did Christopher Marlowe Fake His Death? | Ros Barber

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Sir Derek Jacobi: “Not one shred of evidence” that Shakespeare wrote plays

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Celebrated actor Sir Derek Jacobi surprised a room full of admirers by insisting there is no evidence that William Shakespeare wrote the great works which bear his name.        

The stage and screen legend, star of TV shows Last Tango in Halifax and Vicious, opened up about his controversial views during a discussion about his life before a Hampstead audience on Thursday.

He called on academics to accept there are significant doubts about the authorship of the Bard’s plays and to enter into a “no holds barred” debate.

“There is not one shred of evidence that puts a pen in the hand of William,” he said.

“I would challenge anyone to give one solid piece of evidence that connects him to writing.”

Sir Derek Jacobi: ‘Not one shred of evidence’ that Shakespeare wrote plays – News – Hampstead and Highgate Express

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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

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

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.”

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