John Paul Stevens (sketch image used in NYT)Last week I wrote that Justice John Paul Stevens found an indirect way to mention the Shakespeare authorship question in an interview in The New York Times, just one day after the cream of the Shakespeare establishment had gathered at the Folger Shakespeare Library and found many indirect ways to address the authorship question without actually getting around to, you know,  mentioning it (except for ridiculing Baconian codes a couple of times). See my earlier post, Authorship by indirection.

So, of course, there were some letters to the editor (or at least we assume there were more than one, but who knows?), and the Times printed one letter last Sunday. And the letter, of course, took the Justice to task for maintaining the “misguided, dispiriting and wholly imaginary existence of the ‘author of the plays attributed to William Shakespeare’,” and then let’s us know, “the question is settled.”

So that is that, we can only assume. One letter, question settled, we are done.

To the Editor:

I am willing to leave to scholars the demanding task of sifting through the legacy of former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’s more puzzling decisions over the years: his majority vote in Gregg v. Georgia (1976), which reaffirmed the use of the death penalty; his dissent in Texas v. Johnson (1989), in which he asserted that the burning of the American flag is not protected as free speech; and his lead opinion for Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008), upholding an Indiana law requiring citizens to show photographic identification in order to vote.

However, in re John Paul Stevens v. William Shakespeare, it is beyond disappointing to learn in “By the Book” (April 6) that he maintains the misguided, dispiriting and wholly imaginary existence of “the author of the plays attributed to William Shakespeare.” Mr. Justice, as to the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays, Cadit quaestio, the question is settled

JERRY O’BRIEN
KINGSTON, R.I.

Letters: Stevens v. Shakespeare – NYTimes.com

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