Monday, March 6, 2017

Reading The Bad Plays

Update intro:  I am also getting a lot of whining about me pointing out that the falsification of history can be politically dangerous.  You would think that anyone who could witness the Hollywood-TV creation and installation of Donald Trump on the delusions of tens of millions of voters, based on what they believed from seeing him on TV would realize that's what we're seeing.  But my time reading blogs like Baby Blue have opened my eyes to the shocking fact that even being a college educated, alleged lefty won't brake the hold that the entertainment industry has on the TV addled American mind.

 I don't have time to go into a specific response  but the only thing I've ever written about the "historical plays" hardly endorsed them as accurate history.  Here it is.

I have revived a project that an old friend of mine and I started, twice,  of reading all of those plays by xthat most people don't get around to reading.  We read several of them together before she died, Love's Labours Lost, Pericles, Measure for Measure and a few of the more often read ones.

I read King John over the weekend and have to say that it is an incredibly frustrating play in many ways, containing some extremely beautiful verse that you can't help but regret is so wasted on such a messed up play filled to the top with such horrible characters,  The quote that is most famous put in the mouth of the putrid King John's son as he was about to become Henry III,

I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death,
And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings
His soul and body to their lasting rest.

Considering what a total piece of slime his father was from the start of the play (and in history) it is extremely frustrating to have such such beauty said on his behalf.

The play, itself, was probably doomed to be ineffective due to the scope of complexity of the subject matter.  The Plantagenet/Angevin crime families, their crimes, their infighting, etc. couldn't be dealt with in a years long TV series.  Heck, you'd need a long TV series just go get through the public life of King John and his equally putrid brother, Richard.  Trying to do it in a single play is bound to falsify the real history of it by having to leave most of it out.  It is futile to try to find anyone involved  who deserves our sympathy.  What with the various governments, all of them ruthless crime families who could give our worst Eastern European, South Asian or American Republican crime families something to recognize.

Every dramatic presentation of the figures in those intrigues has falsified them.  The Lion in Winter, with the benefit of James Goldman not having to placate members of the crime family which ruled England several centuries later, written when modern history of the period had laid out how truly awful those folks were, still presents them as romanticized cartoons.  The movie with Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn is absurd.  There were simply no good guys to be had, not even when you have Katherine Hepburn play one of them, turning Eleanor into a Connecticut aristocrat - as she did every character she ever played that I'm aware of.   I dread to think that there are probably large segments of the allegedly educated population who believe Eleanor of Aquitaine was Hepburn.  The presentation of them as some kind of enlightened rulers with any sympathy to the people they tyrannized and bled for money in their petty attempts to keep territory and steal it only shows how thoroughly Americans have bought into the bull shit pageantry of English kings and queens.

George Orwell made the most interesting point about the play that I've ever seen, in the context a truly wonderful essay about how literature goes in and out of relevance depending on current events.

The obvious explanation of this sharp difference between the dominant writers before and after the war of 1914-18 is the war itself. Some such development would have happened in any case as the insufficiency of modern materialistic civilization revealed itself, but the war speeded that process, partly by showing how very shallow the veneer of civilization is, partly by making England less prosperous and therefore less isolated. After 1918 you couldn't live in such a narrow and padded world as you did when Britannia ruled not only the waves but also the markets. One effect of the ghastly history of the last twenty years has been to make a great deal of ancient literature seem much more modern. A lot that has happened in Germany since the rise of Hitler might have come straight out of the later volumes of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Recently I saw Shakespeare's [sic.] King John acted — the first time I had seen it, because it is a play which isn't acted very often. When I had read it as a boy it seemed to me archaic, something dug out of a history book and not having anything to do with our own time. Well, when I saw it acted, what with its intrigues and doublecrossings, non-aggression pacts, quislings, people changing sides in the middle of a battle, and what-not, it seemed to me extraordinarily up to date. And it was rather the same thing that happened in the literary development between 1910 and 1920. The prevailing temper of the time gave a new reality to all sorts of themes which had seemed out of date and puerile when Bernard Shaw and his Fabians were — so they thought — turning the world into a sort of super garden city. Themes like revenge, patriotism, exile, persecution, race hatred, religious faith, loyalty, leader worship, suddenly seemed real again. Tamerlane and Genghis Khan seem credible figures now, and Machiavelli seems a serious thinker, as they didn't in 1910. We have got out of a backwater and back into history. I haven't any unqualified admiration for the writers of the early nineteen-twenties, the writers among whom Eliot and Joyce are chief names. Those followed them have to undo a great deal of what they did. Their revulsion from a shallow conception of progress drove them politically in t he wrong direction, and it isn't an accident that Ezra Pound, for instance, is now shouting antisemitism on the Rome radio. But one must concede that their writings are more grown-up, and have a wider scope, than what went immediately before them. They broke the cultural circle in which England had existed for something like a century. They re-established contact with Europe, and they brought back the sense of history and the possibility of tragedy. On that basis all subsequent English literature that matters twopence has rested, and the development that Eliot and the others started back in the closing years of the last war, has not yet run its course.

For me the best part of the play, the most revealing and intellectually honest is the second act, when the competing armies of Austria on behalf of prince Arthur, John's nephew and a claimant to the throne, Phillip of France, King John, his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine and various others are poised to pillage the city of Angiers,  When they demand that the Citizens of Angiers declare which of the various factions they recognize as the legitimate ruler, John or Arthur (who John is often believed to have mutilated and murdered - perhaps with his own hand, not fell off a wall as the play says) or whoever, they essentially say they don't want any part of the royal intrigues.   In the whole play, the brief appearance of the representatives of the people of that beleaguered city are the only ones with any real claim to our allegiance because they are the ones who are most like us in the hands of our ruling elite.

I would describe how the poor Citizens of Angiers try to get out of the royal cross-hairs by getting John's niece Blanche married off to King Phillip's son, Louis, but the intrigues involved are better read than described.  They're far from obvious if you haven't reviewed the background information.

The author was biting off way more than an honest person could turn into a play.  It's doubtful anyone could have done it.  If couldn't, who could?  The overall meaning of the play is the corruption of power, the insanity of it.  It is regrettable that he included the death of John - you feel like giving a medal to the monk who allegedly poisoned him.   I am afraid it is a lot more relevant to contemporary politics in the United States than it should be.  The Republican pack, the Republicans in congress and the triangulating establishment Democrats aren't much more rational or honest.

*  I'm inclined to think X was Bacon.  I will not pretend that that illiterate guy who couldn't spell his own name as he drew out the letters wrote the plays, especially as I'm sure this will infuriate the usual fly-specks.

Note:  From what I know of Henry III, in addition to voluntarily reissuing Magna Carta, he spent a lot of his early reign trying to prove he wasn't as awful as his father.  The pattern for screwed up English politics, though, had been cast and they still haven't gotten over it.  The great insight into history by William Faulkner is true.


  1. Thomas Aquinas' script was dubbed "The Unreadable Hand" (littera illegibilis) by his fellow Dominicans. Clearly he was the front for someone else! Dude, seriously, Shakespeare did not live in a 3rd grade classroom run by Carmelite Sisters. If that's your ace in the hole you need to recognize you're playing lowball.

    1. What a stupid argument. If his fellow Dominicans identified HIS HAND as "the Unreadable Hand" they were also identifying it as his hand. And they obviously knew that he'd used it to write the many hundreds of thousands of words he wrote with it, the many hundreds of thousands of words attributed to him, during his lifetime by those who knew him AS A WRITER. His education is accounted for which would have enabled him to be the writer he was acknowledged to be during his life time, there is no mystery about any of that. I hate to resort to Wikipedia but, as you can see, I've already written quite a lot today, here's what it says about his early education.

      At the age of five Thomas began his early education at Monte Cassino but after the military conflict between the Emperor Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX spilled into the abbey in early 1239, Landulf and Theodora had Thomas enrolled at the studium generale (university) recently established by Frederick in Naples.[16] It was here that Thomas was probably introduced to Aristotle, Averroes and Maimonides, all of whom would influence his theological philosophy.[17] It was also during his study at Naples that Thomas came under the influence of John of St. Julian, a Dominican preacher in Naples, who was part of the active effort by the Dominican order to recruit devout followers.[18] There his teacher in arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music was Petrus de Ibernia.[19]

      By comparison, the tales of the Stratford man's elementary education are entirely speculative because there is no record of him having attended any school or had a tutor. Most likely, other than being able to scratch out the letters to represent his name, he was as illiterate as his known relatives were.

      Any contemporary record attributing or evidencing a literary career is lacking for the Stratford man who, unique among all of the 25 named writers of his day studied by Diana Price, lacked a single piece of direct evidence,during his lifetime of him being a writer. His six signatures believed to have been his, the only samples of his writing that can be associated with him, only prove a. he could barely make letters, b. he didn't know how to spell his own name. I have tried to find examples of other renowned authors who, over the course of every signatures known to be theirs spelled their name with such complete variation and I was unable to find any, though I certainly don't have time to conduct such an extensive research project as Price did.

  2. No no no no no no no. My point about handwriting is that Aquinas, certainly one of the greatest intellects of Western thought, had awful terrible no good very bad handwriting, which has nothing to do with his education or intelligence.

    And, if I may offer this correction, he, technically, did not write hundreds of thousands of words. He dictated them. This is a point I wish to bring up because it says something to his intelligence that he was able to dictate up to three books to three scribes simultaneously. But to write them out himself? Not a great idea. Shakespeare's signatures, written by hands that had written at least 900,000 words with downright primitive technology, is not, surprisingly, farmable calligraphy. As per the spelling, there was no uniform system at the time, and many writers spelled and signed their names in different ways.

    You mention your annoyance with Hollywood history, but you're offering a version of Elizabethan England that would be well served as a major motion picture. Historians and scholars of the era have debunked Price's claims again and again and again, sometimes before she made them. Steven May (PhD, University of Chicago, specializing in English Renaissance poetry) wrote about the "Mythical "Stigma of Print" (yes, that's actually in the title) back in 1980. Price seems to have missed that article, as she was too busy grabbing her husband and using her Ovaltine decoder ring to figure out what Ben Jonson REALLY meant when he praised Shakespeare, with faint damning.

  3. You could have made that point clearer, in light of our long running argument on this matter.

    I never said that bad handwriting was a symptom of stupidity, I have extremely bad handwriting - I only write in block capitals to make my writing legible - and I would never claim that.

    So, now in addition to inventing a missing biography of his childhood which contains what must have been one of the finest educations of his times out of absolutely no evidence, you invent stenographers who took down his plays as he dictated them in iambic pentameter? Or is that a joke?

    The same technology that the Stratford man used to draw the letters of his name six times is the same technology that the clerks who wrote, for example, the text of his will used. They're the same technology that all other writers used, there was no other technology to put words on paper by hand. Spelling your own name is not the same thing as spelling, for example the word "silence", especially as a signature. That is why I was curious to find out if other, known authors of his time wrote theirs at different times with the same and shocking lack of uniformity that the Stratford man's signatures have. It wouldn't give you anything like proof that he lacked more than an ability to write than that but it would surely be an argument against it.

    On the stigma of print, and your, may I point out, rather sexist jab at Diana Price, I'll let her speak for herself, IN RESPONSE TO STEVEN MAY among others.

    I disagree with Prof. May’s conclusion for several reasons. One, the very evidence that he cites to demonstrate why the “myth” of the stigma of print was first postulated is, in my view, evidence of a genuine social dynamic. Among that evidence is The Arte of English Poesie (1589):

    Now also of such among the Nobilities or gentrie as to be very well seene in many laudable sciences, and especially in making or poesie, it is so come to passe that they have no courage to write, & , if they have, yet are loath to be a knowen of their skill., So as I know very many notable Gentlemen in the Court that have written commendably, and suppressed it agayne, or els suffred it to be publisht without their owne names to it: as if it were a discredit for a Gentleman to seeme learned and to show him selfe amorous of any good Art. (Elizabethan Critical Essays :2:22).

    And in her Maiesties time that now is are sprong up an other crew of Courtly makers, Noble men and Gentlemen of her Maiesties owne servaunts, who have written excellently well as it would appeare if their doings could be found out and made publicke with the rest; of which number is first that noble Gentleman Edward Earle of Oxford. Thomas Lord of Bukhurst, when he was young, Henry Lord Paget, Sir Philip Sydney, Sir Walter Rawleigh, Master Edward Dyar, Maister Fulke Grevell, Gascon, Britton, Turberuille and a great many other learned Gentlemen, whose names I do not omit for envie, but to avoyde tediousneffe, and who have deserved no little commendation. (Elizabethan Critical Essays :2:63-64).

    The stigma of print, as discussed here, especially applies to verse. It is worth noting that the author of The Arte of English Poesie chose to remain anonymous himself.

    May concludes that there was a “stigma of verse” but no general “stigma of print.” I would infer, then, that the stigma of print, such as it was, was confined to the genre of poetry. By extension, other genres, regardless of worth or respectability (including plays, whether verse or prose), must have remained unaffected. But that scenario does not, in my view, sufficiently distinguish between either social class or genre, nor does it explain the absence of creative works published by the nobility.

    1. continued

      George Pettie offers testimony to a general reluctance of the Tudor gentleman to betray his learning by writing and publishing anything, even serious matter, and his statements support the existence of a stigma of print. Pettie adopts some typical poses to explain his own appearance in print:

      A Petite Palace is prefaced by three letters that fictitiously describe how it came to press against the will of its author. In the first, “To the Gentle Gentlewoman Readers,” one “R. B.” recounts his role in the “faithless enterprise,” claiming that he named the work after Painter’s Palace of Pleasure. Having heard Pettie give the stories “in a manner ex tempore ” on many “private occasions" and having learned that he had then written them down, R. B. apparently begged the manuscript from his friend, promising to keep it for private use. But fervent admiration for the opposite sex drove R. B. to “transgress the bounds of faithful friendship” and publish the stories for the “common profit and pleasure” of readers “whom by my will I would have only gentlewomen.

      In the second prefatory letter -- supposed to have accompanied the manuscript when Pettie confided it to his treacherous friend -- Pettie asks R. B. to keep the manuscript secret because “divers discourses touch nearly divers of my near friends.” The third letter is from the printer, who claims to know neither Pettie nor R. B. but to have been given the manuscript by a third party. Alarmed by the “too wanton” nature of the work, the printer then “gelded” it of “such matters as may seem offensive.” Authorial disavowal of an intention to publish was not uncommon in the late sixteenth century; such a stance represents an attempt to circumvent the class derogation attached to print. But Pettie’s second work, The Civil Conversation, maintains the fiction that his first was published without his permission.” (Juliet Fleming, Dictionary of Literary Biography 136: Sixteenth-Century British Nondramatic Writers . Ed. David A. Richardson. The Gale Group, 1994.)

      You should read her entire text, in fact, I'd recommend you look at her website where she quite ably answers her critics' legitimate criticisms like an adult.

    2. Quickly rereading it, I can't resist pointing out this, from her response to May, as well:

      On the other hand, if there was a stigma of print, we should expect to find some sort of correlation between social rank, genre, and publishing, i.e., the higher the social rank of the author, the more reluctance to publish; and the more frivolous or commercial the genre, the more reluctant the author. According to Arthur Marotti, “literary communication was socially positioned and socially mediated: styles and genres were arranged in hierarchies homologous with those of rank, class, and prestige” (Marotti, “Patronage,” 1). One would therefore expect to see the effect of the stigma of print on something of a sliding scale, having even an exponential effect on publishing as we climb the social ladder. At the top end, we should expect find very few, if any, of the nobility choosing to publish anything. Of those few books that might be published with authorization, the genre should be serious, educational, political, or devotional. Then, as we descend the social ladder, we should expect less serious genres to appear, with or without authorization, or with apology. And when at last we find self-proclaimed poets or dramatists (or satirists or fiction writers) freely and openly publishing their creative work, we should be looking at the lowest rungs of the gentry and the commoners, the would-be’s, the aspiring amateurs, the professionals affecting the conduct of the gentleman-amateur. And that is exactly what we find.

      Lord Vaux

      Many members on the top rungs of the Tudor aristocracy had outstanding reputations as poets. But none of them published their creative work. The earl of Surrey’s attributed poems were published in miscellanies after his death. So were Thomas, [Baron] Lord Vaux’s. The earl of Oxford published nothing during his lifetime. Further down the social ladder were Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Edward Dyer, and Sir Fulke Greville, all of whom also earned reputations as writers. None of them published their work, either. Like those of their social betters, the relatively few poems that appeared in print turned up in miscellanies. So here we have just what we should expect if there were a stigma of print. All these poets established literary reputations either on works transmitted orally, circulated in manuscript, or in miscellanies published by someone with access to those circulating manuscripts. It is not until one descends to the aspiring gentlemen, the would-be’s, those seeking preferment, and of course the newly emerging class of professionals (e.g., Greene and Nashe) that one finds unrestrained (and even then often apologetic) efforts to publish.

    3. continued:

      May acknowledges that “To all appearances the code [of the stigma] was upheld by the next generation of courtier poets, insofar as Sidney, Dyer, Ralegh, and the earl of Essex, among the more prominent Elizabethan courtiers, likewise made no provision to publish their works.” But it is that appearance of conformity to the social code -- that very failure to publish -- by the highest-ranking poets of reputation in Elizabethan and Stuart England that demonstrates the stigma of print. The stigma of print is manifested first and foremost with the nobility, and is gradually diluted as we descend the social ladder. The members of the nobility in Tudor and early Stuart England are relatively few in number, and their ventures into publishing almost nil.

      Sir Walter Raleigh

      Most of the plays written by aristocrats were closet dramas, not intended to be performed, and more properly categorized as learned translations or political treatises. Even so, nearly all the closet dramas that were published were either unauthorized or were printed posthumously. The Countess of Pembroke was the highest ranking aristocrat who published a (possibly authorized) play, and it was closet drama. The earl of Derby wrote plays for common players, but none survive, at least not under his own name. If other aristocrats wrote plays for the public stage, history does not record what those plays were, and none were published with attribution. William Alexander was a Scot and had no title when he published his four closet dramas. Greville recorded his reluctance to see any of his plays published, even posthumously.

  4. I never argued Shakespeare dictated his plays, simply that having poor penmanship does not necessarily reflect on one's intelligence, as Aquinas, Melville, and other great writers can demonstrate. You have mentioned numerous times how poor his signature is, but that is not evidence that he wasn’t a writer, simply that he was likely not a scribe, a point I’ve never heard argued.

    As per his "missing education," you're revealing an equally unbalanced view of the matter. We have no records of ANY student attending the Edward VI School during that time period, and even if we did, that doesn’t prove Shakespeare was educated, nor that he was a writer. Consider someone like Srinivasa Ramanujan, or Brian Wilson, largely self-taught autodidacts whose formal education created at most a spark that they fanned into infernos. You’re offering something only a Hollywood screenwriter would shamelessly insist – that absence of evidence is evidence of absence. I am not insisting it did happen, but simply that it is absurd to say it could not have.

    There is nothing sexist about my comment about Price grabbing her husband. That was her own explanation for one of the reasons she was able to determine how certain lines in ‘Hamlet’ were clearly autobiographical – because she grabbed her husband at the same moment he grabbed her, and they just knew, instinctively knew, that those lines were not the characters in the play speaking but the playwright himself, conveying something to those wise enough to hear! That is not scholarship, and as I’ve already explained, Price shows an desperate dishonesty in, among other things, trying to argue that comparing Shakespeare to the Roman playwright Terrance was a hint that he was a front (because, she argues, so was he), but ignores that he was also compared with Ovid and Plautus. Canonical writers with no such reputation. Half-truths and whole lies. I’ve read enough of her and her critics to see how bent the twig is, and I’ll quote her directly, “I am profoundly unsatisfied with the traditional biography. I think it answers no questions at all, and I would like to know what happened…You know, you think, ‘This can't be right. This just can't be right.’” In other words, “!@#$ the historical record and scholarship! I don’t want a Shakespeare that was so concerned about his financial matters.” I’m just glad she won’t be around in fifty years to write about how a vain, cold skinflint like Chuck Berry could never have written the songs in his catalogue.

    1. The problem with his six signatures is the fact that those are the only evidence that he was able to write words with a pen and they are rather more useful for showing that he barely could do that with the two words that formed his name than they are to support the contention that he wrote well over nine-hundred thousand of the greatest words ever written in the English language.

      The problem of the Stratford man's missing education has been an obsession of Stratfordians for as long as the fact that there is no record of him ever having gone to school has been noted. The "Shakespeare" biographies are full to the gills with fables about his school days, the Stratford industry has pushed fables about that, as I've heard they'll even show you where he sat, or maybe that's a discontinued part of the Shakespeare tour, these days. The speculations about his "education" from the Shakespeare industry could fill a small encyclopedia - all based on an absolute absence of any evidence. Compared to that the mere citation of there being absolutely no evidence that he ever had any formal or informal education is 100% accurate and honest. And, on top of him not knowing how to spell his name and his weak penmanship and the fact that every other known member of his family were illiterate, things such as absolutely no book he ever owned has been found or verified, none appeared in his extensive will, no member of his family, not even his one literate son-in-law mentioned him as a famous writer, as did no one who can certainly be identified as knowing him in Stratford... it rather impeaches the whole idea behind the industry.

      The problems with the traditional biographies, all of them, are that they are based on fables, conventionalized myths, factoids stretched out in whatever shape would fit the gaping holes in the actual, factual record, and a thousand other discrepancies and deficiencies. The "traditional biography" is absolutely crap when measured against the modern standards of scholarly history and biography.

      You obviously know what her detractors have said about Diana Price but I don't see any evidence that you've read her papers or book.

  5. We don’t even have any signatures from Christopher Marlowe, so at least we have those. A paucity of such artifacts is the norm, not an outlier, for the era. Paper was rare and expensive and they lacked the attachment to things we do, especially rough drafts of popular theatre. Regarding the quality of the signatures, could that be because he had writer’s cramp (mogigraphia)? Fact is, if he wrote 900,000 words (at least) with such rudimentary technology it doesn’t stretch the limits of one’s mind to imagine how damaged his hand was. Mozart wrote excessively as well, and his signature isn’t one you want to put on the wall either.

    Per the Stratfordians, you’re conflating various positions amongst them as being of a whole. Here’s what I know: There was a grammar school in Shakespeare’s time in Stratford. Shakespeare was eligible to attend the school. All records of ANYONE attending the school during the time period are lost. It is a perfectly reasonable inference that he attended the school. Not certain, but likely.

    I don’t claim to know what desk he sat in, and did you experience this yourself, or is this an anecdote that builds as it passes through the conspiracy theorists? Did the guide say, “Shakespeare likely attended the school, and would have sat in a desk like this” that then becomes, via a game of telephone, “The tour guide told someone they have Shakespeare’s original desk!”

    Claiming he did not know how to spell is name is downright deceptive. There was no uniform spelling at the time, and many people spelled words differently, sometimes in the exact same document.

    His family’s literacy is something I’ve heard learned scholars disagree on, and it reveals nothing about Shakespeare himself, anyway. This was 16th century England, and I imagine a lot of men were more concerned with their daughters marrying up than learning to write.
    As per his will, per English probate law, all wills were required to be accompanied by an inventory. If you look at those pairs of documents during the era, most include books in the latter. Again, the norm, not the outlier.

    Right, his son-in-law never mentions him. Numerous writers do, explicitly and unambiguously. I love the way Ben Jonson is embraced by anti-Stratfordians as someone who never not ever wrote straightforwardly about anyone or thing. Yes, he wrote a poem about a poet ape, but how many scholars think this was about Shakespeare? How many contemporaries? You’ve probably got enough fingers on your hands to count them and still play a hexad.

    Your dismissal of traditional biography is misleading because while numerous Stratfordians offer admitted speculation about his upbringing, education, missing years, etc. That he wrote the plays is attested to using all current and past means of historical research. Price, “this authorship question has been around for so long. And the thing that gets me is that it never goes away and nobody's ever able to close the sale.” No. The vast majority of scholars in that field are about as interested in this as classicists and Biblical scholars (even the non-Christian ones) are in Jesus Myth nonsense. Jesus Mythers have been around about as long as anti-Stratfordians have. Are they still here because the sale hasn’t been closed, or because fringe conspiracy theorists with no background in scholarship of the time and place collect a few facts declare the case open?

    And all due respect, everything I’ve said against Price comes directly from her own words. I do not have to read her critics to know that Shakespeare was compared to numerous writers of the past during his lifetime, and to imply that because one of those he was placed alongside was a front was hinting (nudge-nudge wink-wink) that Shakespeare was one too is sloppy, incomplete scholarship. Just as I quote her directly about believing Shakespeare’s life has to (for her) be mirrored in the plays.

    1. I believe there is one signature of Christopher Marlowe, from him attesting a will, to give you something to grasp onto as a life preserver, as I recall he doesn't give his last name in the form "Marlowe". Furthermore, in the appendix of her book where she gives a chart for ten categories of evidence attesting to the writing professions of 25 named authors from the time of the plays and poems, she gives Marlowe these categories.

      1. Evidence of an education
      4. Evidence of direct relationship with a patron
      8. Miscellaneous records (e.g. referring to a person as a writer)
      10. Notice at death as a writer

      I believe in the case of Marlowe, one of the pieces of evidence are legal records.

      As I noted the only one of the 25 without a single piece of evidence from his lifetime demonstrating that he left any literary record at all, is William Shaksper(e) of Stratford.

      Mozart's musical manuscript is very clear, fluent and orderly. I don't quite understand your point, especially in so far as it shows there is an enormous amount of it known to be in his handwriting, with words, all of which are far clearer and fluent than the Stratford man's six signatures.

      Given the fact that even the orthodox Stratfordians who have written on the six signatures can't agree among themselves on what the letters in some of them are, a far simpler explanation for the quality of them is that the Stratford businessman, as many of his profession could, could draw letters representing his name but which are likely the only letters they ever made.

      Nothing you said about his alleged schooling changes anything I said about it. You only demonstrate that as the Stratfordians have created lore about that alleged education, they have made up different lines of lore. As Diana Price has pointed out, they've given him different biographies as a child and young man to explain how he came to have the erudition in so many different fields which can't all be true even as not one of them has any basis in evidence. The fact that as a mature adult who left about seventy documents, many of them attesting to either his personal possessions or his buisness activities, not one of them demonstrate a. that he was a writer or b. that he possessed books, manuscripts, sent or received letters or, most tellingly for a money grubber like him, had any rights to poems or plays or other writings.

      Prices' comparison of the literary paper trail of evidence that writers are documented to have been writers during their life time, including the Stratford man, is, in so far as I've ever read, quite original scholarship that is unique in the field.

      The rest of your comment is irrelevant. I don't see any evidence you've read her papers or her book or you would know she's addressed a number of the points you don't realize she has.

  6. Addressing is not necessarily answering. Price is clearly led by the concept that Shakespeare's biography and oeuvre must fit perfectly together because a man who created such amazing art could not possibly have been a money-grubbing skinflint. Also, grabbing her husband during 'Hamlet.' They know, I tell you, they know.

    "Prices' comparison of the literary paper trail of evidence that writers are documented to have been writers during their life time, including the Stratford man, is, in so far as I've ever read, quite original scholarship that is unique in the field." Its conclusions are also dismissed en masse by scholars and historians because of her obvious failure to grasp the methods of the discipline. And, I would argue, her reliance of special pleading to make her case.

    You seem truly possessed by the idea, like Price, that an artist’s life and work are an indivisible whole. You've made numerous posts about artists and their work often buttressed by stories of how horrible they were as human beings. Personally, regardless of his politics, I find Kipling entertaining and engaging. I’m repulsed by D.H. Lawrence’s horrifying elitism, but the man could write. Caravaggio was a son of a bitch, plain and simple, but it doesn’t distract (for me) from the power of his art. That Shakespeare was an eager practitioner of commerce has nothing to do with ‘Lear,' 'Midsummer' or any of his other works.

    The onus is on you [pl] to provide proof of another writer, and you have even less than any Stratfordian does. You want to argue Bacon wrote them? OK, show some documentation that Bacon was in active and frequent company with actors from the Lord Chamberlain's Men like Richard Burbage or John Rice. Not that his mother was a scholar and Beatrice is a strong, intelligence woman. That's not evidence, and you can't mock one side for excessive and unfounded extrapolations and then engage in the same thing yourself.

    Don't offer that he did write theatrical works and write about them so - NO. No, whoever wrote the plays needed a much deeper understanding of the actors available than occasional run-ins could possibly offer. They needed to be aware of the company's abilities and limitations, their props and costumes. You have to explain why NONE of the these men ever mentioned Shakespeare as being a front, even though he clearly was the object of scorn and jealousy from other parties. You want to think Shakespeare the poet ape? Fine, but that's no more proof than someone arguing Moby Dick is clearly Millard Fillmore. Evidence, and I'm not giving Price $20 when everything I've heard or read from her can be answered by me. Definitely not a Renaissance scholar.

    1. Her work is based on what is apparently a bizarre idea to you that someone who is alleged to have been the author of some of the greatest works in world literature, someone who, as a member of the more modest classes of their society who - never the less managed to leave behind about 70 documents about their life and profssional life - should have managed to at least leave behind as much evidence of their literary career as people like John Webster (3 documents that he was a professional writer), Thomas Kyd, Beaumont, John Fletcher, Christopher Malowe (4 documents each), Thomas Watson and Thomas Dekker, (5 each) and twenty-four others instead of William Shaksper(e) 0 documents that he was a professional writer, the only one of the 25 for whom that is true.

      It is funny to me because what you claim as an obsession in Diana Price pretty much defines the entire substance of the fictional biography that is the entire case of the Stratfordian industry. In my case, it is only the question of how someone who can't even be documented as having been able to write more than his six signatures that don't compare very well with those of Donald Trump or Nancy Reagan or to have owned a book, never mind having left no evidence of how he managed to obtain what must have been one of the greatest educations of his age, managed to write what he did.

      You know, I did start off believing the conventional POV on this question without any question, it was only when I read Mark Twain's essay on the question and fact checked that that I lost that baseless, naive faith I had in the Stratford legend. It's not the only time that's happened to me, that I had to change my beliefs based on fact checking my way out of them. It's happened several times in my adulthood. I think it's going to become harder to maintain the Stratford orthodoxy as more people do that.

  7. Using the standards of historical research that have been in place for centuries, yes, there is ample evidence William Shakespeare was the author of the works attributed to him. Period. Price can conjure up her own methods and pleading for insisting it is not, but as I’ve heard, “Whenever someone who is an arts administrator and a strategic business planner writes about Renaissance literature, two out of every three words will be wrong.”

    Amongst scholars and historians, Shakespeare’s authorship is “alleged” the way Clinton “allegedly” won the popular vote by a wide margin. Funny enough, there lots of people in the entertainment business who find both arguments for attaching an asterisk to those claims compelling. Coincidence?

    And here you go with the damned signatures again. They don’t tell us anything about someone’s intelligence. Why do you keep vamping on this as if it were relevant? I offered Aquinas as but one example of intellectual giant with genuinely poor penmanship. That proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that clarity and depth of thought and good handwriting can be mutually exclusive. Add in the lack of standardized spelling and your argument comes off more fragile than Trump’s ego.

    I’ve read Twain’s essay as well. Then I took a class taught by a professor who actually studied Elizabethan literature for a living. He broke down, without even knowing it, every one of Twain’s arguments, openly conceding we know not nearly as much about Shakespeare’s life as we’d like to, and warned about reading any of the works as autobiographical no matter how many times we grab our partners during a performance.

    For what it’s worth, I find the unsupportable speculation about what Shakespeare “really” meant as nauseating as Price’s garbage. I read half of ‘Will In The World’ and returned it the library unfinished. It’s just too much, “But let’s imagine…” Just understand any alternative candidate will have far more unwarranted extrapolation. “Let us imagine Francis Bacon often went incognito to visit the Lord Chamberlain’s Men…” Zero proof of this but, hey, let’s pretend!

    1. Why do you want to mix "the standards of historical research that have been in place for centuries" as the standard you want to determine the authorship question with the modern methods of counting votes that show, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote?

      You seem to want to imply that Diana Price supports the Baconian position when she takes no position on who wrote the plays and poems, she merely researched the question as to how 25 named authors of the time of the Stratford man left direct evidence of a literary career during their lifetimes. That of the 25, from the most prominent such as Ben Jonson and Edmund Spencer to the most obscure such as Thomas Dekker and Francis Beaumont, the only one of the 25 who managed to leave not a single piece of evidence of a literary career was Wm. Shaksper(e) of Stratford. I don't know why you would find that "nauseating" most of the people who have actually read it and who don't have an ideological position to be knocked over by it find it interesting. She was very careful.

      I can say that there is at least as much to support Francis Bacon's involvement with theater as there is for the Stratford man. I haven't looked at it for a while but I suspect there is far more. And there is no doubt, whatsoever that Bacon had the education that the Stratford man can't be demonstrated to have had, the experience in law, in courts, with access to books and documents, there is absolutely no doubt that Bacon was an author with something the Stratford man can't be demonstrated to have had, a literary relationship with Ben Jonson who helped him prepare his work for publication at exactly the same time he wrote the folio front material.

      Your professor must have had to do the kind of special pleading that the entire Stratfordian case rests on because, minus the literary hyperbole, etc. just about everything Twain said, more than a hundred years ago, is still just as true as it was then.

      After the longest, most extensive literary paper chase in history, there is, as Stanley Wells admitted, not a single piece of paper from the lifetime of the Stratford man that provides evidence that he was an author.

      You know, Price is a lot more generous in her assumptions about the Stratford man's literacy than I am. She asserts he must have been literate, something I tend to doubt. Though it could be that while he could read he couldn't write.

      I find it hilarious that the Stratfordians really despise Diana Price who they have to misrepresent and mock, sometimes in a pretty sexist manner, but who they can't refute on her own work. I find her work quite impressive. If I hadn't been dissuaded from brainless, traditional upholding of orthodoxy by Twain before, I would be even more dissuaded by reading her books, papers, responses, etc.