greg (grysar) wrote,

The debate on Shakespeare's identity.

The post had two columns in Sunday's outlook. One arguing that William Shakespeare wrote the plays and one that he didn't.

The "someone else" writer specifically complains that their views are frozen out of things like D.C.'s Shakespeare festival. That may well be true, but I've seen a fair amount of discussion on this issue in the mainstream press, so at very least they seem to have found other venues.

Anyhow, based on these two arguments, I'm comfortable with Shakespeare festivals not dealing much with the 'identity question.' The pro-Will column provided more documentations of what people in Shakespeare's time said about him. Similarly, while many plays are set in countries Shakespeare hasn't been, the anti-camp didn't provide any examples of first-hand detail of Italy or the Mediterranean in the plays. The life experience argument from the anti-camp also seems like crap, as the pro-side documents, other playwrights, such as Marlow, in his were in the middle class.

The political argument seems somewhat circular. A noble couldn't get away with parodying the people Shakespeare parodies, therefore Shakespeare is a noble writing under a pseudonym. Now, this is logically consistent, but since I'm not accepting the life experience argument. Apparently the middle class could get away with it, because if Will is just a patsy he never actually seemed to take the fall for the hidden playwright. Now maybe he wasn't punished because he didn't exist, but the anti-camp in this case doesn't even try for that argument. Similarly, the anti-Willians raise the issue of the plays having court knowledge but they don't really document it.

The proposed playwright is interesting and seems a fairly good match. However, the anti-Willites have almost literally gone through every major figure alive at the time (including some that died too soon). It's not horribly surprising that they found someone with a lot of coincidental similarities.

So, maybe there's a stronger case to be made out there. Feel free to link it if you know one. But if this is the best they've got, I'm not at all impressed.
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