Saturday, August 23, 2014

Gary Taylor sez Waugaman is as unconvincing as holocaust deniers

by Linda Theil

Early modern literary scholar Gary Taylor, PhD, told Shakespeare authorship researcher Richard Waugaman, MD that he finds Waugaman's arguments unconvincing. In an August 19, 2014 email to Waugaman, Taylor said: "I simply find your reasoning, and your evidence, as unconvincing as those of Holocaust deniers, and other conspiracy theorists."

Waugaman told this Oberon reporter:
I’m delighted that a prominent Stratfordian has taken dead aim at us and has then shot himself in the foot. There’s now no doubt that for diehard Stratfordians like Gary Taylor, academic freedom means the freedom for them to silence dissent. We will no longer tolerate this.
Waugaman's article "The Psychology of Shakespeare Biography: An Update" had been accepted in January 2014 by the editors of the 2015 edition of the English and Italian journal Memoria di Shakespeare: a Journal of Shakespearean Studies, an edition that would be dedicated to the topic of Shakespeare biography. (See: Waugaman contributes to Italian journal)

But on August 18, 2014, Waugaman was told by Memoria di Shakespeare general editor Rosy Colombo Smith that the experienced co-editors who had enthusiastically accepted his article -- Lucianna Pire and Maria Valentini -- had "stepped down", that she and Gary Taylor were the new co-editors of the 2015 edition of the journal, and that they would not be publishing his article.

When Waugaman protested against the unfairness of dropping him from the edition, he received the message from Taylor quoted above, comparing Waugaman's reasoning to the odious arguments of Holocaust deniers -- a malicious comparison not unfamiliar to Waugaman and other authorship researchers. (See: Greenblatt sez sorry to Oxfordians)

 Taylor replied to Waugaman's protest in no uncertain terms:
This change is due to my own involvement in the volume. The editorial board was concerned about some of the contributions invited by the previous co-editors. I agreed to help by stepping in, with Professor Colombo, as new co-editor. But my acceptance was conditional on rejection of certain contributions, like yours, which seem to me profoundly unscholarly, and which would have the effect of undermining the credibility and status of other contributions to the volume.
Taylor, further, denounced Pire and Valentini: 
I understand that you are chargrined about the change of policy at the journal. But the previous co-editors, who contacted you, were themselves guilty of a breach of good faith, in committing the journal to positions conflicted with the intentions and desires of the journal's founders.
In a subsequent email, Waugaman told Taylor:
It has been only four months since both Stephen Greenblatt and Jonathan Bate apologized to me for having compared post-Stratfordians to Holocaust deniers. And now you make that repulsive comparison yourself. I can only assume your emotions have over-ridden your common decency. I know one fellow Oxfordian who lost more than 70 relatives in the Holocaust, and he finds that comparison especially disgusting.
Stratfordian David Ellis, author of The Truth About William Shakespeare: Fact, Fiction and Modern Biographies (Edinburgh University, 2012), (see: "UK professor says Shakespeare biographies are bunk") is also scheduled to appear in the 2015 Memoria di Shakespeare, but despite his criticism of Shakespeare biographers, has yet to feel the bite of Taylor's axe. Will Ellis' denial of alternate candidates for the production of Shakespeare's works protect Ellis from censorship? 

Versions of Waugaman's article have been published in the first edition of the post-Stratfordian journal Brief Chronicles 1 (2009) and in The Oxfordian (2012). The version accepted by Pire and Valentini for Memoria di Shakespeare 2015 can be read on the web at "The Psychology of Shakespearean Biography: An Update". Waugaman has added an afterword to the document describing his experience with Memoria di Shakespeare. A copy of Waugaman's afterword including the correspondence documenting this sad saga follows below.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Show me the data!

by Linda Theil

We Shakespeare lovers would be better served if supporters of the status quo would attempt to eliminate a distorting Stratfordian lens from their view of all things Shakespeare. Too often, information is presented as if the Stratfordian view were confirmed, when the truth is much more complex and much more interesting.

The Folger Shakespeare Library recently published on their webpage a promo of a talk on heraldry titled "Shakespeare's Coat of Arms . . . " by Kathryn Will. They said:
In 1596, Shakespeare secured a coat of arms for his father, thus earning himself the title "gentleman." But the herald who granted the coat faced attacks from his own colleagues for elevating a mere playwright to gentle status. How did Shakespeare, early modern heraldry officials, and their contemporaries view the relationship between heraldry and gentility? And have heraldry's meanings changed over the past few centuries? 
In this talk, scholar Kathryn Will explores the fascinating and volatile history of England's royal College of Arms, shedding light on quests for arms from the Bard through Kate Middleton. Read more about Kathryn's work at her website
The phrase “But the herald who granted the coat faced attacks from his own colleagues for elevating a mere playwright to gentle status.” caught my attention. To me, that statement indicates that the author of the statement has citations for documents showing that more than one of the herald’s colleagues made more than one attack on the herald for raising the “mere” playwright William Shakespeare to be a gentleman. Since I had never heard of these documents, I wrote to Folger public relations officer Garland Scott on July 18, 2014:
Since the grant [of arms] was made to John Shakespeare, I don’t know why any reference would have been made to being a playwright. If there is any contemporary documentation indicating the attacks were based on William Shakespeare being a “mere playwright” as you say, could you provide the quotes and sources?
Garland referred my query to Kathryn Will. When I didn’t hear from Will, I asked Scott if the statement had been fact-checked and if not, would the Folger be willing to repudiate the statement. Scott consulted further with Folger staff and replied in an email dated July 28, 2014:
. . . I followed up with Heather Wolfe and Nigel Ramsey, co-curators of our Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare’s England exhibition, with your questions about the short blurb for scholar Kathryn Will’s related lecture. The attack mentioned in the blurb happened after the death of John Shakespeare at which point the arms had passed to William Shakespeare as the eldest son. The attack was based not only on the fact that Brooke considered William to be a player, but also on the fact that John Shakespeare’s arms were too similar to other arms and he was not of a gentle enough background, so that it never should have been granted in the first place. Sources would be the Bodleian manuscript, the College of Arms manuscript with the colored arms, and the later version of the Brooke account at the Folger. Nigel Ramsay wrote a blog post on the topic:http://collation.folger.edu/2014/07/william-dethick-and-the-shakespeare-grants-of-arms/
There’s also information online at:http://www.folger.edu/Content/Whats-On/Folger-Exhibitions/Symbols-of-Honor-Heraldry-and-Family-History-/The-controversy-over-Shakespeares-grant-of-arms.cfm
So there was one colleague named Brooke and one attack, not multiples of either as one would assume from reading the original blurb where the plural for both was used. But where are the quotes and citations? I turned to Ros Barber, PhD, author of The Marlowe Papers and Shakespeare: The Evidence for advice. Barber replied in July 28 and July 29, 2014 emails:
What they're referring to, no doubt, is the note 'Shakespear ye player' on the copy of a page of the complaint document. As it says in Shakespeare: The Evidence, this is not an original document but a copy made 100 years later and even then the phrase is written in a different ink and a hand to the rest of the page. . . . 
Elisabeth Leedham-Green,  a handwriting expert from Cambridge University confirmed that in her view the hand was 'modern'. Folger manuscript curator, Heather Wolfe [whom I consulted for my book] said it was at least questionable. Your point is well made. The grant of arms was to the father not the son. I think it likely that 'Shakespear ye player' was an antiquarian's note.
. . .
 I can see that Garland is trying to be helpful and is giving a fairly full general purpose account, rather than academic (citations, etc.) Friendly and considered. It’s certainly the way most Strats read this evidence. For me it misses the main problem regarding the evidence as I raise in Shakespeare: The Evidence. The ONLY basis for the ‘player’ idea is that single phrase on a copy made 100 years later which we cannot tell is a true copy -- and the phrase itself may have been added later. The rest of the points made are just general points raised by Brooke re ALL the arms grants he was complaining about. Read Price and Matus for different takes on it.
I followed up with Diana Price’s Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography and Irvin Matus’ Shakespeare, In Fact and other sources and discovered that in 1602 one herald named Ralph Brooke accused the Garter King of Arms, Sir William Dethick of previously elevating 23 people to the gentry who should not have been elevated because their arms were too similar to existing coats of arms and/or because they were of low birth.

John Shakespeare, whose arms had been bestowed in 1596, was on Brooke’s list of 23 people. Brooke says nothing about William Shakespeare and nothing about playwrights. The sketched document that purportedly links William Shakespeare to the Brooke complaint never mentions playwrights, either.

This document, is described in Barber's Shakespeare: The Evidence, under the title "Shakespear ye player by garter (Appendix #A-030):
1602/c.1700 **Heraldic document**  Associated with Brooke’s complaint is a separate sheet entitled 'A Note of Some Coats & Crests’ which includes, on the top left corner, a drawing of the Shakspere arms, underneath which is written ‘Shakespear ye Player by Garter.’ It is *not* the original document, but is believed to have been copied from the original some hundred years later by Peter Le Neve, an officer of the College of Arms. (Folger Shakespeare Library, MS. V.a.350).
The document shows the Shakespeare arms sketched in the upper left corner of the paper with a notation underneath saying “Shakespear ye player” and on a second line “by Garter”. As Barber says in her email, “The ONLY basis for the ‘player’ idea is that single phrase on a copy made 100 years later which we cannot tell is a true copy -- and the phrase itself may have been added later.”

So, the Folger statement “But the herald who granted the coat faced attacks from his own colleagues for elevating a mere playwright to gentle status.” is inaccurate in the number of colleagues, the number of attacks and the reason for the attacks – which has nothing to do with writing plays. And the document linking "Shakespear ye player" to the Brooke complaint is questionable, based on testimony of the Folger's own expert.

Many published references to William Shakespeare are similarly misleading. Most readers assume that assertions about the Stratfordian attribution are backed by supporting documentation, documentation that often doesn’t exist. A recent playbill from a University of Michigan production confidently stated that Shakespeare attended grammar school in Stratford, a statement for which there is no documentation whatsoever.

Stratfordians should know that sloppy scholarship doesn't enhance the Stratfordian attribution of Shakespeare's work.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust distributes relics of the True Cedar Tree in USA

Actor Michael Scott and cast members of the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival production of A Midsummer Night's Dream display their plaque made from a cedar that grew in the garden of Shakespeare's birthplace. Photo courtesy Michael Scott

by Linda Theil


Buoyed by their success touting the Shakespeare beyond Doubt defense against anti-Stratfordian attacks at the Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada last year, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust returns to North America this summer. In a Jesuitical mission presumably designed to bolster Stratfordians against authorship apostasy, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Head of Research and Knowledge Paul Edmondson has been dispatched to America on a two month tour of fourteen Shakespeare festivals in fourteen states.

Accompanied by Paul Prescott, associate professor of English at the University of Warwick, and supported by a truly splendiferous array of mobile media, the Shakespeare missionaries began their tour on the Fourth of July in Kansas City and will end September 1 in Washington DC. A listing of their itinerary is included at the end of this post.

Edmondson said July 3, 2014 in “Shakespeare on the Road” post on the Birthplace Trust website Blogging Shakespeare:
Along the way, we speak to actors, audience members, creatives, community organizers, philanthropists and hot-dog sellers about what Shakespeare means to them and their community. During the next two months we will be gathering together material for a radio documentary, a book, and the international collections of the Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive.
Along their pilgrimage road, Edmondson is presenting each festival organization with a relic of the True Cedar Tree guaranteed to sustain American Shakespeare-lovers against anti-Stratfordian temptation.

Edmondson said:
We will be doing talks at each of the festival venues, telling the story via social media and presenting a 450th birthday gift to each of the festival partners in the form of a plaque from a cedar tree that used to grow in the garden of Shakespeare’s Birthplace (it had to be felled because it was becoming a danger to public safety). We are delighted that Greg Wyatt (Sculptor in Residence at St John the Divine Cathedral, New York) has designed, made and donated these beautiful objects.
Actor Michael Scott reported the New Orleans presentation on Twitter and Instagram on July 10:
Shakespeare on the Road just presented our company with a cedar plaque made from a tree that grew on the grounds of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon. They are here to experience the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival on a journey to explore Bard in the USA. Follow their journey at www.shakespeareontheroad.com. Come see the last two shows of a Midsummer Night’s Dream this weekend. Tickets at www.neworleansshakespeare.org at The Shakespeare Festival at Tulane.
Edmondson and Prescott are accompanied on their trip by new media gurus A.J. and Melissa Leon of Misfit, Inc. who say on their website:
We have traveled all over the globe and produced workshops for brands and organizations that are dead serious about using the web to tell compelling stories, connect with their tribe and solve interesting problems. Our workshops are not cheap, but they will help you to take over the world. 
Jonathan Fields on the Good Life Project website refers to the couple as ". . . a tactical strike team for really interesting organizations."

The entire trek is being documented on the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust site Blogging Shakespeare, as well as a site dedicated to the project called Shakespeare on the Road. Edmondson and Prescott are sending dispatches from the heartland posted daily to the site, as well as sending messages via a Twitter account titled Bard in the USA @ShakespeareBT, and an Instagram identity, also Bard in the USA.
--
UPDATE: July 14, 2014

For comedien Keir Cutler's view of Stratford's historical obsession with Shakespearean trees, see his new video published yesterday on YouTube titled "Shakespeare Authorship: The Mulberry Tree" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoPuDQ1Vabg

* * * 
Resources:
See an Oberon report of Edmondson’s visit to Stratford Ontario last summer at

Shakespeare on the Road posts to date:


Edmondson: Our Partner Festivals and itinerary are as follows:

Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Kansas City, MO 4 – 6 July 2014
New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane, New Orleans, LA 9–11 July
Shakespeare at Winedale, Winedale, TX 13 – 15 July
Utah Shakespeare Festival, Cedar City, UT 17 – 19 July
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga, CA 24 – 26 July
Livermore, CA 27 July
Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, OR 29 – 31 July
Montana Shakespeare Festival, Bozeman, MT 1 – 5 August
Door Shakespeare Festival, Door, WI 7 August
Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Chicago, IL 8 – 9 August
Harlem Shakespeare Festival, NYC, NY 10 – 14 August
Shakespeare and Co., Lenox, MA 15 – 17 August
Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Stratford, ON 19 – 21 August
Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Nashville, TN 23 – 25 August
American Shakespeare Center, Staunton, VA 27 – 29 August
Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington DC 29 Aug – 1 Sept




Saturday, July 12, 2014

Trevor-Roper told Ogburn: Stratfordian Shakespeare "implausible"

Hugh Trevor-Roper circa 1980 at Oxford. Photo by Graham Harrison courtesy The Sunday Times


Was Hugh Trevor-Roper an Authorship Doubter?
Letter to Charlton Ogburn, Jr., discovered by Alexander Waugh,
confirms that he was


by Oberon guest blogger John M. Shahan, Chairman of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition


Most Oxfordians probably know that Hugh Trevor-Roper, (1914-2003) Baron Dacre of Glanton, Regius Professor of History at Oxford University and the British intelligence officer who tracked Hitler during World War II, wrote an article in which he marveled at the strange elusiveness of William Shakespeare. The following famous quote appears in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? (Shahan and Waugh, eds., 2013) and is paraphrased in the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt:
Of all the immortal geniuses of literature, none is personally so elusive as William Shakespeare. It is exasperating, and almost incredible, that he should be so. After all, he lived in the full daylight of the English Renaissance, in the well-documented reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. He wrote thirty-six plays and [154] highly personal sonnets. He was connected with some of the best-known figures in the most conspicuous court in English history. Since his death, and particularly in the last century, he has been subjected to the greatest battery of organised research that has ever been directed upon a single person. And yet the greatest of all Englishmen, after this tremendous inquisition, still remains so close a mystery that even his identity can still be doubted. (“What’s in a Name?” Réalités, Nov 1962.)
So Trevor-Roper says that Shakespeare’s identity “can still be doubted,” but was he a doubter himself? One might surmise that he probably was, but since he didn’t actually say so it hasn’t been clear, until now. In July 2013, searching through the Trevor-Roper files on Shakespeare in the archives at Christchurch College, Oxford, Alexander Waugh found a letter that Trevor-Roper wrote to Charlton Ogburn, Jr., (1911-1998) dated 21 February, 1981, stating his view. Here are some excerpts:
My view is that the available evidence that the plays and poems were the work of William Shakespeare of Stratford is weak and unconvincing … not a shred of solid evidence connects the man with the works during his lifetime; the association of such works with such a man is, on the face of it, implausible; and the posthumous association of them, in the First Folio and in the Stratford Tomb, is inconclusive since there are legitimate questions concerning the motivation and production of the Folio and the original form of the Tomb. There are many suspicions legitimately adhering to all the later statements associating the man with the works, including the statements of Ben Jonson. Altogether, I consider the evidence of association to be slender, weak and implausible. There is not a single testimony which could not easily be re-interpreted if solid evidence were to turn up that the works were written by another man… In these circumstances of legitimate doubt, I believe that the proper course is to return to square one and examine the problem ab initio, without any preconceptions… I am heretical in that I allow that there is a real problem of authorship… I would not be surprised if evidence were to be discovered which destroyed the orthodox case.
He could hardly have made it any clearer where he stood, and just three years later Ogburn published The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth and the Reality. Reading Trevor-Roper’s letter today, the present generation of Oxfordians can take pride in the fact that such an important British historian shared our doubts about Shakspere and expressed them so well.

* * *

Graham Harrison photo of Hugh Trevor-Roper from The Sunday Times book review "One Hundred Letters from Hugh Trevor-Roper . . . " dated Jan. 26, 2014 http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/culture/books/non_fiction/article1365518.ece

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tom and Joy report from Seattle

Tom Townsend in Seattle, WA

Tom and Joy Townsend are settling into their new life in Seattle. They plan to close on a home in the upper Queen Anne area on July 2, and they had lunch with several members of the Seattle Shakespeare Oxford Society yesterday. Tom said:
The SSOS is made up of great, smart, well-read people (just like Oberon!). Joy and I enjoyed speaking with each of them.  . . . Meetings for the rest of the year have been planned. There is a lot of Shakespeare performed (I’m told) here in Seattle. Some were discussing having meetings just before or after these performances.
Even the weather has been welcoming! Tom reported:
Since we’ve been here the temps have been in the mid 60s to low 70s since we arrived on May 15. There has been scant rain! We continue to miss everyone from the Oberon group and wish everyone the best.
It's good to hear from our good friends and good to know they are enjoying their adventure in the northwest.

International Fountain in Lower Queen Anne, Seattle, WA 
Photos courtesy Tom and Joy Townsend

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Joyrich is a lead donor to new SOF research grant project

by Linda Theil

Oberon Chair Richard Joyrich, MD

Oberon Chair Richard Joyrich, MD, is a Lead Donor to the new Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship Research Grant Program announced June 10 by SOF President John Hamill. The SOF intends to make two to four cash grants to scholars and researchers for the purpose of developing new knowledge bearing on the Shakespeare authorship question. Hamill said:
. . . the (Research Grant) program will begin with $20,000 per year in award funds, half from our endowment and half from members and friends. The grants will be given to members, so please join if you have not already. We have also initiated a Lead Donors Program for those who donate $1,000 or more for this purpose. So far, we are pleased to announce that Ben August, Bonner and Jack Cutting, and Richard Joyrich are Lead Donors.
Joyrich is a past-president of the former Shakespeare Oxford Society and he currently serves on the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship board of trustees. Joyrich said the research grant program was approved by the SOF board at their April 6, 2014 meeting. He said:
I decided to donate because I think that ongoing research into our favorite subject is very important and it sometimes cannot be accomplished due to lack of funds. A group such as the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship should not exist just to provide newsletters and journals. We need to be proactive in trying to spread the word and give credibility to discussing the authorship question and getting it accepted as a legitimate academic pursuit. I hope that the long term future of the SOF Research Grant Program will be to continue and allow such credibility to happen.
Deadline for proposals for the initial round of SOF research grants is August 30, 2014. A selection committee that includes Katherine Chiljan, Bonner Cutting, Ramon Jimenez, John Hamill and Don Rubin will announce awards by November 30, 2014. For a complete description of the program and the rules for participating, see the "Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship Research Grant Program" on SOF website.

Those who wish to donate to the SOF Research Grant Program may contribute online at "Research Grant Program" on the SOF website.

Grant seekers must be SOF members to apply. For information on SOF membership, see "Join the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship" on the SOF website. 

Resources:
SOF News, http://www.shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/new-research-grant-program-established/
SOF Research Grant Program, http://www.shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/shakespeare-oxford-fellowship-research-grant-program/
Oberon report on Toronto 2013 conference, http://oberonshakespearestudygroup.blogspot.com/2013/10/images-from-toronto-day-four.html
Join SOF, http://www.shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/store/products/membership/
Donate to SOF Research Grant Program, http://www.shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/research-grant-program/

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Oberon reports on Jarmusch's "Only Lovers . . . "


Trailer for Jim Jarmusch's new film, "Only Lovers Left Alive"

by Linda Theil


I went to see Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” last week at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, where the film was showing in a limited USA release. Our readers may recall that Oberon reported on this film almost exactly a year ago when Jarmusch screened “Only Lovers . . .” at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. In an interview in Cannes, Jarmusch and actor John Hurt -- who plays Christopher Marlowe in the film – expressed anti-Stratfordian views on the Shakespeare authorship question. For a video of this interview, see "Director Jim Jarmusch and actor John Hurt proclaim anti-Stratfordian views at Cannes Film Festival" dated May 30, 2013.

Jarmusch's film depicts Kit Marlowe as the true author of the Shakespeare canon, and the topic is not a sideline, as I had imagined from preliminary discussion, but is a key point of the film. In one of the film's few extended dialogues, the vampire Eve and her dear friend, fellow vampire, and sustenance provider Marlowe engage in a byplay wherein Eve tempts Marlowe to astound the world by revealing his authorship of the Shakespeare canon. "It would cause such thrilling chaos," she says.

I do not pretend to know what this very beautiful and slightly boring movie is about. Like a similarly gorgeous film, Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" that was released last year, the story is slight and the dialogue almost brutal in its truncated pointlessness. Yet these films are the frontline of culture and Jarmusch's inclusion of the Shakespeare authorship question documents the emerging vitality of this haunting issue that we, and others, find so compelling. 

"Only Lovers Left Alive" will be released on DVD Sept. 15, 2014.

Resources: 
http://oberonshakespearestudygroup.blogspot.com/2013/05/director-jim-jarmusch-and-actor-john.html

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Read the mystery of the grain dealer in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung


Hamlet by Lord Ronald Gower (1845-1916) at Stratford-upon-Avon. 
Photograph by Robert Freidus courtesy of Victorian Web.

by Linda Theil

Neue Shake-speareGesellschaft (New Shakespeare Society) board member Hanno Wember reports from Hamburg, Germany that an article in the Travel section of the large circulation daily newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung took a non-Stratfordian look at the spurious claims of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust at Stratford-upon-Avon. The article titled "Das Ratsel des Getreindehandlers Will Shakspere" ("The mystery of the grain dealer Will Shakespeare") by Roland D. Gerste was published April 25, 2014. Wember said, "FAZ was strictly Stratfordian in recent years. Now this!"

The long, illustrated article criticizes the inauthentic aspects of the Shakespeare birthplace exhibits and discusses the fervor of the Stratfordian point-of-view (translation by Hanno Wember):
One does not have to be a supporter of obscure conspiracy theories nor, necessarily, as is Derek Jacobi -- an Oxfordian who assumes Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, is the true author. It is enough to visit Stratford as a “doubter“, and to regard the visit as a trail in the contest of dogma and criticism. What a tingling sensation seizes the doubter when reading convoluted explanations to non-authentic exhibits! And how exciting to see the reactions of the official tourist guides, if you put those questions that are not well liked here! The faces of the mostly young employees of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust fluctuate between irony, consternation and helplessness, sometimes even associated with a little aggressiveness as soon as they are faced with insubordination. 
A translation of the article webpages is available from Google.

See also: Henry James' "The Birthplace"

Resources:
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/reise/shakespeare-geburtstag-das-raetsel-des-getreidehaendlers-von-stratford-upon-avon-12905668.html
http://www.henryjames.org.uk/birthp/home.htm
http://www.shakespeare-today.de/




Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Oberons said goodbye to Townsends at April meeting

Tom and Joy Townsend

Oberons said goodbye last night to our great friends Tom and Joy Townsend who depart May 9 for Seattle, Washington. Tom has served as treasurer of Oberon since its very first meeting in 1999 until he relinquished his treasury duties to serve as co-chair and chair of Oberon for the past two years. Tom's charm and intelligence have been mainstays of our Michigan band and we will miss him and Joy more than we can say. But they have already been welcomed by the Seattle Oxfordian contingent, and Tom is scheduled to present a paper at the Seattle Shakespeare Oxford Society. Words cannot express our deepest wishes for their very great happiness in their new home.

We all celebrated Shakespeare's 450th UN-birthday together with a delicious UN-birthday cake!
Shakespeare's UN-birthday cake!

Celebrating Shakespeare's 450th UN-birthday April 28, 2014 at the Bloomfield Twp. Library: 
Rosey Hunter, Rey Perez, John Rumierz,
Richard Joyrich, Tom Townsend, Joy Townsend, Sharon Hunter
(Present but not in photo: George Hunter and Linda Theil)

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Concordia Conference-Days 3 and 4

by Richard Joyrich

Day Three (Saturday, April 12):

The day began at 9 AM with Roger Stritmatter on Small Latin and Less Greek: Anatomy of a Misquotation. Roger discussed his take on how the First Folio came to be published. In this, he follows generally what Peter Dickson and others have been saying about the Spanish Marriage Crises of 1622-23 when there was an intention on the part of James I to marry his son Charles to the Spanish Infanta Maria Anna (daughter of the king). This proposed match to a Catholic was opposed by the powerful Protestant nobility, among which were the two "Incomparable Brethren", William and Philip Herbert, to whom the First Folio was dedicated. It seems clear that the publication of the First Folio at this time was, in some way, a political statement by this court faction. 

It was also at this time that there was the big push to substitute William of Stratford as the author of the plays. Ben Jonson was hired to help in this endeavor. Roger discussed the form in which Jonson's Dedication to Shakespeare in the First Folio took. It is in the form of what was called a "Triumph". There is a 16-line Exordium at the beginning (containing references to "ignorance", "blind affection" and "crafty malice") and then a 48-line Narratio (in which the line "And though thou hadst small Latin and Less Greek…" appears) and then a 16-line Peroration (containing "Looke how the father's face lives in his issue", i.e. the true Shakespeare is to be discovered in the works).

Roger then demonstrated that Jonson's line about "small Latin and less Greek" is a mixed contrary-to-fact conditional. That is, Jonson is not saying that Shakespeare really had no real Latin or Greek training. The words "though thou hadst" actually mean "even if you had" and Jonson is acknowledging Shakespeare's mastery of these languages, but that this is not the only reason for his literary greatness.