Friday, June 19, 2009

Authorship as metaphor

On June 14, 2009 the New York Times published an article in their sports section titled "Author, Author - Did A.W. Tillinghast Really Design Bethpage Black"  by Charles McGrath. The story compared the question of who designed this year's U.S. Open (golf) course to the authorship issue. The Shakespeare authorship issue has not only "seeped into the culture", as SOS President Matthew Cossolotto has said, it has become recognized enough for a sports reporter to use it as a metaphor for the question of whole really designed the U.S. Open golf course.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal. Today the New York Times. Tomorrow the world. (Le Monde?)

In any event, the article cried out for a response, so here is the one I sent:

To the Editor:

Congratulations to the New York Times for putting Shakespeare where he belongs--on the sports page ("Author, Author," June 15). Golf, no less. Infact, there is evidence that Shakespeare was quite an athlete himself, more in the line of winning tilting championships and receiving awards from the Queen. And don't forget hawking. And tennis.

I have only one quibble with your application of the authorship issue to the question of who designed this year's U.S. Open course, Bethpage Black (which sounds more like a Noel Coward character). It is that the Oxfordians, not the Strats, appeal to textual evidence to illustrate the experiences Shakespeare drew upon to write the plays, experiences sadly lacking in the biography of the Stratford glover's son.

Also, the true Shakespeare was much like golf course designer A. W. Tillinghast, "a rakish high-liver, a drinker,...a backer of failed Broadway musicals." Well, maybe not Broadway. Maybe not musicals either, but clearly a backer of acting companies as was his father before him.

In any case, Shakespeare's genius encompassed all sports, including golf. After all, we know that even as Brutus was working on controlling a mean fade, "the unkindest cut of all," he says, "Good words are better than bad strokes." Even Caesar would have agreed with that.

Thomas Hunter, Ph.D.

No comments: