Saturday, June 15, 2013

Shahan exposes an industry in denial

by Linda Theil

I received Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? Exposing an Industry in Denial (Llumina Press, May 23, 2013) edited by Shakespeare Authorship Coalition director John Shahan and Alaxander Waugh from Amazon today. My initial examination reveals a book of monumental import to the Shakespeare authorship inquiry. This book is a  comprehensive report on the current state of anti-Stratfordian commentary. Divided into two sections,  the first section is a series of twelve essays by prominent anti-Stratfordian researchers:  A J  Pointon, PhD; Frank Davis, MD; Ramon Jimenez, Bonner Miller Cutting, Alexander Waugh, Thomas Regnier, JD,LLM; Earl Showerman, MD; John Rollett, MA, PhD; and Richard Whalen. This section covers the topic of why there is reasonable doubt about the attribution of Shakespeare’s work to William Shaksper of Stratford.

The second section is a complete reproduction of the anti-Strat response to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s 2011 “Sixty Minutes with Shakespeare”. Shahan organized a comprehensive rebuttal that appeared on the SAC website and is now reproduced in Shahan's SBD? Exposing an Industry in Denial. Oberon co-founder Richard Joyrich, MD is featured with John Shahan in the SAC response to "Sixty Minutes . . ." giving a brilliant rebuttal to Stratfordian A.J. Leon's answer to question #14:If Shakespeare is a fraud, what about the historical evidence? excerpted below.

In addition, four appendices include Bonner Miller Cutting’s groundbreaking article on Shaksper’s will, Ramon Jimenez reasoning on stylometrics and the Hemming & Condell letters in the First Folio. The fourth appendix is Donald Hayes’, PhD, well-reasoned and brilliantly presented article on social-network theory and the absence of literary tributes to Shaksper upon his death in 1616. Hayes concludes in his article: 

This network analysis has established Shakespeare’s central place inthat small 16th and 17th century community of London dramatists. For nearly twenty years, he was near or at the center of a dense network of interpersonal relations, ensuring that all nineteen of his peers would have known Shakespeare’s identity. According to network theory, if it was Shakespeare who died in Stratford in 1616, his high level of centrality would have assured many tributes from his peers. The absence of tributes undermines what is already a modest and heavily disputed evidentiary case for Shakspere being Shakespeare. The absence of their tributes encourages non-Stratfordians to seek Shakespeare’s identy elsewhere. Unless a new, well-documented and far more plausible explanation can be developed for this silence of his peers, the odds that the man from Stratford grew up to become the master poet-dramatist William Shakespeare have fallen to the level ofimprobable.
Notably lacking in Shahan’s book is any reference to Prince Tudor in
any of his incarnations. In his introduction, Shahan says:

This book is about evidence and arguments that contradict claims that there is “no room for doubt” that Mr. Shakspere of Stratford wrote the works of William Shakespeare. It is not about who we think the real author was, or what motivated him to remain hidden. It has nothing to do with the alternative scenario presented in the feature film Anonymous. Those looking for alternative candidates and sensational scenarios should look elsewhere. Our aim is a scholarly presentation of the case for “reasonable doubt” about Shakspere to make it understandable to the public and to the students to whom this book is dedicated. The only alternative we offer is that the name “William Shakespeare” was a pen name of some other person who chose to conceal his identity.
Of course, Shahan refers to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s new
book, a Stratfordian catechism titled Shakespeare Beyond Doubt edited
by Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson of the SBT. Their "Sixty Minutes
with Shakespeare" and this new work were created to counter the
publicity from Roland Emmerich’s anti-Stratfordian fictional account of Shakespeare’s life, the 2011 film Anonymous. The SBT drumbeat mustered Shahan’s energies to organize a comprehensive rebuttal against the circular and hollow arguments produced by the Stratfordian establishment. For that we owe the SBT a debt of gratitude. For his leadership, Shahan will be numbered among the heroes in the search for Shakespeare’s identity.

Excerpt from Exposing an Industry in Denial
question 14: if shakespeare is a fraud, What about the historical 
[AJ Leon, Senior Digital Advisor to The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, replies for the SBT]
What I cannot understand is the way people who say he didn’t write the work have to ignore all the evidence that shows he did. Let’s get this story straight.
We aren’t talking about a belief that can be interpreted differently depending on our point of view. The evidence for William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon is not circumstantial. It is factual and multifaceted. Sure, we don’t have personal letters or diary entries, but that’s not all that unusual for people of that period. At least fourteen other writers mentioned him by name as a playwright and poet and discussed his work. Printers and publishers worked with him. Seven of his plays were co-authored for God’s sake. Readers, actors, and theatre audiences were part of the living and breathing testimony of thousands of people. On his death he was memorialized as a writer, and his reputation grew. To claim that Shakespeare of Stratford didn’t write the plays is no less than to deny history and slap the greatest writer the world has ever known in the face.
doubter response:
First, yes, many people do say that “he did not write the works;” but what we all agree on is that there’s “reasonable doubt,” so it is a legitimate question for people to pursue. The SBT should stop trying to stigmatize and suppress a legitimate historical question.
Second, we do not “ignore” evidence that suggests he did. For example, the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt outlines “four main reasons to identify Mr. Shakspere … with the author William Shakespeare.” It says they 
seem to amount to a prima facie case for him. But it explains why each of the four is problematic, and then outlines some reasons why “We Say the Evidence Does Not Fit.” What we can’t understand is why Leon ignores it.
Third, it is extremely unusual that we have not a single letter in Mr. Shakspere’s hand. If AJ Leon thinks otherwise, he is the one who is ignoring the evidence. He should read Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography, by Diana Price (esp. “Literary Paper Trails”).
Fourth, the fourteen other writers who, “mentioned him by name as a playwright and poet and discussed his work,” never associate him with Stratford, and never indicate that they knew or met him personally.
Fifth, no document shows that the author worked directly with printers and publishers. He may have, but this says nothing about who he was. If such people keep the identities of pseudonymous authors and ghost-writers secret today, why wouldn’t they have then?
Sixth, it is not certain that any of the plays was co-authored; but even if some were, it’s not certain that the collaborators knew the author personally, or knew his true identity. Plays can be started and completed by different authors working independently. They can be written by one and revised by another, or completed, but revised posthumously. Any of these could easily account for several jarring inconsistencies in certain plays. It’s also hard to distinguish collaboration from an author revising his own early works. The more scholars 
claim collaboration, the harder it is to explain the absence of letters, or other documentation of the alleged collaboration, especially with a man in Stratford. 
Seventh, there’s no “living and breathing testimony of thousands of people.” Nonsense!
Eighth, on his death the Stratford man was not “memorialized as a writer,” although many poets and playwrights of the time were, sometimes within days of their deaths. Francis Beaumont, for example, died three months after Shakspere, received many tributes and was interred in Westminster Abbey. No tributes 
exist for Shakespeare.
Ninth, we have as much respect for the author Shakespeare, whoever he was, as anyone. It is disgraceful that AJ Leon uses, and the SBT condones, such inflammatory language.
Tenth, Leon has misrepresented the issue, the evidence, our positions and our motives—all-too-typical of Stratfordians; if the evidence is so clear, why the need for such tactics?
— Richard Joyrich, M.D., President, Shakespeare Oxford Society
— John M. Shahan, Chairman and CEO, Shakespeare Authorship Coalition