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1.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare Beyond Doubt - Evidence? Absolutely Not!, 29 July 2013
This review is from: Shakespeare beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy (Paperback)
Reading this book I was reminded of a quote attributed to Dorothy Parker: 'This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly; it should be thrown with great force!' The book claims to present evidence that William Shakspere, the glover's son from Stratford- upon-Avon wrote the plays and poems published under the name 'Shakespeare.' It doesn't; and there is a simple reason for this - there is not one shred of real evidence that connects the Stratford man with the writing.

Stanley Wells demonstrates his complete contempt for anyone daring to question the orthodox position by dubbing doubters 'anti-Shakespearians.' This is a childish insult. In my experience doubters are certainly not anti-Shakespeare. Of course he is able to make this remark because of the Stratfordians' refusal to accept that there is a difference between 'Shakespeare' and 'Shakspere.'

In an earlier book, 'Shakespeare for All Time,' Wells tells us that the name first appears as 'Gulielmus, filius Johannes Shakspere. This bit is true. He then goes on to say that it is in Latin and translates as 'William. son of John Shakespeare.' This is a trick to confuse people into thinking that the Stratford family name was 'Shakespeare.' It wasn't, and this sleight of hand fools no-one. It's been shown conclusively that the Stratford family stuck, with one or two slight variations, to 'Shakspere,' and never used 'Shakespeare.' (See 'The Man Who Never Was Shakespeare,' A. J. Pointon) On the other hand, 'Shakspere' never once appeared on the plays or poems - it was always 'Shakespeare,' or 'Shake-speare.' This is important, because if only the Stratfordians would begin to acknowledge this distinction they might also start to admit the possibility, which many scholars now recognise, that 'Shakespeare' and 'Shakspere' are two different people.

So much could be said about each essay in this disappointingly unscholarly book, but this review is long enough already.

Just one last point. The front cover seems singularly appropriate, showing, as it does, a fictitious Shakespeare from a fictitious story!
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Showing 1-10 of 20 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Jul 2013 12:05:08 BDT
As spelling wasn't standardise tell Doctor Johnson's Dictionary came along many years after Shakespeare's death, you cannot go on any form of spelling of any person's name to question if the person was the person refered to in any document. Shakespeare is just the modern spelling of "Shakspere". Indeed Christopher Marlowe could have been really called "Marley" if you used your same logic.
Also vicars when writing down names often recorded the name as how it sounded to them so even if John's name was "Shakespeare" he could have prounced it the other way.
This of course doesn't prove the Shakespeare case, just that he is the man Ben Jonson (Johnson) mentions in the 1623 works.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Jul 2013 15:39:44 BDT
Mac Cooper says:
You are right about the non-standard spelling, which makes it even more remarkable that the Stratford family was so consistent in the spelling of their name. (see Pointon 2011) When plays were published with a name it was always 'Shakespeare' or 'Shake-speare.' Not once does the name 'Shakspere' appear on a play or poem. Ben Jonson dropped the 'h' from his name deliberately. No-one seems quite sure why; possibly to signal his new career as a playwright. The Stratfordians, wary of examining them too closely, take (or pretend to take) the dedications in the First Folio at face value. Scholars who have studied them find them full of ambiguities, deception, and subterfuge. Jonson was a master at ambiguity!

Posted on 23 Aug 2013 20:57:17 BDT
Stephen says:
There is a great deal of evidence connecting WS with his plays. There is not a shred of credible evidence that would link any of the loony 'conspiracy' theories with any of the actual plays. What I always find most startling is the way you lot easily dismiss the testimony of Shakespeare's colleagues, friends, and even detractors when they get in the way of your crackpot theories.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Aug 2013 21:15:32 BDT
Mac Cooper says:
Oh please! We're not going down this road again, surely! Nobody is denying that Shakespeare wrote the plays. This is the whole point: 'Shakespeare' wrote the plays. The question is, who was writing under this pseudonym. It almost certainly was not William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon. There is not one scrap of evidence to connect him to the plays and poems.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Sep 2013 14:04:13 BDT
My favorite spelling of the name is "Shake-Speare." I've seen only one instance of it. Significantly, in Ben Jonson's 1616 First Folio of his plays and poems. It's how he spells the name in the list of actors in the first performance of Seajanus, in 1603.

There's absolutely no documentary evidence that "Shake-Speare" acted after 1604, the year Edward de Vere died. Anyone who knows Jonson's work knows he delighted in ambiguity. The actor "Shakespeare," like the author "Shakespeare," was probably Edward de Vere.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Sep 2013 13:22:51 BDT
Mac Cooper says:
It's a matter of speculation why Ben Jonson used this version of the name with two capitals. Many Quartos were published before the First Folio bearing the name 'Shake-speare,' and of course we have the more famous example of the Sonnets, published in 1609. The two very significant facts are: no play or poem was ever published under the name 'Shakspere'; and William Shakspere of Stratford never, in his whole life, used the name 'Shakespeare,' (or 'Shake-speare.')

A strong case can be made for Edward de Vere with, to my mind, the following proviso: he is recorded as being arrogant, thoughtless, unfeeling, and profligate: he got away with murdering a servant and treated his wife abominably. Unless it could be shown that he underwent a sea-change and became a great, fair-minded humanitarian when he sat down to write, for me, he is not in the running.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Sep 2013 16:02:57 BDT
Thank you for what you acknowledge in your last comment. No disagreement as to de Vere's dark side. But I don't agree that disqualifies him for being the author of the canon. Freud noticed that we want the author to be as great as the works; he thought that's why we prefer Shakspere, since so little is known about him.

Posted on 5 Sep 2013 21:46:55 BDT
Miles says:
Shakespeare Beyond Doubt - Evidence? Absolutely!
Why do so many sad people try to boost their self esteem by believing they have access to a hidden truth that has eluded experts and academics for centuries, and then feel free to criticise genuine and respected academics for producing an "unscholarly book", a scholarly book being something they would hardly recognise if it fell and hit them on the head, let alone read one.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Sep 2013 21:51:20 BDT
Last edited by the author on 1 Dec 2013 02:38:22 GMT
Like most dichotomies, I believe this attempted dichotomy between Stratfordian "experts and academics" and authorship skeptics is a false one.

From past experience, I realize I am about to set myself up for the charge of immodesty. But how else to challenge this claim that all authorship doubters are non-academics?

Okay, get ready to accuse me of immodesty. Georgetown University lists the most recent 50 faculty publications on a given topic. Two-thirds of the ones on Shakespeare are by yours truly, as are 25 of the most recent 26 articles on that list.

http://explore.georgetown.edu/publications/index.cfm

Okay, go ahead and accuse me of self-promotion, etc.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Sep 2013 23:41:55 BDT
I realize the authorship question is even more controversial in the UK than it is in the States. Here, we have a tradition of freedom of speech. And we have the ideal of academic freedom, which is unfortunately severely restricted when it comes to researching Shakespeare's identity. Some Shakespeare journals censor the publication of any evidence that undermines the traditional author.

Sad.
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