30 Jun 2012
The specter haunting Shakespeare studies is not the pseudo-question of the authorshipi of the plays. The genlte lunatics who wants to spend their time making claims for the Earl of Oxford, or Marlowe, or Johnson, or someone else, will always exist, and their brand of quiet craziness is fine, because it harms no one, and you need not pay them no never mind.
The specter haunting Shakespeare studies is other. With the near-total collapse of effective training in reading and writing, those who come to college to read, and study, Shakespeare, are less and less able to do so, and the number of those capable of reading Shakespeare shrinks, and the number of those capable of reading and understanding Shakespeare shrinks even further, and from an audience of a few million, in the English-speaking world, Shakespeare's real audience must now be numbered in the tens of thousands. Oh, "Shakespeare studies" in what is now the industry of higher education More graduate students, desperately turning out monographs that neither they, nor their dissertation directors, nor anyone else, wants to read, in the hopes of obtaining -- what? -- a teaching job at schools where the students need not Shakespeare but remedial reading, if they are lucky.
What Shakespeare -- forget about Shakespeare studies -- needs, is much better training, for young children, in elementary school, in reading and writing. That is where the mess begins, and by college it is too late. And the circumambient society does the written word, and hence does Shakespeare, no good. But no one can deal with this, everyone is overwhelmed, and the belief that everything can be made up in our comically self-described "world-class" universites is baseless. By then it's too late. Too late, too late, too late.
That's the specter that should be haunting, Shakespeare studies -- if the purpose of those studies is something other than academic preferment or, to come round again at last to the rough best with which we started, the harmless hobby some have of trying to assign authorship to this or tnat Elizabethan-age university wit or titled twit.
1 Jul 2012
Elliott A Green
To be sure, anyone can & does read Shakespeare as he likes. But can one deny that Shakespeare takes a consistently aristocratic point of view? And that one of his main interests is the plight of the legitimate ruler as against the illegitimate? Does this point of view best fit the yeoman of Stratford? Or Edward, Earl of Oxford?
1 Jul 2012
David P. Gontar
Dear Mr. Fitzgerald:
A trembling hand makes for such typographical errors as mar your ungracious comments. It will be refreshing to find someone commenting on the authorship question who can avoid the tiresome ad hominem manner you affect. The sad "lunatic" epithet may not prove to be nearly as illuminating as you think, but it may be the best you can muster. As for specters, I cheerfully agree: there can be more than one. Just keep in mind that while you and your friends cling to name calling to bury the authorship issue, doubts about the legend of sleepy Stratford-Upon-Avon continue to mount. The better path may be to join the conversation as an adult rather than throw your rattle.
1 Jul 2012
David P. Gontar
One additional point should be considered. There is no evidence in the remarks of Mr. Fitzgerald that he actually digested the essay "False Radicals." The purpose there is not to defeat the Stratford authorial candidate, but to respond to post-structural feminism as a device used to come to terms with Shakespeare's comedies. It is observed en passant that Stratfordian rebuttals usually exhibit a lamentable ad hominem form, placing them well outside rational discourse. In the case of Mr. Fitzgerald, that observation is wonderfully prophetic, for this is precisely what he does, calling those who question the Stratfordian dogma "lunatics." We sincerely thank him for proving the essay correct as to past and future! Who knows? He may decide to sit down and read it.