Friday, April 19, 2013

Where There’s A Will There’s a Won’t

500 years later and Shakespeare is still a growth industry. So much ado about who wrote those words that trip so mellifluously off our tongue. For most of us it was the Bard from Stratford, not the titled scholars, who authored 37 plays (plus or minus)and over 150 sonnets. Only he knew how to write for the actors and had a thorough knowledge of the theater.

However for card-carrying conspiracy-theorists it all comes down to pedigree. Show them a commoner-genius and they’ll show you a hoax. Every question unanswered invites an alternative narrative. Every name is an anagram. Every text contains a cipher. Speculation is a feast for those who think in such terms.
It’s time we settled all this. Now hear them out:
Here’s the rub. How could this Stratford actor and merchant have known so much about Venice and Verona, about the succession of royalty, about human nature, legal affairs and speak the King’s English?  As sure as Henry the 8th followed Henry the 7th  how could a mere actor/tradesman have seen into the heart of his fellow men and women and tower over the greatest minds of his day?
Did he bring home the Bacon? Francis, that is? Isn’t Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford a likely choice? After all his name, de Vere, is hidden inside any line containing the word, ever.  And then there is the case for Christopher Marlowe who died in a barroom brawl pre-maturely…or did he?

Shakespeare was obviously the invention of a scholar to the academy-born. The plays and sonnets must have been penned by a man of erudition with advanced degrees of higher learning. Someone like George W Bush who graduated from Yale and Harvard or a man with a searching mind like Donald Trump, graduate of Wharton Business School and University of Pennsylvania. Men of distinction. Not a 14 year-old dropout, surely.

Without a doubt Abraham Lincoln could never have written the Gettysburg Address. This Daniel Day-Lewis lookalike did not go past the 5th grade. He couldn’t possibly have scribbled the most eloquent and concise words emanating from a public figure in our nation’s history. Those ten sentences rival other presidential utterances such as, You’re doing a great job, Brownie or those immortal words from Richard Nixon, I am not a crook.
The mystery still persists as to the real author of Huckleberry Finn. Certainly it couldn’t have been Samuel Clemens whose formal education ended when he was twelve. Yet Faulkner must have been taken in when he called Mark Twain the Father of American literature.

Any literary skeptic might also question the poems of Emily Dickinson. How could an Amherst recluse be the author who challenged the literary conventions of her day and arguably invented modern poetry? Surely it must have been some prominent Harvard scholar who used Dickinson’s name as a front not to expose his radical approach.
Wherefore art thou, Folio? Your words would smell as sweet no matter their attribution.

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