Saturday, February 16, 2008

WSJ: It's all "skimble-skamble stuff"

[Creative Commons photo here. ("Skimble" is, a quick google reports, evidently the name of one of the felines from the musical Cats)]

Today's Wall Street Journal reviews two recent Shakespeare biographies: Charles Nicholl's The Lodger Shakespeare and Bill Bryson's Shakespeare: The World as Stage. Nicholl and Bryson, the reviewer says,

are both "Stratfordians" -- that is, they assume that "Shakespeare" was the man from Stratford and not Francis Bacon or the Earl of Oxford or the queen herself. For most of us ordinary folk, the authorship wars are irrelevant, "skimble-skamble stuff" (in Hotspur's phrase), and "Shakespeare" means interchangeably the man and his works. ... Shakespeare was an actor, writing for actors; the plays are, above all, scripts.

The plays are scripts. And novels are books. And many great films are now available on DVD. So bleedin' what?!

The assumption that authorship doesn't matter, in my experience, is usually made by those who are in no position to judge. While entire books have been written about how the authorship question does indeed matter (mine included), my first response to the above quote is to say, here. Listen to this. [MP3]

This space will also be announcing a conference in Concord, Mass. on May 30-June 1 devoted to the proposition that the Shakespeare authorship question does indeed matter. More on that shortly. For now, though, as John Hodgman says, that is all.

No comments: