Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Annals of Stratfordian Snark

For those who enjoy ringside view on a good row from time to time, yesterday Oliver Kamm, a financial columnist for the London Times, got into a rather snarky flame-war with some Oxfordians on his blog.

Starting off simply enough with the assertion that the Shakespeare authorship issue is "benign, if batty," Kamm gets drawn into the maelstrom and really, in so many words, loses his shit.

Oxfordian commenters call Kamm out on his factually dubious claims, and he just keeps coming back.

He writes:

"I do 'assume that Oxfordians are unscholarly cranks'. That's part of their job description. Their ... arguments bear as much relation to literary scholarship as do creationism to science and Holocaust denial to history. It's a sociological and pathological phenomenon rather than a literary one."

Credit to the Oxfordians who posted on his blog, who generally maintained a respectful and civil tone.

And credit to the unintentionally comical Mr. Kamm, who after posting nine increasingly shrill comments to his own original post, clearly enjoys having plenty more to say when he has nothing more to say.

Here's hoping we might see the defender of the Stratford faith make it toward 15 or 20 attempts at the last word. Here hear, Mr. Kamm. We suspect there's yet more nasty ad hominems and prickly appeals to authority to come.

Just, please, commenters all: Keep it polite. Let the good man dig his own hole.

POSTSCRIPT: All the fooferaw has now occasioned a bona fide Oxfordian-themed post from the Times's conspiracy lover.

POST-POSTSCRIPT (and comment bump): Author Michael Prescott ponders the larger meaning of Mr. Kamm's vituperations. Tally-ho!


jhm said...

[OT]: Is there any news about editions in the Oxfordian Shakespeare Series other than MacBeth?


Michael Prescott said...

In the final comment in the thread, Kamm makes an argument about the dating of "Love's Labour's Lost" that I hadn't heard before:

"We can infer, for example, that Love's Labour's Lost was written not in 1580 but after 1591, when John Banks displayed his counting horse, Morocco. Consider in the first act:

" 'Now here is three studied ere you'll thrice wink; and how easy it is to put years to the word 'three', and study three years in two words, the dancing horse will tell you.'

"This would have made no sense to Shakespeare's audience before Banks came on the scene."

Though I don't think this single example outweighs the various topical references that seem to date the play earlier than 1591, I still find it interesting. Were there other counting horses before Morocco? Or could this be viewed as a later interpolation?

Michael Prescott said...

Having now referred to your book, I see that you argue that LLL was revised circa 1593. This would address the issue of Morocco, the wonder horse.

Incidentally, your post and Kamm's dialectics inspired me to put up my own blog post, "Much Ado About Ranting."

Robert159 said...

As you say, assuming the horse referenced was Morocco, the passage or just the phrase may be a later addition. The Bard seems fond of topical references.

For what it's worth, counting-horse performances have a long history. Although it's possible someone else's preceded Banks, his appears more likely to have been in the minds of contemporary London audiences.

The horses don't count of course, but rather are trained to receive clues when to start and stop printing their hooves.

Doc Stritmatter said...

Oliver Kamm "clearly enjoys having plenty more to say when he has nothing more to say."

You can say that again, Mark!