Thursday, November 25, 2010

"Shakespeare" shut down in 1604, ctd.

It has long been a contention of this blogger that one of the stronger pieces of evidence for Edward de Vere's authorship of the "Shakespeare" canon is the fact that he died in 1604.

(The strongest remain the phenomenal connections between his life and the works, the contemporary rumors (cited in "Shakespeare" By Another Name) of his involvement with the Shakespeare enterprise, the manifold ways the annotations in de Vere's Geneva Bible appear as biblical references in the canon, and the astonishing overlap between the settings of Shakespeare's Italian plays and de Vere's documented ports of call during his grand tour of Italy in 1575-'76.)

The reason the "1604" argument is so powerful, I think, is that traditional Shakespeare scholarship stipulates that the plays were written from the period c. 1592-c. 1613. But critical examination of the actual evidence, in fact, provides an independent check that the author of these works stopped authoring in 1604.

Stratfordians still seem to think "1604" is a game-over argument for their case. Their flogging of this horse should only be encouraged.

Case in point: A new book by the UK publisher Parapress, Dating Shakespeare's Plays compiles a play-by-play examination of sources, references and allusions for all of the Bard's works (plus four apocryphal plays often attributed to Shakespeare).

The upshot is that these researchers find the "Shakespeare" canon as a whole has been dated too late -- sometimes by a decade or more. That the author shuffled off this mortal coil in 1604 and not 1616 (when Will of Stratford died) is, at the least, consistent with Dating's findings.

In the interest of fairness, it should be added that the De Vere Society in the UK coordinated the research and put together the book. Of course, anyone objecting to Dating's findings on this ground should then equally demand that authorship-agnostic researchers, not Stratfordians, be the ones who write the papers and books advancing the conventional 1592-1613 chronology.

The notion suggested in the previous sentence is not a joke. But anyone who knows Shakespeare scholarship today also knows it is laughable.

In any event, the book's analysis is in line with recent scholarship on The Tempest (added to the paperback edition of SBAN) that finds 1604 as the latest likely date for the play's composition.

And The Tempest is the strongest case they've got that the author must have lived beyond the year of de Vere's death.

So, now, with "A Critical Review of the Evidence" -- in the words of Dating's subtitle -- we come closer to the day when it can be said definitively: "Shakespeare" stopped writing in  1604. Oxfordians can explain this. What's the Stratforidans' excuse?


heward-wilkinson said...

I think certain of the letters are game-overs in favour of the Oxfordian position also. Especially the one to Robert Cecil on the death of Queen Elizabeth, where the invocation of his entire life in that death must have summoned resonances which led to him letting his guard down (quite aside from the echoes of The Tempest and Antony and Cleopatra). How anyone can read those looping and lilting sentences and not think 'Shakespeare' is beyond me!

"I cannot but find a great grief in myself to remember the mistress which we have lost, under whom both you and myself from our greenest years have been in a manner brought up and, although it hath pleased God after an earthly kingdom to take her up into a more permanent and heavenly state wherein I do not doubt but she is crowned with glory, and to give us a prince wise, learned and enriched with all virtues, yet the long time which we spent in her service we cannot look for so much left of our days as to bestow upon another, neither the long acquaintance and kind familiarities wherewith she did use us we are not ever to expect from another prince, as denied by the infirmity of age and common course of reason. In this common shipwreck, mine is above all the rest who, least regarded though often comforted of all her followers, she hath left to try my fortune among the alterations of time and chance, either without sail whereby to take the advantage of any prosperous gale or with anchor to ride till the storm be overpast. There is nothing therefore left to my comfort but the excellent virtues and deep wisdom wherewith God hath endued our new master and sovereign Lord, who doth not come amongst us as a stranger but as a natural prince, succeeding by right of blood and inheritance, not as a conqueror but as the true shepherd of Christ's flock to cherish and comfort them."

Tom Goff said...

Kitty Kelley, in The American Scholar, has interesting comments to make about the travails of being an "unauthorized biographer." I think that what we Oxfordians are engaged on is the unauthorized biography of Shakespeare, proper dating of the plays and all.

I think you, Mark, may have used exactly that phrase, "unauthorized biographer," somewhere in describing your own book. Anyway, Kelley's account is interesting; it's posted at Arts & Letters Daily.

Tom Goff