Saturday, April 18, 2009

Flat-Earthers on the Highest Court

Well, not FLat-Earthers really. But, something that may be of more importance to members of this blog. According to the WSJ:
In his 34 years on the Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens has evolved from idiosyncratic dissenter to influential elder, able to assemble majorities on issues such as war powers and property rights. Now, the court's senior justice could be gaining ground on a case that dates back 400 years: the authorship of Shakespeare's plays.

Justice Stevens, who dropped out of graduate study in English to join the Navy in 1941, is an Oxfordian -- that is, he believes the works ascribed to William Shakespeare actually were written by the 17th earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. Several justices across the court's ideological spectrum say he may be right.

This puts much of the court squarely outside mainstream academic opinion, which equates denial of Shakespeare's authorship with the Flat Earth Society.

"Oh my," said Coppelia Kahn, president of the Shakespeare Association of America and professor of English at Brown University, when informed of Justice Stevens's cause. "Nobody gives any credence to these arguments," she says.

Nonetheless, since the 19th century, some have argued that only a nobleman could have produced writings so replete with intimate depictions of courtly life and exotic settings far beyond England. Dabbling in entertainments was considered undignified, the theory goes, so the author laundered his works through Shakespeare, a member of the Globe Theater's acting troupe.

Over the years, various candidates have attracted prominent supporters. Mark Twain is said to have favored Sir Francis Bacon. Malcolm X preferred King James I. De Vere first was advanced in 1918 by an English schoolmaster named J. Thomas Looney. More recently, thanks in part to aggressive lobbying by a contemporary descendant, Charles Vere, Oxford has emerged as a leading alternate author.

Justice Steven's opinion on the matter stems from a moch trial case he was involved with in the 1980s (see the article.) What I want to know is (1) is Justice Stevens an ENglish heretic? and (2) how does one prove his case if you believe Shakespeare did not write the works of Shakespeare?


Supadiscomama said...

I don't think it's heretical to question authorship--there are several early modern writers (mostly women) whose identities are in question. Of course, the argument that "only a nobleman" could have written Shakespeare's plays is bogus. One could gain access to court circles through a number of avenues--nobility was only one.

All of the presented evidence, as far as I know, is equally shaky (no pun intended). And I'm not sure exactly why there's such a conspiracy theory surrounding ol' Willy-boy.

One of the ladies in my diss describes herself as "dark" in her poetry. She was a contemporary of Shakespeare, and there is a handful of scholars that claim that she was Shakespeare's "Dark Lady"--with little other proof other than coincidences. But it is an interesting theory...

paperweight said...

Yeah I think Hurley wrote them on his return trip to the island.