Morning Ed: Shakespeare {2016.04.24.Su}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

18 Responses

  1. Richard Hershberger says:

    The whole shtick about Shakespeare’s plays having been written by someone–anyone!–else is fascinating from a sociological perspective. As a historical proposition, it is totally bonkers: right up there with Area 51 fantasies. Yet it is accepted by people with a genuine, non-loony interest in Shakespeare.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      It can sort of act as a case study for conspiracy theories and other bonkers belief systems. Studying the anti-Stradifordians might yield some interesting insights on how people who should know better can come to believe some very stupid things.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        This is interesting. I mean, I learned in school that Shakespeare likely didn’t write all of his plays. Or, at least, that there were legitimate questions of authorship. That seems to set it apart from Area 51 stuff.Report

        • Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

          @kazzy From what I can tell as a scholar among scholars who used to work in a bookstore, it only sets it apart from Area 51 stuff in terms of its popularity among schoolteachers… and even sometimes professors. But it’s ALWAYS been a seriously minority position, just not presented as such by those espousing it.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Maribou says:


            Good to know. Interesting considering the teacher I heard it most from was (or at least fancied himself) a Shakespeare expert.

            By the way, not sure if you saw my comment over on the ‘Weekend’ post (it isn’t worth clicking over, mind you) but just know that I am eternally grateful for libraries and librarians and what you to hear that. My life — and my boys’ lives — are so enriched having a library with great hours (open until 8 Monday-Thursday!) that is part of a county-wide system with a website and app and everything! I can get movies and books galore for the boys with the click of a button or just wander over and peruse the aisles. Thanks for all you do!Report

            • Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

              I didn’t see it but Jaybird made sure I knew about it. I’m so glad you all are having such a great experience!

              My mom was a school librarian so I was basically raised to see it as a calling, not just a job… figures I would find my way back to it eventually.

              And I can guarantee that most of the librarians and library staff who work at your library are just as thrilled, if not more so!Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Maribou says:


                Heh. Our local library staff has some real characters, but they are always happy to fetch us our books and one gentleman in particular who works on the floor where the children’s section is can get very invested in helping Mayo find the right section for that visit’s Must Have Book Topic.Report

        • Richard Hershberger in reply to Kazzy says:

          We need to be careful about what we are discussing here. If the discussion is about the proposition that “Shakespeare likely didn’t write all of his plays” then this is not necessarily bonkers. The kernel of truth is that the process at that time of writing a play was more collaborative than the lonely writer in his garret of later imagination. So if the argument is that some sections of some of the plays traditionally ascribed to Shakespeare may have been written, to a greater or lesser extent, by someone else, then sure: this is the kind of argument that specialists thrive on, with little hope of any definite resolution. The discussion is probably pointless, but it isn’t bonkers. It also has only incidental connection with the anti-Stratfordian shtick.

          My sense, however, is that anti-Stratfordianism is out of fashion. This isn’t because they have seen the light, but because the hot new area for such historical Slatepitches is Jesus mythicism. This has the benefit that you might actually shock someone, while anti-Stratfordianism lot that potential long ago.

          In a related vein, there is the Ricardian crowd. This is an interesting case, because there is a spectrum. At one end is the totally non-bonkers observation that Richard III wasn’t the cartoon villain we see in the play. It is usually a safe bet to argue that some historical bad guy wasn’t as bad as he is made out to be (or that a historical good guy had his flaws). From this perfectly reasonable point is a long slide downward, making Richard out to be a veritable saint and Henry Tudor the cartoon villain. The Ricardians had a moment in the sun when Josephine Tey, a prominent mystery writer back in the day, wrote a popular novel arguing for the position.Report

          • El Muneco in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

            Of course, Shakespeare definitely did not write some of his plays, because intellectual property standards were less strict in his day, so there are a few that his contribution could be summed up as “prettying up some of the language”. The service that George Lucas has always needed, basically.

            Not that that detracts from his legacy in any way, it was normal and to a great extent expected – and in any case every artist has always done it to a greater or lesser extent. Look at “Throne of Blood”, “The Bad Sleep Well”, and “Ran” for example…Report

          • It is usually a safe bet to argue that some historical bad guy wasn’t as bad as he is made out to be

            Not always, though.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

            Wasn’t there one particular guy who is alleged to have been the real voice of Shakespeare or something?Report

  2. LeeEsq says:

    Shakespeare had some very strong advantages over Cervantes. His famous work is much more voluminous so more people have a chance of finding something they like. Shakespeare’s work is meant to be seen and heard rather than read so it is more accessible in low literacy environments. Besides that brief spell under Cromwell, the British government never had a reason to support a religion that insisted on strict morality like the Spanish government did. Shakespeare’s work is more universal in it’s themes than Cervantes so it can be appreciated across the ages and cultures.Report

  3. j r says:

    I don’t capitalize black or white, because they’re not real things (at least not in this context). I do capitalize African-American, Caucasian, European, Asian, Hispanic, etc. because they are proper nouns. Black and white are colors.Report

    • Alan Scott in reply to j r says:

      Isn’t it possible that in certain circumstances, color words can be proper nouns?

      I assume you believe that on some level. I can’t see you talking about Chief Justice Hugo black or noted author E. B. white.

      Me, I see no reason not to apply the same rule to Black and White as I do to Asian or Latino. I think to do otherwise is to promote words like Caucasian, and I have no particular desire to do that.

      I don’t really get what’s with the whole capitalize Black but not white thing the author is about, though. I see where the impulse of *White is not a specific ethnicity in the same way that Black might be* comes from… but the execution veers uncomfortably close to making whiteness an unacknowledged default.

      Like, White people have a race, men have a gender, straight people have a sexual orientation, etc. It’s not racism or sexism or homophobia to say that–if anything, it can be an important step to conquering those biases.Report

      • j r in reply to Alan Scott says:

        Like, White people have a race..

        Eh. I don’t accept “white” as a race. The concept of whiteness developed well-before we had any real conception of genetics and is explicitly based on a taxonomy of white supremacy. Whiteness was defined as those we can’t enslave or those who get the full enfranchisement of political rights.

        Look, I’m not delusional. I accept that “white” and “black” means something in common parlance, but not enough for me to want to capitalize it.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Alan Scott says:

        What about the group that isn’t regarded as White by many White people but is regarded as White by people of color? You know, Jews?Report