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Thread: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

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    Avalon Member kirolak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    Michael Topper said Shakespeare was indeed Francis Bacon. Who knows; but I highly recommend Bill Bryson's book on Shakespeare, it is well researched & quite amusing.

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    There is a similar problem for authorship for the works of Homer. Homer was not one blind bard but a whole bardic tradition of oral poetry with a whole set of stock phrases you would use to keep you going and maintain a regular meter. Both the Iliad and the Odyssey contain twenty-four books, which would be like individual sessions. Every performance would be different, until someone put them down on paper. It’s a bit like recording a jazz band, or more likely a compilation of several jazz bands playing standards such as the Wrath of Achilles or Odysseus and the Cyclops. We have the recording, but we don’t have the booklet naming the composer/performers.

    Anonymity is Shakespeare’s day is rather different. I think the current equivalent would be the use of screennames in the alternative media. There was no mainstream theatre, so the theatre could be decried en bloc for much the same reasons as ‘conspiracy sites’ today. No doubt there were several playwrights calling themselves Anonymous. One was likely a closet Catholic defending the divine feminine and avoiding arrest, hanging, drawing and quartering. See this post. Another (ditto) had dealings with what Joseph Farrell calls the ‘Financial Vipers of Venice’ and found a way to settle his differences in a major way with the usurer Shylock: through the courts on a technicality in The Merchant of Venice: Yet another Shakespeare (or possibly the same one) revisits Roman history to describe in Elizabethan language a putsch by right-wing patricians against a populist leader, for which the historian Michael Parenti gives a presentday version in his book The Assassination of Julius Casear:

    Another (possibly the same guy) had certainly visited Denmark and found rampant corruption in high places. See this post:
    Quote Posted by araucaria (here)
    Did you hear this little conspiracy story about a member of an influential family who became a whistleblower after a paranormal experience revealed corruption in high places: a sex scandal and murder?

    He survived an attempt on his own life during extraordinary rendition after intercepting a secret message to a foreign power.

    He gathered circumstantial evidence of the original murder, suggesting that it was in fact a copycat crime, using the most fanciful methods that would not stand up in a court of law.

    He was finally killed by friendly fire which turned out to be a false flag incident, not without taking revenge on his enemies.

    You’ve never heard about this? Oh but I think you have! This is Shakespeare’s Hamlet, revered by all, including the very people who love to tell you that conspiracy theorists are nutters.


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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    Quote Posted by kirolak (here)
    Michael Topper said Shakespeare was indeed Francis Bacon. Who knows; but I highly recommend Bill Bryson's book on Shakespeare, it is well researched & quite amusing.
    I like Bill Bryson, good writer.

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    .
    Hi, Folks — this is all actually pretty interesting (I feel!), for several reasons, and informs some more modern problems maybe quite well. For the sake of the interesting debate, I also add a few thoughts of my own.

    • I'm not a Shakespeare scholar — at all. I'm an intelligent layman in this area. But in the last week or so, I’ve been rather like Richard Dolan, who back in the mid-90s, as an academic historian, got interested in UFOs and gave himself a short time of intense reading to get to the bottom of it completely. (20 years later, he says he’s still not anywhere close to getting to understanding it all. )
    • The Shakespeare thing is kind of similar. I started reading and watching everything I could, fairly intensely (I found it fascinating), educated myself rapidly, reached a few interim conclusions, but as far as deciding who really wrote Shakespeare’s works, I'm really not much closer to knowing.
    • To the scholarly debate that's been raging: it’s called the Shakespeare Authorship Question. Good name. That’s like the JFK Assassination Question, or the 9/11 Demolition Question, or the Apollo Moon Landings Question.
    • The overall situation is about mainstream defenders of a belief system, who often have a personal interest that’s either status-oriented, or financially driven, flatly dismissing and refusing even to consider a well-argued, evidence-rich alternative position. It’s extraordinary. We see this everywhere, of course. NOT just about Shakespeare.
    • Here’s what’s interesting. Those who are defending the mainstream position tend to say things like: “You’re just some kind of conspiracy theorist. I suppose you think there was a second JFK shooter, too.” (They really do say that.)
    • But then — the ‘anti-Stratfordians’ (those who doubt the mainstream view) usually giggle and scoff at comments like that. They, too, have their own position about ‘other conspiracy theories’, that’s unthinking (and actually, intellectually dishonest). It’s rather like a cold fusion advocate making a joke about flying saucers or Bigfoot. These views are endemic and are everywhere, even among well-informed, specialist doubters in a specific area. They can’t seem to see (or don’t want to see) the analogies and similarities in other fields.
    • To the Shakespeare problem itself, I feel (provisionally!) pretty sure that the answer lies in that “William Shakespeare” was a brand name. (Just like Homer was, yes.) NOT AN ALIAS. There may have been a number of contributors — including Oxford, Marlowe, Bacon, Amelia Bassano (a fascinating, strong case), and maybe others, too. The very fact that there are so many arguments for each of these being the Bard, points to the notion that maybe they all were.
    • The guy from Stratford, who was basically an illiterate but fairly smart businessman and trader, and worked as a sometime bit actor, was called William Shaksper. (Note the spelling.) The ‘Shakespeare’ brand name (which at first was hyphenated: ‘Shake-speare’) was a pun, referring to the shaking of a spear, a common idiom in those times. The involvement of Shaksper in the theater in London at the same time was a pure coincidence, and he became a useful, harmless, distracting, patsy, and everyone around at the time knew that. A generation later, after the deaths of everyone involved, the world bought the actually pretty transparent fake story, and academics started to bolster and defend it.

    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 24th January 2017 at 14:25.

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    Imagine that!

    The words and articles published in the Onion becoming the "Word of God"... when discovered by geek archeologists of the 3rd millennium...
    "La réalité est un rêve que l'on fait atterrir" San Antonio AKA F. Dard

    Troll-hood motto: Never, ever, however, whatsoever, to anyone, a point concede.

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    All right, so I'm going to try to make this as painless as possible -

    For you - so that every reader may follow and understand

    For me- as I'm undertaking the task of explaining it

    With all due respect, I am diametrically opposed to the belief that Shakespeare might have been any of the writers mentioned above. The reason i feel this is because Shakespeare's style was/is unparalleled! And while one can argue that every writer has his/her own style, there are certain styles which are simply unique. Shakespeare is unique!

    Shakespeare wrote in beats. Every sentence of every single thing he wrote was written in beats - usually 10 beats! As long as the sentences were part of the same thought, every sentence had 10 beats. When the thought changed, the sentence then had more or less than 10 beats. It could be a sentence with as little as two beats to start another thought or to end the current thought, or one as long as 15 beats, but only to start a different thought or to end the current one!

    I will try to illustrate this by using some lines from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" - the first argument between Oberon and Titania who are the king and queen of fairies.

    Oberon who is Titania's consort has left fairyland to court another female. He now returns and he and Titania get into a long argument. I will spare you the long argument but just present a few sentences.

    TITANIA - What, jealous Oberon! Fairies, skip hence:
    What-jea-lous-o-be-ron-fai-ries-skip-hence (10 beats)

    I have forsworn his bed and company
    I-have-for-sworn-his-bed-and-com-pa-ny (10 beats)

    OBERON - Tarry, rash wanton; am not I thy lord?
    Tar-ry-rash-wan-ton-am-not-I-thy-lord (10 beats)

    TITANIA - Then i must be thy lady: but I know
    Then-I-must-be-thy-la-dy-but-I-know (10 beats)

    When thou hast stolen away from fairy land
    When-thou-hast-sto-len-a-way-from-fai-ry-land (11 beats)

    The last sentence has 11 beats because it is a new thought in which Titania begins to explain that he left her for another and then she goes on with 10 beat sentences until the next thought.

    This is how Shakespeare wrote EVERYTHING!!! Everything that pertains to the same thought is written in 10 beat sentences. When the thought changes, the sentence has more or less than 10 beats

    Do you know anyone else who has been capable of writing like this? I don't!

    To accomplish this rare feat, one would have to be a genius with an IQ on the higher end of the scale. Just think of the massive works with words and words and words, all written in beats of 10! And every time the thought changes, then the beats are no longer 10!

    It is these beats that give the actor the clue as to when to make that subtle, seamless transition. The same applies to the sonnets, as they also were written for performance since in those days most people were illiterate and the sonnets were performed before audiences, which they rarely are any more.

    The man who wrote those magnificent works had to have been a highly educated, very knowledgeable person. He was most likely a nobleman. An aristocrat. A man of very high station. In those days, a man of high station was not allowed to write literature, and especially plays, as the arts in general were considered unworthy of the attention of a nobleman and very much frowned upon. As such, what makes most sense to me is that this highly talented man never received recognition for his work because no one knew who he was!

    And that's my 2 cents on Shakespeare's identity.

    P. S. - this is my 1000th post - dedicated to Shakespeare, Titania, Oberon, the faeries and A Midsummer's Night's Dream. I love this play! And I love Shakespeare!

    P. P. S. - In my opinion, Shakespeare was the first true feminist. But that's another story...
    Last edited by Daughter of Time; 25th January 2017 at 04:26. Reason: typo

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    Quote Posted by Daughter of Time (here)
    All right, so I'm going to try to make this as painless as possible -

    For you - so that every reader may follow and understand

    For me- as I'm undertaking the task of explaining it

    With all due respect, I am diametrically opposed to the belief that Shakespeare might have been any of the writers mentioned above. The reason i feel this is because Shakespeare's style was/is unparalleled! And while one can argue that every writer has his/her own style, there are certain styles which are simply unique. Shakespeare is unique!

    Shakespeare wrote in beats. Every sentence of every single thing he wrote was written in beats - usually 10 beats! As long as the sentences were part of the same thought, every sentence had 10 beats. When the thought changed, the sentence then had more or less than 10 beats. It could be a sentence with as little as two beats to start another thought or to end the current thought, or one as long as 15 beats, but only to start a different thought or to end the current one!

    I will try to illustrate this by using some lines from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" - the first argument between Oberon and Titania who are the king and queen of fairies.

    Oberon who is Titania's consort has left fairyland to court another female. He now returns and he and Titania get into a long argument. I will spare you the long argument but just present a few sentences.

    TITANIA - What, jealous Oberon! Fairies, skip hence:
    What-jea-lous-o-be-ron-fai-ries-skip-hence (10 beats)

    I have forsworn his bed and company
    I-have-for-sworn-his-bed-and-com-pa-ny (10 beats)

    OBERON - Tarry, rash wanton; am not I thy lord?
    Tar-ry-rash-wan-ton-am-not-I-thy-lord (10 beats)

    TITANIA - Then i must be thy lady: but I know
    Then-I-must-be-thy-la-dy-but-I-know (10 beats)

    When thou hast stolen away from fairy land
    When-thou-hast-sto-len-a-way-from-fai-ry-land (11 beats)

    The last sentence has 11 beats because it is a new thought in which Titania begins to explain that he left her for another and then she goes on with 10 beat sentences until the next thought.

    This is how Shakespeare wrote EVERYTHING!!! Everything that pertains to the same thought is written in 10 beat sentences. When the thought changes, the sentence has more or less than 10 beats

    Do you know anyone else who has been capable of writing like this? I don't!

    To accomplish this rare feat, one would have to be a genius with an IQ on the higher end of the scale. Just think of the massive works with words and words and words, all written in beats of 10! And every time the thought changes, then the beats are no longer 10!

    It is these beats that give the actor the clue as to when to make that subtle, seamless transition. The same applies to the sonnets, as they also were written for performance since in those days most people were illiterate and the sonnets were performed before audiences, which they rarely are any more.

    The man who wrote those magnificent works had to have been a highly educated, very knowledgeable person. He was most likely a nobleman. An aristocrat. A man of very high station. In those days, a man of high station was not allowed to write literature, and especially plays, as the arts in general were considered unworthy of the attention of a nobleman and very much frowned upon. As such, what makes most sense to me is that this highly talented man never received recognition for his work because no one knew who he was!

    And that's my 2 cents on Shakespeare's identity.

    P. S. - this is my 1000th post - dedicated to Shakespeare, Titania, Oberon, the faeries and A Midsummer's Night's Dream. I love this play! And I love Shakespeare!

    P. P. S. - In my opinion, Shakespeare was the first true feminist. But that's another story...
    Thank you for an interesting 1000th post. If Shakespeare were writing in French, I would agree that the syllable is the unit of measure. But in English, it is the foot: a group of long (stressed) and/or short (unstressed) syllables. Hence a character in Joyce comments on his name: ‘Malachi Mulligan: two dactyls’. A ten-syllable line is called a pentameter, often of five iambs (one short and one long syllable) – iambic pentameter. A trochee is another two-syllable foot with the long before the short syllable (e.g. apple); a spondee has two long syllables, like the word itself. What you describe as an eleven-beat line would be when you throw in an extra syllable, i.e. a three-syllable foot such as a dactyl or an anapaest, which changes the number of syllables but not the number of feet. See the section of the above Wiki article titled ‘Rhythmic variation’. The commonest way of doing this is with a ‘feminine’ ending, a final unstressed syllable, but there are various other ways of drawing attention to a particular thing you are saying. The basic meter then is like the basic sound wave you produce by vibrating your vocal cords, a sound that you can modify into the various vowel sounds by changing the position of your tongue. This suggests to me that it is actually easier for poets to use it as their starting point, and the interesting stuff comes in the ways in which they play around in order to produce a tune of their own. I like the way you point out the artistic achievement of the latter, but I think you are overestimating the technical difficulty of the former.

    I mentioned French poetry. The twelve-syllable alexandrine alternating feminine and masculine endings in single lines or couplets, and using a variety of rhyming schemes, was a staple of French poetry until Victor Hugo came along and wrote just about everything that could be written using that medium. It was the medium in which a 19th century French poet lived without seeing it any more than the air he breathed. So they were all on the same page as it were, without needing to form a school or anything like that. The same sort of thing very likely happened in Elizabethan England. So when you say, ‘Do you know anyone else who has been capable of writing like this?’ you are begging the question as to how many people wrote Shakespeare’s works. The answer would simply be all the members of this informal group.

    These things do happen. The French New Novel was such an informal group of highly original writers working independently within a given zeitgeist. I have a transcript of a conversation in which three of them talk about how they chose the title for one of their novels. X wanted to use a particular title but it was already taken by Y, and Z wanting to use one and then the other of these titles already taken and so had to find one of his own. Three very different books, but actually any of the titles would have been suitable for any of the books. This is one of the ways in which the ‘nouveau roman’ became a movement in the media with no theoretical input binding these writers together at that stage.

    Quote P. P. S. - In my opinion, Shakespeare was the first true feminist. But that's another story
    I don’t know about the first, I hope not, but yes, he was a true feminist. See this post.


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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    I don't know if anyone watched the five part documentary by Michael Wood in #14
    He is a scholar who can read and speak old English and has done doc's on Beowulf ,
    Alfred the Great and other great historical/mythical figures....

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Wood_(historian)

    He points out that Shakespeare's plays are scattered with local Warwickshire
    references and dialect words, and follows a logical course and history of a real
    person called William Shakespeare. Whether he wrote all the plays , or collaborated
    a man from Warwickshires mark is imprinted on some of the works. It is strange
    that the 37 known plays were brought together after his death by two close friends
    and bound together in a volume, and many other anomalies .But the political and
    religious situation plays a massive part in the story. Also stealing each others ideas
    was not uncommon. I don't know who the real Shakespear is but his legend will live
    on for centuries still to come.....
    Last edited by Cidersomerset; 25th January 2017 at 12:16.

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    Quote Posted by Daughter of Time (here)
    • To accomplish this rare feat, one would have to be a genius with an IQ on the higher end of the scale.
    • The man who wrote those magnificent works had to have been a highly educated, very knowledgeable person. He was most likely a nobleman. An aristocrat. A man of very high station.
    100% agreed on both counts. Whoever wrote the works had a most exceptional, extraordinary mind.

    Quote Posted by Daughter of Time (here)

    With all due respect, I am diametrically opposed to the belief that Shakespeare might have been any of the writers mentioned above.
    Are you saying that even Oxford, Marlowe, Bacon, Bassano (or anyone else nominated, and many have been) couldn't have been the author? In your earlier post #5, you seemed to think it might have been the Earl of Oxford, so I got confused.

    The 10-beat style you're describing is iambic pentameter, but many great writers of that period did use that prolifically, certainly Oxford and Marlowe.

    Here's a well-known example from Marlowe...
    Was this the face that launched a thousand ships
    And burnt the top less towers of Ilium?

    ... can you say more?

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    I did not know about the suggestion regarding the Sicilian Michelangelo Florio Crollalanza posted by Hervé here.
    Following the link added to that post by Bill led me to a fairly comprehensive case for the one-man Shakespeare. This of course is not incompatible with the idea that Crollalanza was that person; on the contrary, it makes more sense. Obviously, it would be politically unfortunate if it were to get out that England’s greatest writer was Italian, and certainly having the man born and dying on St George’s day (the patron of England, who himself probably never existed!) is a bit of a red flag. I personally have no horse in this race because authorship is a very secondary issue. See here.

    Contemporary literary theory analyzes this situation in terms of the “death of the author” (Roland Barthes)
    Quote whereby a piece of writing is to be interpreted independently of any author figure. But if the author is no longer in charge, then readers are free to take their exegesis wherever they will. This is the highly transposable way literary theory tells the reader to get off his knees and play an active role in the read/write process. http://projectavalon.net/forum4/show...l=1#post956730
    It is important for the forum that we do not take sides in what amounts to another argument. Authorship is about where we are coming from: the important thing is where we are heading. See this post:
    Quote Posted by araucaria (here)
    One important notion theorized by postwar writers was to undermine the authority of the author figure (here we refer to the Ego). Roland Barthes even wrote an influential essay called ‘The Death of the Author’. There were practical experiments going on in creative writing workshops (this was long before the Internet) that came up against the problem of clashing Egos.

    This forum, and especially the Village, is working towards finding a solution to collective creative writing that avoids the clash of Egos, i.e. by looking after each other first, rather than imposing our own views. We all contribute our differently coloured tiles to the evolving mosaic, hence the magic fairytale element. In other words, the medium is the message, and the message is love.


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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    Quote Posted by araucaria (here)
    It is important for the forum that we do not take sides in what amounts to another argument.
    Of course. This is just a very fascinating (and rather academic!) discussion between friends.

    In the field of the 'Shakespeare Authorship Question', there's sometimes some animosity between the 'Stratfordians' and the 'anti-Stratfordians' (i.e. those who do and don't believe this was the Stratford man who somehow did it all himself) — although the Stratfordians do tend to be scornful and dismissive of their critics, inappropriately and sometimes rather nastily so.

    Among the anti-Stratfordians, there are the Oxfordians, the Baconians, the Marlovians — and as best as I can see, most of them are pretty good friends, united by a kind of common greater cause.

    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 25th January 2017 at 15:48.

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    There are lots of vids on the subject on the web going over much the same
    arguments one I found is a debate held at Ye Old Cock Tavern, Fleet, Street
    London, organised by the Central London Debating Society, held on 30 April
    2014. Chair: Alain English. Speakers: Prof William Leahy, Dr Rosalind Barber,
    Alexander Waugh, Professor Emeritus Alan Nelson, Dr Duncan Salkeld.


    Quite a lively debate and mirrors the pro and Anti Stratfordians v Oxfordian
    debate plus possible others......




    ==================================================

    A fun note Shakepeare with or without an 'e' well we have had a similar
    'e' problem here Bridgwater with or without the 'e' . Bridgwater was a
    inland seaport until the 1970's and many sailor from the town helped
    explore and settle the new world and there are several Bridgewaters
    around the world and it was also spelt that way in old English documents.
    This applies to many other spelling anomalies and it just 'tickled' me...LOL





    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/...-without-the-e
    Last edited by Cidersomerset; 25th January 2017 at 17:48.

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    I'm trying to find the book I have (had?) that claims that Francis Bacon wrote under pseudonym Will-I-AM Shake-Speare, because he was frustrated at not being acknowledged as the son (illegitimate) of Queen Elizabeth I and Lord Leicester (Robert Dudley) born 4 months after a secret wedding ceremony. The Queen, wishing to retain her "Virgin Queen" status and afraid that if she acknowledged her marriage she must give power to the ambitious Leicester and/or feared that the people would prefer her male heir - refused to allow Francis, on pain of death, to assume his true identity.

    Allegedly Francis was raised by foster parents Sir Nicholas and Lady Anne Bacon.

    Through Bacon's frustrations, he wrote as Shakespeare, but left ciphers in his works telling his true identity.

    There is much debate about his ciphers. Here's one link that leads to others. http://shakespeareauthorship.com/bacpenl.html
    Blessed are the cracked, for they are the ones who let in the light!

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
    Of course. This is just a very fascinating (and rather academic!) discussion between friends.
    Thanks Bill. I did not mean to suggest anything else. Discussions between friends are good because they help us to hold less dogmatic opinions about things. I find it helps to be in two minds about many if not most things, which in a sense undermines or qualifies the ‘truthseeker’ enterprise itself. This is possibly because we hold on tightest to what is most fragile or we are least sure about. Maybe the past is as malleable as the future (the Mandela effect in spades), and we are trying to decide what to do with both. If we want a future that is truly open and full of potential, maybe we need to see the past in a similar light.

    I have a 1970 book by the author Anthony Burgess called Shakespeare, which I can’t reread because I am allergic to a fungus in the paper. But he says Shakespeare did die on April 23rd, and supplies photographic evidence that he was baptized on April 26th, so maybe I am wrong on the matter of his dates (friendly discussion with self). I did note one example however of Burgess matching a line of text with the supposed biography. John Shakespeare, he says, was a glove-maker in Stratford, and likely butchered the calves himself to get the calfskins. This he links to something Hamlet says in response to Polonius who recalls (another play within the play), ‘I did enact Julius Caesar; I was killed in the Capitol; Brutus killed me;’ to which the Prince replies, ‘It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there’. The ‘brute’ and the ‘capital’ are obviously puns, but where did the ‘calf’ come from? According to Burgess, it came from home. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t; the broader message though is that we all bring extraneous material to what we say and write.

    I haven’t read Bill Bryson’s book, but in Mother Tongue he writes, ‘according to apparently careful calculations, Shakespeare used 17,677 words in his writings, of which at least one tenth had never been used before’ (p.69). My point is to do with the discrepancy with the figure in the opening post: 26,000 (Mark Twain’s figure?). The smaller figure makes a single author that much more likely. A lot of the new words have Latin or Greek roots and are placed in apposition with an old English synonym, which is compatible with a foreigner speaking his own language and translating as he goes along. The result is a master wordsmith, and maybe we are talking about just one guy with a special gift. Just how above average he actually was also needs to be relativized; we live in a vastly more literate age, but here are some possibly surprising stats showing that dumbing us all down is not working all that well.

    The important issue here also affects things like assessing alternative media material. How far can we take multiple indications such as the above reference to a calf to attribute a whole body of work to a single source? This is a question of particular interest to people like art historians, who also have artists’ pupils as well as fakers to contend with. The issue is about consistency: internal consistency is a criterion for identification, but we know that internal inconsistencies are also possible. Borges, who translated Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’ into Spanish, noted how in two different places he says he was born in two different places. This is the point I was making about the poet’s meter: it gets interesting precisely when something unexpected happens. There is no suggestion that ‘Leaves of Grass’ had multiple authors or that Whitman wasn’t sure of his own birthplace. Something else is going on, but what? Evil, deceitful intent? I don’t think so. Fiction is fun, and errors, deliberate or otherwise, are enlightening.


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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    Very interesting discussion indeed - not argumentative - just a discussion! I appreciate it.

    So, pardon me for being unclear. I apologize. I should have posted my experience of Shakespeare, which is subjective!

    I have a theatrical background. In my first studies of Shakespeare, back in my early 20s, we had a teacher who had done the bard all his life. He taught us that no one, ever, had managed to write exceptionally beautiful, poetic historical plays in iambic pentameter, and while others tried, no one succeeded the way he did! No one even came close! We did not study Marlowe, or Bacon, or anyone else. This was the theater (in Canada we spell it theatre) so we studied Shakespeare as it is still very popular in Canada and everything we were told was learned religiously and no one questioned it.

    Years later, in a production of a Shakespeare play, we had coach who had worked for The Royal Shakespeare Company in London, England, and he said the same thing. This was re-reinforcement that Shakespeare was unique in his style, ability, knowledge, intelligence, etc.,

    Why did I choose to say "beats" instead of "iambic pentameter"? Well, when a company who is presenting a Shakespeare play goes into rehearsals, the director never says "let's study the iambic pentameter of this play". S/he says "let's break down this play into beats". At least, this has been my experience with Shakespeare plays, and I've been in a few. Is this purely a Canadian thing? Probably not! But I don't know. Also, beats is something which for the purpose of this thread is easier to understand for the average lay person of any educational background. To a person with limited education "iambic pentameter" may sound somewhat alien. And as stated in my unclear post, I wanted every reader to understand the "beats".

    About my post #5 - again, I was not fully clear. I did not believe that it was necessarily "The Earl of Oxford" who wrote the Shakespeare works, but someone of his station. Someone who was high born who had intelligence, knowledge, talent, etc., and a passion for writing which he could not divulge to the members of his caste because it would not have been accepted. As wrong as I may be, it doesn't feel right to me that the works might have been written by different writers. I remain convinced that the works were written by one person.

    Ultimately, will we ever know the true identity of this genius writer? Maybe! Since we have entered the era of disclosure it is possible that things currently unknown may come to light.

    P. S. - Cider: thank you for yet another video which i will watch later. I think authorship does matter. I feel it matters to give credit where credit is due even if the author has been long gone. I, for one, would really like to know who this genius was, his background, his education, his life experience, etc., etc., etc.,
    Last edited by Daughter of Time; 25th January 2017 at 18:11.

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    Quote Posted by araucaria (here)
    I haven’t read Bill Bryson’s book, but in Mother Tongue he writes, ‘according to apparently careful calculations, Shakespeare used 17,677 words in his writings, of which at least one tenth had never been used before’ (p.69). My point is to do with the discrepancy with the figure in the opening post: 26,000 (Mark Twain’s figure?).
    26,000 is quite widely quoted by a lot of people, but I don't know the source reference behind all that. Happy to accept Bill Bryson's figure!

    17,677 is still an enormous number. That's half as many again as the number of different words in the King James Bible — which was edited by Francis Bacon, of course. That's 12,143, reference here.

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
    Quote Posted by araucaria (here)
    I haven’t read Bill Bryson’s book, but in Mother Tongue he writes, ‘according to apparently careful calculations, Shakespeare used 17,677 words in his writings, of which at least one tenth had never been used before’ (p.69). My point is to do with the discrepancy with the figure in the opening post: 26,000 (Mark Twain’s figure?).
    26,000 is quite widely quoted by a lot of people, but I don't know the source reference behind all that. Happy to accept Bill Bryson's figure!

    17,677 is still an enormous number. That's half as many again as the number of different words in the King James Bible — which was edited by Francis Bacon, of course. That's 12,143, reference here.
    Well, there are three factors here.
    1) The modern figures I referenced involve people motivated to do a test, all 2 million of them.
    [quote ]Most adult native test-takers range from 20,000–35,000 words
    Average native test-takers of age 8 already know 10,000 words
    Average native test-takers of age 4 already know 5,000 words[/quote ]
    2) The foreign element strikes me as crucial. Master a foreign language to say all the things you say in your mother tongue: in theory you will have doubled your vocabulary without taking on board any new concepts; but of course in practice you will have broadened your horizons as well. An Italian would answer that description, but so might an English Shakespeare – except that it is a very unEnglish thing to do.

    3) You would need to be a polymath, interested in a broad range of subjects.

    Taking James Joyce as ticking all three boxes and hence a possible equivalent in the modern era, I came up with this article titled ‘Shakespeare’s Vocabulary Considered Unexceptional’ which concludes, ‘The vocabulary king among writers is Joyce, whose vocabulary towers over Shakespeare’s (Finnegans Wake was not included) even with a significantly smaller corpus. https://zwischenzugs.wordpress.com/2...al_vocabulary/

    I also came up with a mathematical study, ‘Estimating Vocabulary Size’ by Alvar Ellegard (ISSN: 0043-7956 (Print) 2373-5112 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rwrd20 ), which whittles down ‘Hanley's Word Index to James Joyce's Ulysses, which yielded 29,899 word-form units in a text mass of 260,430 running words’ to ‘18,400 lexical units’. His Shakespeare wordcount is based on the linguist Otto Jespersen’s figure of 15,000 and he gives 6,568 for the Bible. An elaborate method is described for calculating a theoretical value for lexical units in a text mass of 1 million words. Corrected for length, Shakespeare clocks in at 72% of this figure, very high for his day and roughly double the result for the Bible, but TS Eliot reaches 85%, while James Joyce’s Ulysses ‘places him about 32% above the theoretical V value for a theoretical sample text of that size.’ Meanwhile, owing to its varied content, an ordinary newspaper is as high as 65% of the theoretical value. Despite problems with the calculations for Joyce,
    Quote The fact that James Joyce's Ulysses actually exceeds the theoretical value is a corollary of Joyce's stylistic technique, which, by means of associative linkings, attempted to bring the whole complexity of one man's experience into the space of a book treating of a single day's happenings. The Ulysses vocabulary warns us that the theoretical values are not theoretical maxima.
    The point is that Joyce was a single human being who composed books that – purely on this statistical criterion – dwarf Shakespeare’s. This is with Finnegans Wake being discounted because it contains borrowings from many different languages and thousands of puns and porte-manteau words, enough to make parts of Ulysses read like Enid Blyton. So there is nothing superhuman about ascribing the complete works of Shakespeare to one man. But he would need to be something very special.

    On the subject of Joyce, it is incorrect to state as in the OP that he discounts the idea of Shakespeare the man from Stratford. In he presents a discussion between an almost lapsed young Catholic and a sceptical Jew who draws a parallel between the Bible and Shakespeare:
    Quote —You as a good catholic, he observed, talking of body and soul, believe in the soul. Or do you mean the intelligence, the brainpower as such, as distinct from any outside object, the table, let us say, that cup. I believe in that myself because it has been explained by competent men as the convolutions of the grey matter. Otherwise we would never have such inventions as X rays, for instance. Do you?
    Thus cornered, Stephen had to make a superhuman effort of memory to try and concentrate and remember before he could say:
    —They tell me on the best authority it is a simple substance and therefore incorruptible. It would be immortal, I understand, but for the possibility of its annihilation by its First Cause Who, from all I can hear, is quite capable of adding that to the number of His other practical jokes, corruptio per se and corruptio per accidens both being excluded by court etiquette.
    Mr Bloom thoroughly acquiesced in the general gist of this though the mystical finesse involved was a bit out of his sublunary depth still he felt bound to enter a demurrer on the head of simple, promptly rejoining:
    —Simple? I shouldn't think that is the proper word. Of course, I grant you, to concede a point, you do knock across a simple soul once in a blue moon. But what I am anxious to arrive at is it is one thing for instance to invent those rays Röntgen did or the telescope like Edison, though I believe it was before his time Galileo was the man, I mean, and the same applies to the laws, for example, of a farreaching natural phenomenon such as electricity but it's a horse of quite another colour to say you believe in the existence of a supernatural God.
    —O that, Stephen expostulated, has been proved conclusively by several of the bestknown passages in Holy Writ, apart from circumstantial evidence.
    On this knotty point however the views of the pair, poles apart as they were both in schooling and everything else with the marked difference in their respective ages, clashed.
    —Has been? the more experienced of the two objected, sticking to his original point with a smile of unbelief. I'm not so sure about that. That's a matter for everyman's opinion and, without dragging in the sectarian side of the business, I beg to differ with you in toto there. My belief is, to tell you the candid truth, that those bits were genuine forgeries all of them put in by monks most probably or it's the big question of our national poet over again, who precisely wrote them like Hamlet and Bacon, as, you who know your Shakespeare infinitely better than I, of course I needn't tell you.
    Stephen Dedalus’s theory, which he believes less than Joyce himself did (according to friends), is that the artist and his life are indistinguishable. Anthony Burgess in my previous post was only a tiny foretaste. Presented scoffingly: ‘It's quite simple. He proves by algebra that Hamlet's grandson is Shakespeare's grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father.’ Presented more seriously:
    Quote —All these questions are purely academic, Russell oracled out of his shadow. I mean, whether Hamlet is Shakespeare or James I or Essex. Clergymen's discussions of the historicity of Jesus. Art has to reveal to us ideas, formless spiritual essences. The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring. The painting of Gustave Moreau is the painting of ideas. The deepest poetry of Shelley, the words of Hamlet bring our minds into contact with the eternal wisdom, Plato's world of ideas. All the rest is the speculation of schoolboys for schoolboys.
    (...)
    —The play begins. A player comes on under the shadow, made up in the castoff mail of a court buck, a wellset man with a bass voice. It is the ghost, the king, a king and no king, and the player is Shakespeare who has studied Hamlet all the years of his life which were not vanity in order to play the part of the spectre. He speaks the words to Burbage, the young player who stands before him beyond the rack of cerecloth, calling him by a name:
    Hamlet, I am thy father's spirit,
    bidding him list. To a son he speaks, the son of his soul, the prince, young Hamlet and to the son of his body, Hamnet Shakespeare, who has died in Stratford that his namesake may live for ever.
    Is it possible that that player Shakespeare, a ghost by absence, and in the vesture of buried Denmark, a ghost by death, speaking his own words to his own son's name (had Hamnet Shakespeare lived he would have been prince Hamlet's twin), is it possible, I want to know, or probable that he did not draw or foresee the logical conclusion of those premises: you are the dispossessed son: I am the murdered father: your mother is the guilty queen, Ann Shakespeare, born Hathaway?
    —But this prying into the family life of a great man, Russell began impatiently.
    Art thou there, truepenny?
    —Interesting only to the parish clerk. I mean, we have the plays. I mean when we read the poetry of King Lear what is it to us how the poet lived? As for living our servants can do that for us, Villiers de l'Isle has said. Peeping and prying into greenroom gossip of the day, the poet's drinking, the poet's debts. We have King Lear: and it is immortal. (...)
    —Do you mean to fly in the face of the tradition of three centuries? John Eglinton's carping voice asked. Her ghost at least has been laid for ever. She died, for literature at least, before she was born.

    —She died, Stephen retorted, sixtyseven years after she was born. She saw him into and out of the world. She took his first embraces. She bore his children and she laid pennies on his eyes to keep his eyelids closed when he lay on his deathbed.
    (...)
    John Eglinton looked in the tangled glowworm of his lamp.
    —The world believes that Shakespeare made a mistake, he said, and got out of it as quickly and as best he could.
    —Bosh! Stephen said rudely. A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.
    (...) (...)

    —As we, or mother Dana, weave and unweave our bodies, Stephen said, from day to day, their molecules shuttled to and fro, so does the artist weave and unweave his image. And as the mole on my right breast is where it was when I was born, though all my body has been woven of new stuff time after time, so through the ghost of the unquiet father the image of the unliving son looks forth. In the intense instant of imagination, when the mind, Shelley says, is a fading coal, that which I was is that which I am and that which in possibility I may come to be. So in the future, the sister of the past, I may see myself as I sit here now but by reflection from that which then I shall be.
    (...) (...)
    —As for his family, Stephen said, his mother's name lives in the forest of Arden. Her death brought from him the scene with Volumnia in Coriolanus. His boyson's death is the deathscene of young Arthur in King John. Hamlet, the black prince, is Hamnet Shakespeare. Who the girls in The Tempest, in Pericles, in Winter's Tale are we know. Who Cleopatra, fleshpot of Egypt, and Cressid and Venus are we may guess. But there is another member of his family who is recorded.
    Etc. etc. And scoffingly: ‘Shakespeare is the happy huntingground of all minds that have lost their balance.’


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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    Quote Posted by araucaria (here)
    The modern figures I referenced involve people motivated to do a test, all 2 million of them.
    Most adult native test-takers range from 20,000–35,000 words
    People motivated to take a vocabulary test are hardly typical of the population!

    From http://highered.mheducation.com/site...cabulary_.html

    It is difficult to measure vocabulary size accurately. Total vocabulary size varies greatly from person to person, but people typically use about 5,000 words in their speech and about twice that many in their writing. A college-educated speaker of English could have a vocabulary as large as 80,000 words. Shakespeare, whose body of work is considered the greatest in English literature, used more than 33,000 words in his plays. This is an astonishing number, especially considering that he was writing 400 years ago.

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    Default Re: Mark Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (Shakespeare did NOT write Shakespeare…)

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
    Quote Posted by araucaria (here)
    The modern figures I referenced involve people motivated to do a test, all 2 million of them.
    Most adult native test-takers range from 20,000–35,000 words
    People motivated to take a vocabulary test are hardly typical of the population!

    From http://highered.mheducation.com/site...cabulary_.html

    It is difficult to measure vocabulary size accurately. Total vocabulary size varies greatly from person to person, but people typically use about 5,000 words in their speech and about twice that many in their writing. A college-educated speaker of English could have a vocabulary as large as 80,000 words. Shakespeare, whose body of work is considered the greatest in English literature, used more than 33,000 words in his plays. This is an astonishing number, especially considering that he was writing 400 years ago.
    Sure, but my point is that there were two million of them; they are way above average, but they show that Shakespeare’s vocabulary does not make him superhuman or too good to be true, just ahead of his time, and making good use of his talent.

    Some of today’s people might be Scrabble champions, but do they have anything interesting or useful to say? You can build a bigger house with more bricks, but can you build a beautiful one? What happened to ‘small is beautiful’?
    The great French tragedian Jean Racine (who wrote plays like Phèdre, Esther, Athalie or Andromaque) is noted for his great sobriety in all matters including vocabulary, so much so that people actually tend to understate the number of words he used (around 2,000; some say only 600). The French ‘mots’ (words) sounds the same as ‘maux’ (evils), enabling Paul Valéry to say ‘entre deux mots il faut choisir le moindre’ (you must choose the lesser of two (evil) words). Marcel Proust said that fine books are written almost in a foreign language, meaning ordinary words made to sound very different.

    Which is why Shakespeare is not held in such high regard in France. James Joyce rather shared this view, claiming Ibsen ‘towers head and shoulders above him when it comes to drama’. While obviously Joyce takes sides in the above debate, (although when he died he was planning a final book that would have been ‘very simple and very short’), it is made the subject of a violent dispute between his feuding twins, Shem the Penman and Shaun the Post. Shaun the Postman cannot write letters, only deliver them: How all too unwordy am I, a mere mailman of peace’, delivering an outrageous trgedy of postcards (‘outragedy of poetscalds’) and a comedy of errors from the academy of letters (Acomedy of letters’). For him the shaman Shem is a shameful sham (faker, forger): ‘every dimmed letter in it is a copy... the lowquacity of him... the last words is stolentelling’ [storytelling]....
    As Hélène Cixous notes in her essay ‘Thoth et l’écriture’, the language (‘slanguage’) is like money in a capitalist system coming under a communist takeover. There is the chant ‘So vi et!’ (so be it?), Shem is a ‘bogus bolshy’ [Bolchevik]; you also find an allusion to the Cheka (ancestor of the KGB), and to Beria (‘berial’). Shaun tells the fable of the serious, industrious ant and the irresponsible artist grasshopper (the Ondt and the Gracehoper); the ‘Gracehoper had jingled through a jungle of love and debts’ until he had ‘not one pickopeck of muscow-money’. Nowadays the same situation might be viewed in terms of an invasion of foreigners (words or people) taking over the language or country. Which suggests that the Clinton-Trump debate merely offers two presentations of the same side of this argument.

    This is just the politico-economic aspect of an ideological divide that goes much deeper. The debate goes all the way back to Socrates and beyond: the issue of whether writing is a ’remedy’ (pharmakon) to boost the memory – ‘writing, examined separately but ultimately equated with philosophy and rhetoric, is somewhat deprecated; it is stated that writing can do little but remind those who already know’, or actually some kind of poison: you have the ‘living, breathing discourse of one who knows, of which the written word can only be called an image’ (hence the notion of fakery). See here.

    This rhetorical view of writing, which is Shaun’s, is teleological or instrumental. You have something to say, and an imperfect tool with which to say it. Shem on the other hand is engaged in something different, for brevity’s sake a ‘poetical’ use of writing, no longer as a tool but as an art form to be explored. The symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé said ‘languages are imperfect, being several with no supreme one’, but that ‘poetry makes up for this defect’. Any ‘message’ is a possibly surprising byproduct of this exploration: there is the joke about the little old lady who said, ‘how can I know what I think until I’ve seen what I said?’ There is a hugely playful element in all of this; on the other hand it is a risky open-ended business; it has a deliberately uncontrolled quality, and a huge vocabulary is just one way of enjoyably letting things get out of control. If on the other hand you are a serious person needing the safety of certainty, then you will see it as dangerously subversive. This is where things do indeed get deadly serious; Finnegans Wake as a way of defusing the deadly danger is all about burying ancient sins, digging them up for disclosure, then moving on by rising above it all.

    Getting back to Shakespeare, in Shakespeare’s day, you could get hanged, drawn and quartered for this sort of thing. Shakespeare of course was not so much a writer as an actor and playwright. To that extent, he was like Socrates, who committed nothing to paper. I read somewhere that he was not overly interested in what became of his manuscripts, suggesting a performer whose job was done. The Folio edition would then be more in the way of a pharmakon, a remedy for loss of the memory of his live performances. Hence the texts, like the records of Plato, are somewhat rhetorical until their poetry is revived or rejuvenated in performance.

    Hence there is the danger that Shakespeare after Shakespeare becomes a revival of Shakespeare’s ghost. For someone like Joyce to demonstrate Shakespearean qualities means being totally Joycean; on a more general level, this is a call for absolute personal authenticity. The part of Shakespeare’s plays I would be most interested in are the parts that he improvised. You have the play within a play in Hamlet, where Hamlet brings in some players to improvise a scene re-enacting his father’s murder. This is an example of abandonment of control in purely theatrical terms. What Shakespeare himself got up to is the crucial element we shall never know; but the only way to find out, even very approximately, is by personal exploration.


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