The Playgoer: Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Oxfordians

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Oxfordians

I'm pleased naturally with the multiplicity of comments on my last post on the anti-Shakespeare movie, Anonymous.  And I can't help notice that those who--for some reason, in this day and age--have sworn to defend the good name of Edward DeVere, 17th Earl of Oxford, have been doing their Googling and ended up at my site to spread their propaganda and say bad things about debunker-debunker James Shapiro wherever they can.

Welcome to my blog, folks! Nice to meet you.

Just glancing at your comments, though, I see the same old lazy debating points that have never convinced me before and still don't. So I'm inviting you to step up your game and really show me why I should take your arguments seriously. You probably don't think I have an open mind, but one thing I do respect is evidence. So while I have always been perfectly satisfied that the plays of William Shakespeare were written by the guy who everyone in his own time said wrote them (namely, one William Shakespeare)... I'd like to think I'm objective enough as a scholar and theatre historian to at least evaluate your evidence fairly.

So here is my challenge to you, Oxfordians: show us what you got.  Tell us what you think is the ONE most decisive piece of evidence that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford wrote these plays. Not that he could have. But that he absolutely did and is the only person who could have.

Notice: I did not say tell us why you think William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon didn't write what's credited to him. Because even if you somehow could prove that negative, that doesn't mean De Vere did write them, does it? So you must argue in the affirmative, not the negative.

Some take your best shot, conspiracy theorists. I'll take on each comment point by point and promise to grant credence to anything I find actually credible. And if it's not credible to me, I'll tell you exactly why in rational argument. Not just because I'm some stupid Bard-idolator, ok?

11 comments:

Thomas Garvey said...

The Oxfordians have no best shot; there's just no evidence there. And similarities between characters in the plays and the Earl of Oxford (which do indeed exist) are made moot by the simple question, "But couldn't Shakespeare have ASKED the Earl of Oxford about his experiences?" And then there's the problem that the verse we have from Oxford is all pretty weak. And that various software algorithms have found no connection between his style and Shakespeare's. The Oxfordians are reduced to the argument that Edward DeVere would publish his worst stuff under his own name, and his best stuff under somebody else's. Which somebody should really write an absurdist comedy about.

Thomas Garvey said...

And frankly, I think the Oxfordians should be honest with themselves about something else: when Roland Emmerich takes up your cause, you should know you're toast.

The Playgoer said...

Roland Emmerich, indeed! Good one.

But I think the whole claim about supposed "parallels" between DeVere and Shakespearean characters is even lamer than you say, Thomas. I mean, so what if DeVere's father died and Hamlet's father died? Does that mean ANYone whose father dies can write "Hamlet"? ANYone who goes to Italy can write "Romeo and Juliet"? ANYone who has participated in court intrigue can write "Richard III"?

They're leaving out one little thing: talent.

The bleeding obvious truth is such "life experience" was totally unnecessary to writing these plays since, a) such things happen to lots of people other than one Edward De Vere; and, b) Shakespeare got these stories from other people's books! R & J is taken from a poem by a guy named Broome. RichIII is from Holingshed's chronicles. And Hamlet is from some Nordic tale by a certain Saxto Grammaticus. So DeVere's life is actually totally IRRELEVANT. These stories were not dreamed up out of divine inspiration. They were adaptations of popular books. So even IF De Vere wrote these plays, he still would have gotten the pots from those books, not his autobiography.

Now I know that the Oxfordians will counter: Aha! But where did the puny man from Stratford GET such books? Where's his library? (Where's the Birth Certificate!!!)

So take it away, Oxfordians. Explain to us all why the lack of surviving evidence of Shakespeare's books means he never, never had any--- as opposed to such records simply disappearing after 400 years.

Thomas Garvey said...

Well, I think there are so many parallels between De Vere's life and the plays (and sonnets) that he was clearly entwined with Shakespeare's life. But insisting that he actually WROTE the canon is a bit like insisting Huey Long must have written All the King's Men.

The Playgoer said...

I'm not sure I even concede these parallels at all...

Funny, isn't it, that it's still just you and I out here, Thomas. I guess Oxfordians take weekends off.

John Branch said...

Too bad none of the Oxfordians (or whatever they should be called) came forward to answer Playgoer's challenge. I'd like to see their case laid out clearly and concisely.

cgeye said...

like I said: Trolls.

Howard Schumann said...

I'm not going to play your game. If you are really interested in the case for de Vere, there are many websites that clearly lay out the case. For example:

www.politicworm.com
http://hankwhittemore.wordpress.com
http://shakespearebyanothername.blogspot.com/
http://www.shakespeare-oxford.com/

as well as the following books:

SUGGESTED READING
Great Oxford - Selection of Essays produced by the De Vere Society - Parapress 2005

Shakespeare by Another Name, The Life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, The Man Who Was Shakespeare - Mark Anderson 2005

Shakespeare Identified - J T Looney. Kennicat Press USA } 2 volume

Who Wrote Shakespeare? - J Michell. Thames & Hudson

The Mysterious William Shakespeare - Charlton Ogburn. EPM Publications USA

Alias Shakespeare - J Sobran. Simon & Schuster/Free Press. 1997

de Vere as Shakespeare: An Oxfordian Reading of the Canon William Farina - McFarland & Co., 2006

Shakespeare Suppressed - Kathleen Chiljan - Faire Editions; 1st edition (September 1, 2011)

The Playgoer said...

Ok, well thanks for the homework Howard. And if by "game" you mean simply an exchange of some brief rational statements, then I'm sorry you're not up for it. I'm curious just what tricks you think I'm up to.

I'm only asking a simple question--what's the one piece of pro-Oxford evidence you find most persuasive and should be enough to persuade an open minded reader out there. (Fine, forget about me.) So let it be noted I offered you and other like-mindeds an open, unedited forum and all you can do is rattle off a list of books by supposed experts we should presumably "defer" to?

John said...

A common and central trope among the anti-Stratfordians, including Looney, is the use of textual comparison. References in one man's works popping up in the other's is taken as evidence that they were written by the same hand. That is a very flimsy foundation upon which to build a theory. Consider the lyrics in these two 60's pop songs:

EVERY LITTLE THING (The Beatles)
"Every little thing she does, she does for me, yeah. And you know the things she does,
She does for me, oooh." - Lennon/McCartney

SHE DOES EVERYTHING FOR ME (The Zombies)
"She does everything for me, she makes me feel all right. And everything she does for me, she makes me feel all right" - Rod Argent

Would Looney then conclude that the Zombies, being from a relatively posh London suburb instead of a grotty dock town, actually ghost-wrote the Beatles' songs?

James said...

Now, about the dozen plays that first appeared after Oxford's death..