Skip to comments.Justice Stevens Renders an Opinion on Who Wrote Shakespeare's Plays
Posted on 04/19/2009 10:06:12 PM PDT by zaphod3000
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.
...[S]ince 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.
Not all members of the court are persuaded. "To the extent I've dipped in, I'm not impressed with the Oxfordian theory," says Justice Anthony Kennedy. The spread of Oxfordianism on the court "shows Justice Stevens's power and influence," Justice Kennedy says. Of the nine active justices, only Stephen Breyer joins Justice Kennedy in sticking up for Will. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito declined to comment.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Or Shakespeare plagarized other plays and poems that he had access too.
I’ve done a fair amount of reading on this issue.
What I’ve never seen adequately addressed is the issue of motivation.
Given the social prestige issues involved, in today’s world it is approximately as if Dick Cheney had been secretly writing General Hospital scripts for the last 10 years.
While this is possible, I’m unclear why Dick would want to do it.
There is very little evidence that contemporaries viewed Shakespeare’s plays as great art, or for that matter as tremendously better than the plays of his competitors.
Which just goes to show that sometimes contemporaries are idiots.
Or Shakespeare had really good agents.
I agree. BTW, I think it instructive that the judge prefers an aristocrat over someone of lower birth. But as you say, his contemporaries did not fuss over him. Lawrence Olivier, whose origins were similar best captured Shakespeare and his millieu in his film, Henry V. The Globe was no more high brow than our local cinemax.
Kind of delayed-action agents. He wasn’t accepted as the greatest English poet and playwright till the late 18th century, well over 150 years after his death.
Stevens is trying to prove Shakespeare was a fraud 500 years after the fact. Stevens has no interest in learning if Hussein is eligble to be POTUS due to BC or NBC.
I am sure shakespeare would have some famous line for steves idiocy or folly.
TOTUS is a fraud King like Hamlet’s uncle.
Dang good point.
Perhaps he’s basing his opinions on the penumbras and emanations of the plays rather than their actual text.
Claudius is a perfectly legitimate king, as the Danish monarchy of the time was elective within the royal family, not strictly hereditary by primogeniture.
He gained the crown using criminal methods, but he was not usurping Hamlet's "right" to the throne.
“A birth certificate, a birth certificate, my kingdom for a (legitimate HI) birth certifcate!”
Hussein the Totus
from “TOTUS the Third” Act V
Gained the throne through criminal methods? Sort of like a Danish version of ACORN?
“Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito declined to comment.”
I agree with their approach to the issue and attitude.
AFAIK, ACORN did not kill the previous president. In fact, I think he’s still alive. Although possibly wanted in Spain for crimes against humanity.
You are exactly right, although he was very popular with the masses. Shakespeare became quite rich from his investment in the Globe theatre.
But he fell out of fashion quickly after his death. Classical forms of the theatre came into vogue. By those standards, Shakespeare was quite mediocre, even awful.
So Shakespeare was ignored for 200 years as an inferior playwright until the German Romantics rediscovered him in the early 1800s. The Germans taught the English to appreciate their greatest playwright. And then by 1830 the French caught the fever for Shakespeare as well. So Shakespeare's reputation as a the greatest playwright of all times is only 200 years old.
You are absolutely right.
By Aristotelian standards, Shakespeare was an atrocious playwright.
So much the worse for Aristotle.
Indeed. Perhaps laced rather liberally with prepossessions as well.
He did take many of his plots from older plays. Romeo and Juliet (Giulietta e Romeo) was a popular Italian story. There were several versions of it. Shakespeare's play was based on the version by Matteo Bandello.
This was the common practice of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. It was not considered plagiarism. An author took an existing story and refashioned it by adding what he considered the essential details of the story. Or he changed details of an Italian story to suite English practices and tastes.
A much earlier example is Chaucer's poem "Troilus and Criseyde". This is an ancient Greek tale, but Chaucer based his version on the poem "Filostrato" by the Italian Boccacio. It was just the way things were done.
I am underwhelmed. Sometimes things just aren’t as complicated as one would think.
“Alas Bush (3.9% unemployment and Dow 13,500) - I knew thee well.”
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