Sunday, June 5, 2011

Love's Labor's Lost - Authorship Evidence - Part 1

Love's Labor's Lost - Authorship Evidence - Part 1

There's a great deal of evidence on the authorship question regarding this play. And it's important enough to post most of the main points. So it will cover four separate posts to make it more digestible. Remember I'm leaving out much of the evidence and analysis for sake of space.
This is taken from Cockburn's Chapter 9 pgs 129-146

The play's plot has the King of Navarre (then an autonomous province in the South-West corner of France) and three of his young Lords vowing to devote three years to study, excluding woman and merriment. They set up an academy for this purpose. But a princess (daughter of the King of France) arrives with her three Ladies-in-waiting, whom the men find distracting.

The incidents of this plot match very well actual events in France in 1578. Then, Henri Bourbon was King of Navarre and another Henry, Henry III was King of France. Francis Bacon was in France from September 1576-March 1579, being attached to the British Ambassador there.

The play was first known to have been published in 1598, but this appears to be a revised version. It's also not known where it was first played. For many reasons, it's argued here that it was meant to part of the Gray's Inn Christmas Revels of 1594-95 along with The Comedy of Errors. The firm evidence we have is that it was played before two private audiences--once before Queen Elizabeth, and another time at either Southampton House or at the home of Robert Cecil before Queen Anne in 1605.

Following are the points relevant to the authorship question:

Point 1) Like with The Comedy of Errors, it wouldn't have been economical for a playwright to write a play meant for a private audience, either at Gray's Inn, or elsewhere. The 1631 Folio of Shake-Speare's Works says it was performed at the Globe and at the Blackfriars Theatres, but we don't have evidence that it actually was and this may have been added as another sales ploy long after the event.

Point 2) The clever bantering and in-jokes in the play favor an insider authorship and a peculiar audience, rather than the usual public theater attendees.

Example (a) the reference to the School of Night [act 4,scene 3] refers to the disagreements between the circle of friends of Walter Raleigh that favored a life of contemplation and study as opposed to having love interests, and Raleigh's enemy the Earl of Essex and his circle (including Bacon) that didn't exclude the study of love, along with their academic interests. The slight at Raleigh's school favors Bacon's authorship, as Essex was his close friend and someone he advised. The argument for Will Shakepere is that he had the Earl of Southampton as his patron and as Southampton was also friends with Essex that W. Shakspere too might have made the same slight at Raleigh. But there isn't clear evidence of Southampton's patronage of Will Shakspere. Nor is there any evidence of a friendship between him and Essex.

Example (b) The character in the play named Don Armado acts and speaks like a historical person that was a friend to Francis Bacon and his brother Anthony. Don Armado resembles Antonio Perez who was a Spanish Secretary of State who defected and came to England in April 1593 and joined somewhat to the Essex circle. Both Francis Bacon and his brother Anthony mention him in their letters, as does King Henry IV of France and Navarre in a letter to Anthony. In the play, Don Armado was a Spanish braggart who used flowery, affected language. Antonio Perez had a similar personality to this and used similar language, which annoyed the Bacon brothers so much they were glad to be rid of him later. More specifically, in the play, Holofernes says of Don Armado: "He is too picked, too spruce, too affected, too odd, as it were, too peregrinate, as I may call it". "Peregrinate" meaning "Having the air of one who has lived or travelled abroad". Antonio Perez had nicknamed himself "Peregrino" and signed letters and his book with this name. We also know that Francis Bacon well knew this word as he used a variation of it, writing "a full period [end] of all instability and peregrination". In addition, one of Anthony Bacon's contacts wrote of Perez that "Surely he is, as we say, an odd man".

Francis Bacon was far more likely to know of these peculiarities of Perez than would be Will Shakspere, and far more likely to have a motive to write them in a play since he close friends could appreciate the inside joke. The Stratfordian argument is that Don Armado (as well as other characters) is a stock character of the Italian Commedia del Arte and not unusual. Italian players had visited England, but this was in the 1570's and so would have been much too early for Will Shakspere to be very familiar with them, whereas Bacon had ample opportunity to learn about them while at the French court in the 1570s. Plus, Martin Hume, in his Spanish Influence in English Literature (1905) observed that "No one can read Perez's many published letters and Relacianoes [a book] without identifying numerous affected turns of speech with those put into the mouth of Don Adriano Armado".

So, the forgoing evidence again favors Bacon's authorship of Love's Labor's Lost over that of William Shakspere's. [end of Part 1 of 4]

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