Wednesday, November 16, 2011

That Gangster Shakespeare

That Gangster Shakespeare

An article on the internet getting discussed lately is by historian Mike Dash. His article, “William Shakespeare, Gangster” is on the Nov. 7, 2011 site (link will be below). Mike Dash is described as the New York Times best-selling author and historian. He is not an ‘anti-Stratfordian’ (at this time anyway). But he doesn’t seem to have studied the authorship evidence that is opposed to the orthodox view. In any case, he wrote about a little mentioned document that shows William Shakespeare of Stratford as having been “involved in the low-life rackets of Southwark” within the “shadiest part of the theater world”.  Dash writes that Shakespeare biographers tend to dismiss or distort this document from its clear reading of a charge regarding William’s threat of life upon another “gangster” type in London’s rough theater world and the rackets that surrounded it. This is not to say that this was a long time activity of William, if Dash’s interpretation is accurate, or that he couldn’t also have had a great imagination and flair for words. My question is this – why is it that Shakespeare biographers, like Schoenbaum, hardly want to acknowledge this historical document and deal with its implications?  Isn’t it because they really do believe that character matters, as do a writer’s interests, associates, and attitudes?  Profiling is already done to some degree for every authorship candidate that I’ve read about.  So readers interested in authorship evidence should give this category a fair review and include all relevant evidence.

Comparisons of Shakespeare to Francis Bacon with respect to their political views, historical interests, familiarity with music and sports and medicine, attitudes toward money, as well as gardening, law, languages, and philosophy are all covered here in the June 2011 topics.

In addition, here is a brief appraisal of Bacon’s reputation by the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (“A peer-Reviewed Academic Resource”). This is by someone who is definitely not a “Baconian”. (As usual, he too seems unaware of the authorship evidence). At least though, readers who do spend some time examining evidence, should keep the following in consideration:

“Sir Francis Bacon (later Lord Verulam and the Viscount St. Albans) was an English lawyer, statesman, essayist, historian, intellectual reformer, philosopher, and champion of modern science. Early in his career he claimed “all knowledge as his province” and afterwards dedicated himself to a wholesale revaluation and re-structuring of traditional learning. “

If anyone deserves the title “universal genius” or “Renaissance man” (accolades traditionally reserved for those who make significant, original contributions to more than one professional discipline or area of learning), Bacon clearly merits the designation. Like Leonardo and Goethe, he produced important work in both the arts and sciences. Like Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, he combined wide and ample intellectual and literary interests (from practical rhetoric and the study of nature to moral philosophy and educational reform) with a substantial political career. Like his near contemporary Machiavelli, he excelled in a variety of literary genres – from learned treatises to light entertainments – though, also like the great Florentine writer, he thought of himself mainly as a political statesman and practical visionary: a man whose primary goal was less to obtain literary laurels for himself than to mold the agendas and guide the policy decisions of powerful nobles and heads of state.”

A couple more quotations from Francis Bacon:

"As for my Essays and some other particulars of that nature, I count them but as the recreations of my other studies, and in that sort purpose to continue them; though I am not ignorant that that kind of writing would, with less pains and embracement, perhaps yield more lustre and reputation to my name than those other which I have in hand."--Bacon to Bishop Andrews, 1622.

Note: How could this other writing he refers to not “yield more luster and reputation” to his name, unless it wasn’t to be published, or at least wasn’t to be published under his name??

I am not hunting for fame nor establishing a sect. Indeed, to receive any private emolument from so great an undertaking I hold to be both ridiculous and base.”  

Note: if he wasn’t “hunting for fame” from his serious great undertakings, it’s quite likely he wouldn’t be seeking it either from his “recreations” or “merry tales” (mentioned elsewhere).

Referenced links:

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