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Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

The great Shakespearean scholar James Shapiro has this wonderful oped in today’s New York Times. Writing about the latest conspiracy du jour involving authorship of Shakespeare’s plays, Shapiro delightfully picks apart the thesis that Edward de Vere was the Bard’s ghostwriter:

“[P]romoters of de Vere’s cause have a lot of evidence to explain away, including testimony of contemporary writers, court records and much else that confirms that Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him. Meanwhile, not a shred of documentary evidence has ever been found that connects de Vere to any of [Shakespeare’s] plays or poems…. Perhaps the greatest obstacle facing de Vere’s supporters is that he died in 1604, before 10 or so of Shakespeare’s plays were written.”

Shapiro is one of the nation’s leading Shakespearean scholars and this author was lucky enough to participate in a semester-long seminar with him in the 1980s. At that time, the ripe theory was that Christopher Marlowe was Shakespeare’s true author, a concept Shapiro effectively derided at length. Marlowe was no doubt a wonderful writer but this theory seems to have withered in recent years, only to be replaced by the de Vere conspiracy.

If only this conspiracy could be put to rest as easily as, say, a birth certificate controversy. Or as Paulina pleaded in The Winter’s Tale, “What’s gone and what’s past help, should be past grief.”

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