Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Shakespeare and his collected works

Did William Shakespeare of Stratford, the guy who left his wife his second-best bed, write Hamlet and Love's Labour's Lost and Henry V and all those sonnets?

I don't know. (Also, this portrait from the First Folio may or may not be anything like Shakespeare, but it's about all we have.)

Of course, I had always thought so, just like Homer composed (using some pre-existing bits) both the Iliad and the Odyssey. (I was taught Homer by "a naive unitarian.") But now I am liking the "Shake-speare as pseudonym" idea.

(I am not going to link to anything about this! There are a million opinions and convictions and arguments.)

That William of Stratford left not a single letter strikes me as a kind of serious counter-argument to his being a writer. Especially a writer involved in the theatre in London while living in Stratford.

Some people say that William couldn't have written the plays because he had no education, and some other people object to this because genius flowers in the strangest places. The genius of the writer (whoever...) is not in question, but our writer certainly had considerable education in a variety of fields!

Why did he leave no books? Why didn't he even teach his children to read?

I have a number of books about this on hold at the library, so I shall see what I come up with in the coming weeks. Elaine is reading Romeo and Juliet at school this year and Arthur gets Hamlet, so there will certainly be some Shakespearian discussion at the dinner table.

I'll keep you posted about this. (Although really, it is not very important... )