Posted By Roger Stritmatter on February 7, 2011
Gary Goldstein reminded me that I published last spring in Cahiers Élisabéthains an article that may be of some interest to Oxfordians as well as other Early Modern scholars — “‘Spenser’s Perfect Pattern of a Poet’ and the 17th Earl of Oxford.”
The article doesn’t come right out and say “Oxford was Shakespeare” — I have too much respect for the editors at Cahiers to ask them to endorse that heresy. But if you read between the lines you’ll see what I mean. By 1579 Oxford’s contemporaries were already urging him to “Shake his speare” by writing some serious tragedy.
All in all the peer review gods and goddesses have not been too unkind during the last year or two — in addition to the Cahiers article, Lynne Kositsky and I finally saw in print in 2010 our “Tempest as Shrovetide Revelry” article in the Shakespeare Yearbook.
Publication of that essay was unfortunately delayed by three years due to the illness of Douglas Brooks, who passed away from Cancer at age 52 in January 2009. Of all the articles we wrote together on The Tempest we enjoyed this one the most, and although most of the blood is going to be shed over the other essays and wrangling about the date (which the Stratfordians have gotten horribly wrong for far too long now) of the play, this is also the essay that has the greatest significance for reading, performing, or appreciating the play.
The article seems to be causing some healthy stir on the internet (the chief problem with Stratfordian stirs is that most of them happen behind closed doors), already provoking one (rather eccentric) review by Marie Merkel. However much it is angled at a particular conclusion (namely the “argument” that The Tempest was written by Ben Jonson!), Merkel’s response does make at least one significant criticism — namely the lack of attention we paid to the case made by John Bender for a Hallowmass orientation of Tempest.
We did deal at some length in our article on the parallel arguments set forth by R. Chris Hassel, in his wonderful book, Renaissance Drama and the English Church Year, as well as Grace R. W. Hall in her Tempest as Mystery Play. Everyone, including Hassel in his otherwise brilliant study of the influence of the liturgical calendar on Early Modern drama, assumes that because the first surviving record of a Tempest production is from Hallowmas (Nov. 1) 1611, that if the play has any liturgical orientation, its to that occasion — a notion that we showed Hassel and Hall couldn’t do much with. But we didn’t specifically weigh and refute Bender’s case. We look forward to doing so if and when the completed Tempest book can be published and are grateful to Merkel for pointing out the lacuna.
Another long-delayed article that’s recently been published is a collaborative piece, with a psychoanalytical slant, that the prodigious Richard Waugaman and I wrote. Our “Who Was ‘William Shakespeare?’ We propose he was Edward de Vere” not only appeared in the 32:2 (2009) The Scandinavian Psychoanalytical Review (from the University Press of Southern Denmark) but inspired an editorial comment Editor-in-Chief David Titelman:
“Reading the Waugaman and Stritmatter article, I noted in myself a surprising irritation with [Ernst] Jones’s [anti-Oxfordian] attitude and that I shared the authors’ triumph over the proof offered by De Vere’s annotated Bible” (83).
Waugaman recently started a blog, at the delightful domain The Oxfreudian — on which I’ll have more to say in another post.