New Publications

Posted By 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.

About the author

Roger Stritmatter is a native liberal humorist who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Contrary to rumor, he does not live on North Avenue. He does, however, work on North Avenue. A pacifist by inclination, one of his heroes is John Brown. But he thinks that Fredrick Douglass, another of his heroes, made the right decision. Stritmatter's primary areas of interest include the nature of paradigm shifts, the history of ideas, forensic literary studies, MS studies, renaissance literature, and the history of the Shakespearean question, the latter a field in which he has published extensively.


13 Responses to “New Publications”

  1. knitwitted says:

    Howdy Doc,

    Marie Merkel came up with a fantastic noodle imho that Jonson wrote Tempest based on the correspondences between it and Alchemist.

    The two of us have been brainstorming and we think perhaps a review of the parallels between the two plays regarding biblical allusions and prior sources would be interesting. Of course, we’ve yet to review prior scholarship so don’t know if such study has been done or if any study regarding Jonson’s usage of the Bible exists. Seems to me that Jonson’s prior sources would have to be reviewed for bible parallels much like Shaheen did for Shax. And I do note Shaheen says that of all the plays, Tempest has the fewest biblical parallels (in fact, it has very few.) Personally, I think the whole of such a study would be worthy of mainstream publication regardless of what answer we’re seeking.

    Another noodle is the possibility that Jonson snuck one of his own plays into the FF knowing it was written after de Vere’s death to throw suspicion away from de Vere as the author. Do we really know who wrote Tempest?

  2. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Dear Knitwitted,

    I’m not surprised that you have taken up with Ms. Merkel at this juncture in the dynamic evolution of the discovery process. If you want to work to with her to prove that Jonson wrote the Tempest then I certainly wish you the best of luck. However, I have to restrict the hypotheses I pursue to those that I think may plausibly be transformed into theories with significant support, and I would say that the notion that Jonson wrote Tempest is not in my opinion one of them.

    Good luck, au revoir, and all that.

  3. says:

    Dear Knit,

    If Jonson wrote Alchemist, why would he want to repeat himself in Tempest? Or probably I should say: If Jonson wrote Tempest, why would he want to repeat himself in Alchemist?

    Even I don’t write the same book twice.

    Good luck with Marie’s and your project, and the quest of both of you for mainstream publication.

  4. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Yes Lynne, I think that Ms. Merkel may wish to study up on the distinction between intertextuality and evidence for common authorship, as well as the methodological problems posed by the the shared idioms of a given dialect.

    My impression is that the idea of Jonson as the author of *The Tempest* would be for most scholars pretty much a non-starter based on stylistic considerations alone. This is one instance where I would have to agree with them.

    Looney was a very perceptive historical scholar but he exaggerated the extent to which *The Tempest* is atypical within the context of the development of Shakespearean style, don’t you agree? It is in many critical respects utterly typical of his later work.

  5. says:

    I am reminded of something in our book:

    “Penny McCarthy’s axiom of lectio facetior (“the wittier reading”) applies to Eastward Ho’s parodic inversions of Shakespeare’s play. Parody thrives by transmuting romance (or tragedy) into farce; the “wittier reading” depends on the reader’s apprehension of an intentional relationship between parody and object. Translating the mysterious locale of Prospero’s island into the familiar topos of the Thames River and depositing the shipwrecked survivors on the Isle of Dogs, Eastward Ho achieves a full measure of comic effect, reducing Shakespeare’s exotic locale to the homely realism of the controversial Thames river site.”

    Jonson is one of the authors of EH. EH parodies all sorts of Shakespeare plays, including Hamlet.and Richard III. Are you ladies suggesting that Jonson or one of his cohorts wrote Hamlet or Richard III before making a travesty of them? And what about Alchemist, which is clearly “the wittier reading,” especially in the passages that Marie compares to Tempest. Could Jonson possibly have written Tempest and then parodied his own play? It would be rather a strange undertaking.

  6. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Hello again, Lynne, and thanks for your additional point. Actually I’m inclined to think that either Shakespeare or Jonson might well be capable of self-parody.

    I think, for example, of Shakespeare’s own parodies of Euphuism, which I would take to be parodies in a sense of his own earlier style, which was quite Euphuistic in his early days.

    But in a larger sense I agree entirely that these are the kinds of questions that must be considered if one wants to make a serious contribution to attribution or influence studies. We did not conclude in our book (, quite properly, that just because there is dense intertextuality between *Eastward Ho* and several Shakespeare plays that they were written by Shakespeare or that the Shakespeare plays are themselves the collaborative product of the three known authors of *Eastward Ho.*

    This would have been a bit silly when the obvious alternative is simply that the authors of EH were making fun of Shakespeare. Interesting, also, that they joined forces to do so in or just after 1604.

    We didn’t really enlarge on the implications of this timing in our book, as it was beyond the purposes we had set for ourselves, but I believe it is a “question to be asked.”

  7. says:

    oops, sorry for the typos. Need a new glasses prescription. ‘Travestying’ should be replaced by ‘travesty of.’ I’m watching the ‘dead parrot’ skit while posting. It’s easy to get distracted!

  8. Roger Stritmatter says:

    No problem; comment has been edited. What is the dead parrot skit? I am cooking turkey soup. Almost burned it but caught it just in time. Need a bigger pot.

  9. says:

    Monty Python–Dead Parrot

  10. says:

    Thanks for the links!

  11. knitwitted says:

    Good a.m. Lynne and Roger,

    Let’s go back shall we to the foundation of my and Marie’s proposed study. Again, please note we’ve yet to research prior scholarship for such study.

    1. Two plays seemingly parallel each other.

    2. We know Tempest contains biblical allusions that don’t come from prior sources (per Shaheen).
    A. We want to find biblical allusions in Alchemist. Then compare those allusions with Jonson’s prior sources (as did Shaheen). {So why wouldn’t this part of the study be of interest to mainstream bible scholars?}
    B. Further, we want to compare both biblical allusions AND prior sources among the two plays. {So why wouldn’t this part of the study also be of interest to mainstream scholars? How’s that comparative literature thing work again?}

    3. Then, we review and fine-tune our noodles based on what the evidence suggests. There is no grief in “what-iffing” prior to such evidentiary conclusions. {So why would it be so difficult to think an author would re-write his own play from a different perspective? The author would have intimate knowledge of every aspect of his original play. Who better than he to further explore his own work? Maybe because Tempest is so short, the author wanted to expand upon it. Seriously, what-iffing is F-U-N. There is no requirement I’m aware of that I must actually scientifically prove such creative noodles.}

    Not to point out the obvious, but this isn’t a proposed knock-down of your book. It is an alternate scenario which any subjective study of Tempest supports. Surely, you don’t suggest your book (i.e. opinions) is the final word on Tempest studies.

    Perhaps you read my “Haven Phenix”, another scenario which also fits nicely with:

    1. Seb. “A living drollery. Now I will believe That there are unicorns; that in Arabia There is one tree, the phoenix’ throne, one phoenix At this hour reigning there.”
    i.e. “A living drollery” = a mish-mash of Eliz’s and Jas VI’s arms (lions and unicorns) into Jas I’s arms (lion and unicorn)
    i.e. “one tree” = the descendancy (the genealogy tree) of the English throne

    2. Prospero = Henry VIII

    3. Caliban = a monk turned out as a “monster” by H8 and is enslaved by his new master… “I never saw a woman But only Sycorax my dam and she; But she as far surpasseth Sycorax As great’st does least.”
    i.e. Monks don’t “see” women. “She” is Eliz who has control (as head of the Protestant church) over the banished monks.

    4. Miranda = Eliz I

    5. Ferdinand = Jas VI

    6. The marriage between Miranda and Ferdinand = unity of Eliz and Jas… “Here Prospero discovers Ferdinand and Miranda playing at chess.”
    i.e. A peaceable “battle” and ultimate merging of the two kingdoms into one.

    7. Ferdinand “bearing a log” = the changing of the stone altars to the altar of the wooden Communion table per the Reformation. He is carrying on Prospero’s “trade”.

    Roger, your comment to Lynne “Looney was a very perceptive historical scholar but he exaggerated the extent to which *The Tempest* is atypical within the context of the development of Shakespearean style, don’t you agree? It is in many critical respects utterly typical of his later work.” haha. I think you’ve unwittingly betrayed your own issue that Tempest was written earlier than the scholars have deemed in that NOW you must prove how Shax’s “later work” ALL were written earlier. Further, again, per Shaheen, of all the plays, Tempest has the least number of biblical allusions, in fact, having very few. And isn’t it the shortest play? So do you agree Shax’s “later work” also have such “utterly typical” parallels?

    Roger, Lynne, sincerely, the joy for me is exploring alternate scenarios. IMHO nobody’s opinion is ever wrong. Certainly, we may disagree (and we have and we will and with varying degrees of intensity and, admittedly, I love the effectiveness of Reedy’s scholarly “haha’s”). But please consider not denouncing the foundation of a proposed study which I see could easily be interesting to mainstream. Personally, I have no vested interest in any noodles (i.e. opinions). They are merely such stuff that are made of eggs. Either they get fertilized and hatch or they don’t.

    Best all and Happy New Year!

    P.S. Lynne, I wasn’t certain you were speaking to me re “Thanks for the links!” but I assume it was me and not Roger as per the facts below so stated:
    1. Roger per his comment 9:50 p.m. Dec 27th so noted he was cooking turkey soup.
    2. At the time of your comment 8:18 p.m. Dec 28th I was in the midst of a chicken and sausage gumbo but, in full disclosure, I neglected to record such tasty event anywhere on the internet as proof of such. If need be, I can obtain notarized affidavits from my company so stating they did indeed witness my intake of such.
    3. Regarding what “links” you could possibly be referring to, between Roger’s and my activities, please note mine includes “sausages”.
    4. Therefore I insist Roger is out as recipient of said comment.
    5. And so I wish to respond “Lynne, you’re quite welcome! I hope they were helpful!”

    P.P.S. Roger, if you want to peg me as a foe, that’s fine. I don’t have time in my life to play the grudge game as I prefer learning over such self-defeating indignation. In response to your “Good luck, au revoir, and all that” I say “What’s done is done, neither here nor there, and all that.” And as a further parting gesture in sincerity, “The shoo is on your foot” not mine.

  12. Roger Stritmatter says:


    No, I didn’t say that The Tempest was an early work. I said it was written by 1603. Those aren’t the same thing, capisce? Maybe if you stopped trying to sound so clever you would be more effective. I don’t agree with Mr. Niederkorn on that point.

    As for the rest, I merely regard you as another person who is on the path to discover. We all make mistakes, and I sincerely wish you the best of luck even if you chose to hang your hat with some pretty unseemly characters.

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