We’re Done Here

Posted By on October 1, 2011

"We're Done Here."

I have been trying with scant success to pull myself away from the blogosphere for long enough to finish up chapter summaries for the de Vere Bible book (more on that anon), but news keeps breaking that draws me back.

Last night, as some readers may know, Roland Emmerich debated James Shapiro at the Director’s Guild of America on 57th Street in Manhattan. Mark Anderson was present, and his blog posting on the event is some of the best analysis of the “state of the debate” I’ve read in a while.

Amazingly, yes, Shapiro played the Nazi card at the  Director’s Guild, saying that  “The film seems to [involve] on one side a lot of blond-haired guys who cared about their bloodlines who want to somehow restore something from the past that was great.”

As Mark reports:

“Yes, you read that correctly. Speaking to a successful and acclaimed German director, James Shapiro went THERE. It was a dog-whistle moment — effectively accusing the German filmmaking team of conveying reactionary or Nazi-like messages — that was truly shameful to witness.”

My own take on the whole event is, however, best summed up by the aborted exchange Anderson had with Shapiro:

Circumstantial evidence does not count.

Ask any lawyer. Circumstantial evidence wins the day in courtrooms around the world every day.

This is not a law case. It’s Shakespeare.


We are done here.

To which one can only add — “no kidding.”    Truly a memorable Fitzcarraldo moment.

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.


4 Responses to “We’re Done Here”

  1. kenkap says:

    Regarding the Strats and Shapiro in particular who is an arrogant jerk and wrote a crappy straw man book. In their resolve and fear concerning authorship, they allow no middle ground. I used to be a committed Oxfordian and presented at many conferences. I’m a little more neutral in the sense that one big question put out originally by Steven May has never been answered. If Oxford wrote the later plays before he died in 1604, what accounts for the move toward a decided Jacobean style and change of form in them that really was not prevalent in the prior Elizabethan period? That has to be answered for me.

    HOWEVER, it is clear from one piece of evidence alone, the Bedingfield letter, that there is_some form of relationship_ between DeVere and Shakespeare. Author? Influence? Patron? Secret collaborator? Who knows. But “know it alls” like Shapiro will not be open to exploration.

    My God, Shakespeare dedicates V&A to Southampton just as the latter is involved in a potential MARRIAGE to Devere’s daughter. Does one think for a second “Shakespeare” was unaware of Devere (As David Kathman would have us think?) or did not know who he was? Even as in Hamlet “Shakespeare” plunders Devere, in source material (Cardanus Comforte), word usage (“murder” in the figurative-used 20 years in the most sophisticated manner before OED credits Shakespeare for first usage), imagery, and life events?

    These guys. Yes there is enormous circumstantial evidence to suggest an important relationship between the two men. And by the way, why WAS “Shakespeare” so fascinated by the Queen’s Men material? At least Sams took a run at it and thought Shakespeare was their author, which might be very close to the truth. These bozos really give us nothing about why, where, who, what the author was involved in.

    If Devere could use language in such a visionary manner at age 23, then we must be looking intellectually at one of the brightest bulbs around. For this reason alone and for all those connections Shapiro is in denial of, there should be concentration on the two men (or one).

    But its too big a slippery slope. Therefore, they end up as dishonest. Greenblatt can write a garbage fantasy bio and be feted. The politics of this is disgusting. I have lost almost all respect for Shapiro. His zealous denial of the integration of life and art borders on the irrational.

    This is a very frightened man. And this film will invade his dreams for years. Kudos to Emmerich, who probably will not let this die for a while.

  2. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Hi Ken,

    Great post. I’m afraid I’m unable to offer much in the way of a defense for Professor Shapiro. Regarding the “Jacobean” character of the plays, this is mostly smoke and mirrors. Romances were in vogue during the mid-1580s onward. *The Tempest*, Lynne K. and I have shown (http://www.shakespearestempest.com) convincingly if not conclusively, was being staged by 1603. *Winter’s Tale* is named in the stationer’s register in 1594 as “A Wynters nightes pastime” (it will be called “The Winter’s Night’s Tale” in the Revels Accounts of 1611).

    What we are really talking about here, it seems to me, is a well fortified series of *assumptions* taking the place of real investigation. Stratfordians need a vogue of “Jacobean” plays to keep their chronology safe from independent scrutiny. To accomplish this they even have to claim that the bard wrote *Cymbeline* *after* *Hamlet* and* Lear*. How dumb is that?

  3. kenkap says:


    I appreciate the reply. We have always agreed about issues like Cymbeline not being a late play. My issue is that stylistic analysis, which many seem pretty good at (conventional stuff, feminine endings, changes over time that looked arced) suggest some consistent movement in the author’s published style that reflects the latter period. This particular piece I have not seen fully addressed and if it were, it would go a long way toward undermining their foundation.

    I believe the argument that there are no new astronomical references post 1604. That tells me something. But this other thing, which you partially deal with I think needs a very detailed exposition.

    Take care


  4. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Hi Ken,

    Well, the “stylometric” argument is a bit different than the “Jacobean vogue” argument, although both of them tend to get mixed up with one another until all we’ve got left is a tissue of assumptions and presumptions. I venture to suggest that an independent statistician, looking at the way that “stylometric” data was compiled and used would probably laugh at it. For one thing, depending on which criteria you use, the plays end up in different orders. Yes, there was perhaps some kind of general trend in certain key diagnostics like feminine endings. But even if you accept something like that it only gives you a relative chronology, not an absolute one. So, if you accept the rationale but then admit — as it seems to me we must, at least after Lynne and I have published our Tempest book — that the play which everyone says was last (using the “stylometric” among other arguments) was written by 1603, what then?

    Of course, this is why Shapiro is writing his next book on the “Jacobean revisions” of the bard. If he has any credibility left after he completes his debating tour for Contested Will, which sure isn’t going the way he planned it.

    Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them.

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