What are you looking for?

Posted By on February 5, 2013

Now, don’t answer, “my OED,” or I will kick you out of here for already knowing too much.

I was wending my way wondering about this question while trying to consider the point of view, so prevalent on the internet these days, that Shakespeare just wasn’t really that bright and didn’t really know much about languages, little Latin and less Greek, and so forth, 71 lost books, not 7000, you know its really not too much of a stretch….is it?

Like I said, a lot of people really have these fears. To them, if you can’t fit the bard’s library onto an MP4, then he didn’t need it. I can’t help but think how sad that is.

It is not that Shakespeare is too shallow but that his exegetes need him to be. In the process they miss not only the fact of the implications of their own choices – to see what is trite and conventional about the Bard at the expense of deeper comprehension – but they are losing out entirely on the grander and more complex view of European history and cultural practices in the 16th century.

I guess this is my way of trying to say that I’ve just come to the conclusion that Shakespeare’s own contemporaries so cleverly told us in wholly unequivocal ways, who Shakespeare really was. ┬áBut it is impossible to see this, or overhear the literary “conversation” of the 1590s that gave rise to the modern myth of the Bard, if we don’t understand how Elizabethans really experienced their world. Anonymous is an excellent first start, but its just the first step…..

The second step is to take a deep breath and repeat after me:

Nemo Arithmeticae ignarus hic ingrediatur: Let none enter here, that is ignorant in arithmeticke.

Quoth Francis Meres, Master of Arts in both Universities.

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.


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In "From Crackpot to Mainstream"Keir Cutler, PhD, takes down the recent Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (OUP, 2013)

Criticism of Cutler's "Is Shakespeare Dead?": "A magnificently witty performance!" (Winnipeg Sun). "Highly entertaining and engrossing!" (EYE Weekly). "Is Shakespeare Dead? marshals startling facts into an elegant and often tenacious argument that floats on a current of delicious irony" (Montreal Gazette).