The Magic Man in the Shakespeare Authorship Question

Posted By on March 26, 2018

Paul Gallico’s novel, The Magic Man, imagines a character who knows actual magic in a world where everyone else is just doing tricks out of books.  They are masters of the sleight-of-hand, and he is the one in touch with the divine powers of actually performing magic that works because it is real.

For Stratfordians, Shakespeare is a kind of magic man in the sense that none of the usual rules are expected to apply to him. We don’t really need evidence for his education, because he lived in Stratford when there was a school there and his father was an alderman, so he probably attended, even if we don’t have the proof for it (he must have gone to grammar school, after all, to write the plays). He understood at a profound philosophical level the conflict between law and equity in English jurisprudence but never went to college, let alone to the Inns of Court to study either law or philosophy.  Music, linguistics, and the rest he probably inherited for all we know. The magic man, indeed – he makes something out of nothing.

But for post-Stratfordians — Oxfordian or otherwise — Shakespeare is also a magic man, because he’s the one who pulled off the stunt, with a little help from Jonson et al. — he disappeared successfully for four hundred years, erasing his tracks as he went. He left only the message of his works and letters, which he knew full well would, more seriously considered, disclose him to the world.

So, yes, Shakespeare is the magic man in this story, whichever way you look at it. I guess that means that we get to chose what kind of magic man we prefer.

What kind of a magic man do you see in this story?

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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