Your RDA of Irony

Who Wasn’t the Real Shakespeare?

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare!  Instead of blowing out candles, however, the fashion is to try snuffing out his reputation.

Among the cultural arbiters of Western Civilization, Shakespeare’s birthday is now celebrated by denouncing him as merely the front for an aristocratic, university-educated but evidently shy author. (Haven’t you noticed how shy the New York Times’ writers are?) The graduates of Real Cambridge and Nouveau Cambridge insist that a mere yeoman would be incapable of such creativity.

Yet, I cannot imagine that the Earl of Oxford, Christopher Marlowe or Francis Bacon would want to claim credit for “Titus Andronicus.”  Who would?  And all three parts of “Henry VI” do not add up to one good play.   The trilogy is a mess, a slapdash concoction of convoluted history and overripe melodrama. Its plot is virtually impenetrable. There are moments of great theater and traces of brilliant language but they merely glint in the din and confusion of these chaotic plays.

These plays clearly are not the works of a polished aristocrat. On the contrary, they are the early works of a very undisciplined writer who is eager to ingratiate himself to the public. True, these plays were popular, perhaps for the same reasons that movies about mad slashers and flatulence jokes are popular today.

By the time that Shakespeare wrote “Richard III”, he had developed some discipline. The play may still be an overripe melodrama but it is well-done.  If you believe in creative evolution, it is possible that the perpetrator of “Titus Andronicus” would eventually write “Hamlet” and “The Tempest.” 

But who am I am to disagree with “The New York Times”?  Let me concede by offering this possible solution for the real identity of William Shakespeare.  I call it the legend of the lost English class at the University of Chicago.

A graduate seminar, led by teaching assistant Harry Sheinlach, was situated over the nuclear reactor when the first chain reaction occurred. Years passed before anyone noticed four English majors were missing. We can surmised that they were transported back to 16th century England. You’d think that the intrusion of five time-travelers from the 20th century would have had revolutionary effects on Elizabethan science and technology. However, being English majors, they didn’t know any science. There was a case of a man who proposed the replacement of codpieces with two strips of interlocking metal teeth; of course, he was publicly burned.

The three survivors– Sheinlach, Bertha Krubowski and Vince Pucci–remained discreet and made a living writing plays. Sheinlach, a New York boy, was the primary author of The Merchant of Venice; it is obvious that the play’s Jessica is based on a 20th century JAP who refused to go out with Harry. Sheinlach also wrote a play based about the street gangs of his old neighborhood; in a way, “West Side Story” does predate “Romeo and Juliet”. Bertha wrote most of the romances and chose all the names of the female characters; Portia, Olivia and Rosamund were evidently Bertha’s way of compensating. Vince, embarrassed about being a 4-F in World War II, wrote “Titus Andronicus” and contributed all of the battles and murders in the plays. It should be noted that Vince was “the Shakespeare” who had the affair with the Earl of Southampton; now, you know why he was 4-F. William Shakespeare was the group’s front and business manager.

  1. zalman says:

    I’d like take this moment to restate my “silent co-author(s)” theory regarding De Vere (and others to whom some evidence points as “the” real author). Shakespeare had the writing ability and theater connections. De Vere had the background, a few original ideas based on his life and travels, and a love for literature. I have no theories as to why De Vere would chose to keep his co-authorship secret, but it’s far more plausible than his single-handedly producing a score of masterpieces (many of them posthumously) without anyone knowing.

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