Saturday, November 22, 2014

How Shakespeare Spent the Day

"So much for Bardolatry!" - G.B. Shaw
If I were to start this post by stating, Look ... I'm not Anti-Stratfordian ... it sounds like when David Cross once began a stand-up routine lamenting, Look ... I don't hate children ...

But I do not like the term Anti-Stratfordian for the same reason I do not like the word Atheist. That's your word to describe me, and you cannot accurately nor fairly define a sentient being by what it does not believe. You wouldn't call someone who is Jewish Anti-Christian so you should not call someone who has no spiritual belief a non-believer. It's like calling someone who doesn't believe in vampires as being anti-vampire. 

What I don't believe doesn't concern me. It certainly shouldn't define me.

I believe Shakespeare wrote his plays, but that also does not make me Pro-Stratfordian. I am agnostic on the subject of William Shakespeare, the man. There have been so many lies - pretty lies, but outright falsehoods, nonetheless - that it is impossible to read any historical account of him without sighing.

I do not know how I acquired a copy of Ivor Brown's How Shakespeare Spent the Day (1963) but it has been on my shelf for some time. It has taken about six months to read it, on and off, because I got bogged down at the end. It was a great resource material for The Globe because it describes in detail how they ran a theater, they meaning Burbage and Henslowe and yes, Shakespeare. The real nuts and bolts, or more accurately, spindles and pegs, that held the work of theater together.

But even as Brown strives for accuracy, even he cannot help himself but speculates at length about the final year, spending a great deal of time lauding (his idea of) Shakespeare, a retired playwright who humbles himself, making repeated (if undocumented) visits to London in his final years, to improve upon the works of lesser poets like Fletcher and Middleton, adding his hand to elevate works like Pericles or Henry VIII or Timon of Athens.

Does it not make more sense that these were first unfinished works by WS, which had been abandoned for one reason or another (perhaps because they suck) only to be taken up and filled out by others for the purpose of production by a company that needed new works to maintain relevance?


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