Friday, December 17, 2004

More Shakespeare Controversy

This issue is important because it goes to the heart of what the ULA's rebellion is about: overthrowing a clueless literary aristocracy which wants to isolate literature from ordinary people.

When one reads the writings of the leading "hoax" proponents over the years, one sees that snobbery plays a crucial role in their thinking-- to the point of calling the Stratford man "a dummy," "a drunkard from Warwickshire," and the like.

There is no evidence for deVere. None. Nada. It's all speculation; a castle of conjecture. Their entire case ultimately comes down to one matter: Differences in spelling of the Shakespeare name. It's quite a flimsy foundation-- like crossing a quicksand bog on a board of thin plywood.

IF spelling was consistent, as it is today, one might think that the ambitious "Shaksper" changed his name slightly when he went to London, to be more gentlemanly. But even this wasn't the case.

Check actual records, and you'll see that the actor's name, in Stratford legal documents, was spelled various ways-- INCLUDING "Shakespeare," in Stratford. As was his father's, incidentally. In London, his name was also spelled various ways, from Shakesper to Shaxberd to Shakespeare. The Stratford man's will is overrun with misspellings-- Shakespeare's name spelled a couple different ways. (The will, incidentally, has a couple bequests to the same London actor friends of his who are part of the First Folio's dedications to Shakespeare. The London-Stratford connection is well proved.)

What's the explanation about the spellings? The answer lies in not seeing Shakespeare's world through our own eyes. Burbage, Hemings, and other parties to the acting company ALSO had their names spelled various ways. Were they also fakes?

Elizabethan England was in the midst of change from an oral culture to a written one. It's clear, when looking at Elizabethan documents, including those produced by lawyers, that spelling was done by ear-- individuals spelling the way the words to them sounded. (Would this be considered phonetic spelling?) It was the case not just with Shakespeare, but everybody.

Of course! This makes perfect sense-- and accounts, in part, for Shakespeare's genius. It's the very reason that his words come alive when they're spoken aloud. It's how his mind operated when he created his works. They were intended to be heard by the ear, not read by the eye. This is the way their culture operated.

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