In the course of a couple of months’ highly enjoyable immersion in the Shakespeare authorship question, I have mentioned it to various people, including teaching colleagues, both literature and Theory of Knowledge teachers. The most common response I get is “Does it matter?”
Shakespeare, we must be silent in thy praise! (Anonymous, 1640)
Some anti-Stratfordians (those who don’t believe that the Stratford man was Shakespeare) quote this line from an anonymous 1640 poem entitled ‘Wit’s Recreations’ as evidence that there was a conspiracy of silence around the identity of the author. Maybe there was. But read on…
How do text and context interact?
How does knowledge of context affect interpretation of text?
How does close analysis of text affect knowledge of context?
Gabriel Harvey in an address to Lord Oxford, encouraging him to forsake the pen for the sword –
VULTUS TELA VIBRAT – “Your countenance shakes spears” (1572)
Make but my name thy love, and love that still
And then thou lov’st me, for my name is ‘Will’.
It’s always entertaining to watch an establishment intellectual in a huff, muttering hackneyed propaganda tropes over his shoulder as he sidles away from the question, desperately trying to shut down a losing debate without losing face. How can it not be funny to see someone getting frustrated with their own inability to control what other people think?
… Reader, looke
Not on his picture, but his Booke
(Ben Johnson, First Folio, ‘To The Reader’.