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Our Revels Now are Ended

Reader comment on item: The "October Surprise" Theory
in response to reader comment: Why such resistance?

Submitted by John Blake (United States), Apr 5, 2007 at 18:39

Conspiracists in general, and paranoid political ones from LaRouche on the right to Sick on the left, rely on the adage that one "cannot prove a negative." Who says Invisible Flying Rabbits don't work their wicked wills-- prove me wrong, though naive exemplar of credulous humanity (and iredeemably bourgeois at that).

Nay... what disturbs us unduly is reference to an illiterate Stratford wool-factor as the Bard. From Mark Twain to Otto von Bismarck to Sigmund Freud, no-one considers the Shakespeare controversy a conspiracy. Only in the early 1920s was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, fingered as the 95% probable author of these works: Autobiographical to the nth degree, precise chronological fit, erudite and aristocratic to the core. No other putative candidate comes even close.

A protege of Elizabeth's Lord Chancellor, William Burghley (acknowledged model for Polonius in Hamlet, for lampooning whom any commoner would have suffered savage retribution), de Vere translated Ovid at age ten, matriculated Oxford and Cambridge, apprenticed at London's Inns of Court... jousted famously, travelled throughout Italy (a third of Shakespeare's canon reflects detailed street-knowledge unavailable even in translation before 1750), served diplomatically and militarily, obtained 1,000 pounds per year ($250,000 equivalent) to propagandize Elizabeth's Tudor ancestry in absence of an heir.

An extravagant wastrel, de Vere sold off his estates, virtually abandoned his first wife. An incorrigible feudalist, withal an inveterate Court gossip ("Merry Wives" is a prime instance) he knew better than to risk the Tower for slandering his Virgin Queen. Read any of his sonnets, finally Prospero's laments, you will find a tormented genius craving recognition but obsessed with noble anonymity .

Of course, all London knew the Bard's identity-- de Vere's symbol was Athena, the Spear Shaker, he "bore the canopy" in Elizabeth's royal processions, and so on. It still does seem unfair that one so blessed should prove the heir of Aeschuylus, Euripedes, and Sophocles. Even today, academic snobs cannot accommodate such a bizarre circumstance; but by (say) 2050, accumulated biographical, textual, all manner of internal and other evidence will be well-nigh irrefutable.

De Vere died in 1602, bequeathing libraries of correspondence and annotated volumes-- but past "The Tempest", nothing. Stratford croaked twelve years later, leaving three X-mark testimonials to immortal fame.

No conspiracy, for even Burghley concurred that de Vere --his son-in-law-- illuminated the Queen's reign. But let's just say, that if the greatest literary figure in all post-Classical Western history is so easily misconstrued by dedicated scholars over centuries, the temptation for diseased ideologues like LaRouche and Sick in political contexts is all but irresistible.

Submitting....

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