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"Art Made Tongue-tied By Authority?": The Shakespeare Authorship Question
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 15 credits / 22,5 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The essay presents the scholarly controversy over the correct attribution of the works by “Shakespeare”. The main alternative author is Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford. 16th century conventions allowed noblemen to write poetry or drama only for private circulation. To appear in print, such works had to be anonymous or under pseudonym. Overtly writing for public theatre, a profitable business, would have been a degrading conduct. Oxford’s contemporary fame as an author is little matched by known works. Great gaps in relevant sources indicate that documents concerning not only his person and authorship but also the life of Shakspere from Stratford, the alleged author, have been deliberately eliminated in order to transfer the authorship, for which the political authority of the Elizabethan and Jacobean autocratic society had motive and resources enough. A restored identity would imply radical redating of plays and poems.

                      To what extent literature is autobiographical, or was in that age, and whether restoring a lost identity from written works is legitimate at all, are basic issues of the debate, always implying tradition without real proof versus circumstantial evidence. As such arguments are incompatible, both sides have incessantly missed their targets. The historical conditions for the sequence of events that created the fiction, and its main steps, are related. Oxford will be in focus, since most old and new evidence for making a case has reference to him. The views of the two parties on different points are presented by continual quoting from representative recent works by Shakespeare scholars, where the often scornful tone of the debate still echoes. It is claimed that the urge for concrete results will make the opinion veer to the side that proves productive and eventually can create a new coherent picture, but better communication between the parties’ scholars is called for.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 27 p.
Keyword [en]
Elizabethan literature; Shakespeare, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, Authorship attribution
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-78261OAI: diva2:536381
Humanities, Theology
Literary Degree Project
Available from: 2012-12-13 Created: 2012-06-21 Last updated: 2012-12-13Bibliographically approved

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