Friday, April 2, 2010
Shakespeare: Authorship Debate & Resoures
I've read and watched some interesting debate/ proposals about the "real" man who penned the plays and sonnets attributed to William Shakespeare. I find this subject quite interesting, but not because I really care too much whether or not Shakespeare was a pen name or the real deal.
Recently, about.com released an article that points to a man named Edward De Vere as the true author behind the Bard's genius. In this article, the former president of the Shakespeare Oxford Society, Matthew Cossolotto, was interviewed and asked why Edward De Vere is the most likely candidate. Here are some of the reasons that he pointed to as proof:
-William Shakespeare of Stratford's death was not mourned by the literati of London
-There is no proof that William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote as much as a letter
-The political climate of the time period made it dangerous for a playwright to speak openly
There are more reasons why there exists this notion of a cover-up conspiracy involving Shakespeare's true identity. But, as I said before, I am not going to wait around for scholars to prove that Shakespeare was a nom de plume for another genius writer. I am going to continue teaching Shakespeare's plays and poems because they are some of the most enduring, brilliant pieces of writing that I've ever read.
When I first started teaching, I exposed my senior students to the issue of the authorship debate. I found that their anger and concern over this issue was counterproductive. Students felt like they had been "duped" by teachers over the years. Why were they reading the work of an imposter? After trying to quell their upset feelings, I can to my own conclusion. I love Shakespeare because I love the words, the characters, the rhythm, the themes, and the problems of his plays. I love getting lost in a script or a performance of a Shakespeare play. Whether or not I actually know the name or the identity of the person who created these amazing works does not matter to me. I think that the authorship debate takes away from the beauty of the work. And, didn't Juliet address this very topic when she said:
Some resources I've used in the classroom when teaching Shakespeare plays/ sonnets:
The Shakespeare Standard
The Folger Shakespeare Library
BardCast: The Shakespeare Podcast
Shakespeare in the City
60 Second Shakespeare
Shakespearean Insult Generator