Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shakespeare at Large

This actually happened.

This morning, a green subaru Forester practically ran me off the road.

That's not the unusual part (as anyone who's driven in Massachusetts knows). I assumed he was just one of the typical aggressive loonies I encounter during my morning commute. Then, as he passed, I saw his bumper sticker:

A reference to the Shakespeare authorship debate! People like him believe that fancy pants Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, wrote "Shakespeare's" work. All spooked now, I sped up until I was alongside the guy. I got a good look at him: gray hair, flannel shirt, big grin.

I'm not saying that he was hired to run me off the road, or even that he knew I was a Shakespearean. I'm not saying it. Not yet. That's a dirty, dirty game, even for the Oxfordians. Let's hope it's not come down to that.


  1. Oxfordians are Shakespeareans, too! One of Oxford's coats of arms features a lion shaking a spear. Gabriel Harvey wrote of him, "thy will shakes spears!" His nickname among his literary friends was "Will." And during his lifetime, he was referred to as a leading poet and playwright among a group of aristocratic poets who "suffered their work to be published without their own names to it."

    Try our Shake-speare on for size! He's much more fun than the Stratford dullard, whose contemporary record is all grain-dealing, money-lending, neighbor-suing, and a curious lack of any literary paper trail.

    I cannot, however, vouch for our driving skills!


    Michael Dunn

  2. Well, the Oxfordians have wit and sass, I'll give you that!

    And the Harvey quip is great!

  3. OH MY GOD. I applaud your self-restraint, I would definitely have rear-ended him, insurance premiums be damned! For the record, I have always maintained that an Oxford/"Stratford" debate is the only scenario in which I can envision myself in a sort of full on, Jerry Springeresque, hitting-my-opponent-in-the-head-with-a-chair brawl. (Fortunately for my criminal record, such an episode seems unlikely!)

  4. Funny note on the Authorship theories (your story makes me want to share):

    Last semester I visited Mary Baldwin College to check out their Shakespeare Grad Program. I had to drive three days to get up there from here. So, I stayed for several days and sat in on classes. The first was a rhetoric class. When I was introduced to the professor, he asked everyone (all 25 or so students in the class) to tell me who wrote Shakespeare's Plays.

    I got a few Marlowes, an Oxford, the guys who published the folio (whose names escape me at the moment), but also things like Anne Hathaway, Queen Elizabeth and even that it was the Professor in a time machine.

    Aside from one or two of the famous responses appearing two or three times, all of them had a different answer.

    I thought it was a beautiful example of how fruitless the Authorship question really is.