Authorship theory

WORDS  358

authorship theory

For a host of persuasive but commonly disregarded reasons, the Earl of
Oxford has quietly become by far the most compelling man to be found
behind the mask of "Shake-speare." As Orson Welles put it in 1954, "I
think Oxford wrote Shakespeare. If you don't agree, there are some
awful funny coincidences incidences to explain away." Some of these
coincidences are obscure, others are hard to overlook. A 1578 Latin
encomium to Oxford, for example, contains some highly suggestive
praise: "Pallas lies concealed in thy right hand," it says. "Thine eyes
flash fire; Thy countenance shakes spears." Elizabethans knew that
Pallas Athena was known by the sobriquet "the spear-shaker." The hyphen
in Shake-speare's name also was a tip-off: other Elizabethan pseudonyms
include "Cutbert Curry-knave," "Simon Smell-knave," and "Adam
Fouleweather (student in asse-tronomy)."(FN*).
The case for Oxford's authorship hardly rests on hidden clues and
allusions, however. One of the most important new pieces of Oxfordian
evidence centers around a 1570 English Bible, in the "Geneva
translation," once owned and annotated by the Earl of Oxford, Edward de
Vere. In an eight-year study of the de Vere Bible, a University of
Massachusetts doctoral student named Roger Stritmatter has found that
the 430-year-old book is essentially, as he puts it, "Shake-speare's
Bible with the Earl of Oxford's coat of arms on the cover." Stritmatter
discovered that more than a quarter of the 1,066 annotations and marked
passages in the de Vere Bible appear in Shake-speare. The parallels
range from the thematic--sharing a motif, idea, or trope--to the
verbal--using names, phrases, or wordings that suggest a specific
In his research, Stritmatter pioneered a stylistic-fingerprinting
technique that involves isolating an author's most prominent biblical
allusions--those that appear four or more times in the author's canon.
After compiling a list of such "diagnostic verses" for the writings of
Shake-speare and three of his most celebrated literary
contemporaries--Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and Edmund
Spenser--Stritmatter undertook a comparative study to discern how
meaningful the de Vere Bible evidence was. He found that each author's
favorite biblical allusions composed a unique and idiosyncratic set and
could thus be marshaled to distinguish one author from another.
Stritmatter then compared each set of "diagnostics" to the marked
passages in ...

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