Shakespeare Saturday: What the What?

Ok, so something weird was reported by NPR this week. I say weird because it’s just… It’s all. I mean it’s not necessarily wrong, but it’s scholarly speculation that shouldn’t be acted upon with such permanence. ESPECIALLY when other scholars are arguing completely opposing viewpoints. That means it’s not fact. You can’t prove it one way or the other. Ugh. Ok so listen. Shakespeare collaborated with other writers. This is known. But, but, but seriously… WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING?

Maybe I should slow down and explain this outburst. On Monday NPR reported that the Oxford University Press would be making some changes to its new edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare. This change? Oh, you know just crediting Christopher Marlowe as a co-author on three of Shakespeare’s plays. Wait, WHAT? And the research this change is based on just sounds so shoddy I can’t figure out why it’s being given any credit. Basically a bunch of scholars analyzed the prose contained in the Henry VI trilogy and decided that some of the words and style should be attributed to Kit Marlowe… because people NEVER use the same words or imitate style in writing *SARCASM*. Are you freaking serious Oxford Press??? 

Look, Shakespeare was known to have collaborated on his work. This, I am willing to cede. Most authors collaborate in one way or another. And it’s particularly likely that he would have collaborated and borrowed while working on his early works. Works such as, oh, I don’t know, the Henry VI trilogy. As an actor/playwright just starting out in a city that loved Kit Marlowe wouldn’t it make sense that young Bill Shakespeare would model his work after the superstar? 

Yes, that would make sense, A. You’ve got some great critical thinking/common sense skills. 

Thank you.

But some Shakespearean scholars just don’t want to let the matter of authorship live and let live because: “wouldn’t it be simply amazing if I figured out once and for all the truth about Shakespeare? I’d get published and funded and maybe a Nobel prize and daddy’s approval…” No, ye olde Shakespeare scholars of little faith and misplaced ambition. There’s a reason these plays survived 400 f**king years with one man’s name attached to them. How could an entire nation forget or collectively misremember the name of one of their most prolific playwrights? Stop trying to pretend he didn’t exist or wasn’t capable of writing all those plays or whatever your damn excuse is because there’s plenty of proof that the man existed and very little proof that definitively points to the conspiracy that there’s some kind of historical gaslighting that’s fooled the entire English-speaking world.

So to quote Forrest Gump: that’s all I have to say about that. Rant over. I promise.

If you’d like to read NPR’s report check out the link below…

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