Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hillary Clinton and the Dread Pirate Roberts Theory of Who Wrote Shakespeare

NPG 2035 Called Phineas Pett
Q: You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
A: I’d choose to have one guest for a long dinner: William Shakespeare. I’m curious to see who would show up and what he really wrote.
                                           Interview with Hillary Clinton in NYT Book Review

Did Hillary Clinton just throw her hat into the Shakespeare authorship debate?  Perhaps I'm reading too much into her words, but it sounds very much as if Clinton has serious doubts as to who might show up for her fantasy dinner with William Shakespeare.

So can we add Clinton's name to the list of highly impressive people who have questioned the official story of Who Wrote Shakespeare? Perhaps Clinton, a lawyer, was swayed by Mark Twain's passionate argument that the real author of the works was obviously a lawyer and certainly not the lad from Stratford. Whether Twain was correct or not, it’s fair to say that Twain must have understood Shakespeare on levels unimaginable to the modern-day academic.  And yet so many of today’s scholars, men like Harold Bloom and Stanley Wells, routinely dismiss Twain’s theories as snobbish and absurd. And of course it’s not just Twain who has blasphemed the god of Stratford but a whole parade of like geniuses: Whitman, Chaplin, Coleridge, Dickens, Emerson, Gielgud, Hardy, Holmes, Jacobi, James, Joyce, Rylance, and Welles (the list goes on).  

The debate over the authorship continues to divide itself between academics and artists.  The question over who Shakespeare was may never be answered, but it certainly won’t as long as the Stratford circle continues to shirk the debate.  If the Supreme Court can be split on the issue then certainly it merits academic debate.  I don’t know which side is correct—I sway back and forth—but I do know which side has behaved with a monstrous cowardice that would have appalled both Mercutio and Castiglione.  It’s time, I would suggest, for the Stratfordians to come down off the mountain and engage in a fascinating debate.  

Picking her words carefully, Clinton make a second point about Shakespeare: that she has doubts regarding the authorship of certain plays attributed him.  Perhaps not everything attributed to Shakespeare was written by the author of the great tragedies? This, I should mention, is the central tenet to what this blog calls the Dread Pirate Roberts Theory of Shakespeare.  Readers might recall in The Princess Bride (an extremely Shakespearian comedy) the Dread Pirate Roberts is periodically replaced by a new pirate who takes on the name and reputation of the long-retired original pirate.

Complete interview with Hillary on her reading habits here at the NYT Book Review. 

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