Shakespeare's Authorship and Questions of Evidence

Shakespeare's Authorship and Questions of Evidence

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Summary of Shakespeare's Authorship and Questions of Evidence

Scholar Diana Price in her article, "Shakespeare's Authorship and Questions of Evidence" takes an independent, serious and thought provoking role in investigating the answer to a question of over 400 years: Was Shakespeare of Stratford really responsible for writing all those stories and sonnets?

Was it Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Edward Dyer, the earl of Derby, and of all most suspected by the anti-stratfordians' Edward de Vere (the 17th earl of Oxford)?

Price believes that perhaps were approaching this problem with the wrong question. Asking whether or not Shakespeare was the author might be framed incorrectly as a result of a false dichotomy set-up by ardent Oxford scholars. Rather, our author believes the more precise question should be asked as, "Was it Shakespeare or was it Oxford?" Price states, "Arguing an alternative case for a candidate who may or may not be the right one is ultimately an exercise in futility, because it does not first require that Shakespeare's literary biography be rejected on the strength of the evidence." It is through this false dichotomy that orthodox scholars are essentially off the hook. These orthodox supporters criticize the differences in the incidental case for the contender, while not exploring the same arguments thrown against the incumbents. This is because the authorship question is never a true way to attain objective.

But the question still begs for an answer because as Price states, "neither side can produce arguments or documents that can satisfy a skeptic."

While this question is important, the article shows just how intricate tracing a piece of literature back to an author can be. For instance, she states that wealthy men who enjoyed authoring could write for pleasure but if he sold his plays to companies, he would be perceived as a rogue capitalist. To avoid this mess, writers could sell his plays to a middleman under a false name or as a condition of anonymity. The second alternative to the previous option would be to sell a piece of work to a Battillus, who would take ownership and receive any accompanying accolades. It through the cultural pressures which makes it incredibly difficult to research and come up with a definitive author to not only Shakespeare's work but other writers' of his time.

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Price also shows us evidence that is used by scholars to support Shakespeare's authorship; while, she also concisely points out how that same evidence could discredit Shakespeare as the author.

This rather lengthy article spans much more than what I have briefly discussed here. Price not only asks us to look at the evidence supporting for or against Shakespeare's authorship but also to understand how we ask that very question.

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