Tempests again

“I freeze and burn, love is bitter and sweet,
my sighs are tempests and my tears are floods,
I am in ecstasy and agony,
I am possessed by memories of her and
I am in exile from myself.” 

Francesco Petrarca*

Tempest metaphors are a favourite amongst poets and always have been. It's so easy to associate Olympian raging storms with chthonic emotional turmoil. Shakespeare's storm on the heath in King Lear is possibly the closest confrontation between elemental nature and primordial humanity. Storms on heaths, however barren, are different from storms at sea.

Wracke and Redemption

Dating William STRACHEY’S ‘A TRUE REPORTORY OF THE WRACKE AND REDEMPTION OF SIR THOMAS GATES’:
A comparative textual study

In their article published in the September 2007, Review of English Studies, Roger Stritmatter and Lynne Kositsky claim that a letter written by William Strachey drew on several sources published after its putative composition date of 15 July 1610, and was completed at least 2 years later, too late to be used by Shakespeare as a source for The Tempest. But a close textual comparison between the letter, the published sources and other contemporary documents, including a relatively newly discovered draft of the Strachey letter, demonstrates the primacy of Strachey’s letter and confirms its use as a source in the Virginia Company tract published in November 1610, therefore preserving its accessibility as a source for Shakespeare.


For their kind suggestions during the writing of this article, I thank Jacqueline Foertsch, David Kathman, Lynne Kositsky, Irvin Matus, Tom Veal and especially Alden T. Vaughan.

The Review of English Studies, New Series © The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press 2009; all rights reserved doi:10.1093/res/hgp107


In the summer of 1609, the Virginia Company of London sent nine ships to re-supply its fledging hard-luck Jamestown colony in Virginia. The fleet ran into a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic and the flagship Sea Venture, carrying the colony's new governor, Sir Thomas Gates, became separated from the fleet and was presumed lost by those who weathered the storm and made it to Virginia. But Gates and all 150 passengers and crew members had actually been shipwrecked on the uninhabited island of Bermuda.

During the next ten months they managed not only to survive, but also to build two new vessels and complete the journey to Virginia. When they finally arrived at Jamestown in May 1610, they found the colony in total collapse, suffering from famine and Indian attacks that had reduced the 600 colonists to fewer than 70. Gates ordered the surviving colonists into the ships to sail home. However, they met with a new supply fleet before clearing the Chesapeake Bay, and so they turned back to renew the ultimately successful colony. The survival and escape to safety of Gates' colonists and the deliverance of the Jamestown colony galvanised London when the news reached England in September 1610.

Devices and Desires

“We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.”

The Book of Common Prayer

In the spring of 1579, Gilbert Talbot wrote his father, the Earl of Shrewsbury: “It is but vain to trouble your Lordship with such shows as were showed before Her Majesty this Shrovetide at night. The chiefest was a device presented by the persons of the Earl of Oxford, the Earl of Surrey, the Lords Thomas Howard and Windsor. The device was prettier than it happened to have been performed; but the best of it, and I think the best liked, was two rich jewels which were presented to Her Majesty by the two Earls.”

Not exactly a rave review: Talbot thought it a pretty conceit which the performers failed to carry off. He says nothing of speeches nor speakers, nothing of the storyline, stage effects, music, dance, nor finery. Nothing dazzled the beholders but the jewels: the stars of the show were lumps of corundum.

Dating The Tempest

by David Kathman

Introduction

Though Oxfordians consistently try to deny it, one of the biggest problems for their theory is The Tempest, which can be dated with virtual certainty as having been written between late 1610 and mid-to-late 1611, six to seven years after the death of the Earl of Oxford in 1604. J. Thomas Looney, the originator of the Oxford theory, accepted this dating (one of the few times sense overcame him in the writing of Shakespeare Identified) and thus denigrated the play mercilessly in an attempt to show that it was not written by "Shakespeare" (i.e. Oxford). Later Oxfordians have looked coolly upon this subtraction from the canon, and have tried to show that the play could have been written earlier than 1604; they have done this to their own satisfaction, and so consider the issue more or less closed. However, the issue is anything but closed; all Oxfordian attempts I am aware of to date the play before 1604 (and I think I've looked at the most elaborate, including those of Charlton Ogburn and Ruth Loyd Miller) are in fact astonishingly flimsy, and fail completely to confront the overwhelming evidence that in writing The Tempest, Shakespeare made extensive use of narratives describing the wreck and redemption of the ship the "Sea-Venture" in Bermuda in 1609, and the events which ensued when the crew made it safely ashore. Oxfordian writings tend to misrepresent the facts on this issue rather blatantly; I aim here to set the record straight, and (I hope) convince the reader that the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford could not have written The Tempest.

Redating the Tempest 2.

An Anti-Stratfordian Tour de Farce

Although an intensely irritating waste of paper, despite appearances, there is a purpose in this type of publication.

Books like these are published to be reviewed here. To be cited in internet discussion. When they find themselves unable to explain why The Tempest is associated with Hallowmas rather than Shrovetide, these books provide Oxfordians with an out. "Have you read my book on The Tempest" they will say. Or "Have you read Stritmatter and Kositsky's book on The Tempest?" It's usually said with a patronising snort, implying both that the matter has been dealt with definitively and whoever they are arguing with is poorly read on the subject.

In other words, the book is intended to be cited for what it set out to achieve, rather than what it actually says.

It actually says very little.

Redating The Tempest 1.

I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll b-b-b-blow your house in!

On the Date, Sources and Design of Shakespeare's The Tempest

Roger A. Stritmatter & Lynne Kositsky

 

This book is not about The Tempest.  Not a word of it.  It’s all about Stritmatter and Kositsky’s desperate need to claim the great prize of its authorship for the god of their idolatry:   a tragic, unacknowledged genius whose apotheosis their book will bring about.  His name?  Roger Stritmatter, Lord of Coppin.  

Oops!   Sorry.  Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.

Whose name is demurely absent from their text, save once.  Not in their own words but in Gail Kern Paster’s:  which are by far the best thing in the book:

For well-schooled professionals ... the authorship question ranks as bardolatry inverted, bardolatry for paranoids, with one object of false worship (Shakespeare) replaced by another (Marlowe, Bacon, Edward de Vere). To ask me about the authorship question, as I’ve remarked on more than one occasion, is like asking a paleontologist to debate a creationist’s account of the fossil record.... For much worse than professional disclaimers of interest in Shakespeare’s life is the ugly social denial at the heart of the Oxfordian pursuit ... a ferociously snobbish and ultimately anachronistic celebration of birthright privilege.