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Prefiguring genius

A key part of the Oxfordian's theory is that the work which we know was circulated and published in his name, and is therefore indisputably his own, is compatible with the work of Shakespeare. It is essential to maintain this strand of argument as, however many aliases they create for the playwright, the two bodies of poetical work have to be made to fit the same man.

 "our case will either stand or fall" as readers are convinced that De Vere's poetry does in fact "contain the natural seed and clear promise" of Shakespeare's verse ..." Thomas Looney

Edward de Vere

Since it is impossible, however, to argue that Oxford’s poetry was written by the mature artist we know as Shakespeare, that should be game over. Looney's followers, however, are not willing to give up just because Looney's centre will not hold.

There are two more recent arguments which attempt to cover the gap in quality.

The first is the claim that the work we know as Oxford’s represents his juvenilia. They will often claim that it can be seen ‘anticipating’ the later, mature genius. Looney claims he can 'see Shakespeare's genius' in the wealth of figurative language' in Oxford's work though many of the passages he uses to illustrate his point contain no figures of speech.  The real difficulty, however, is explaining how someone can be still producing juvenilia at the age of 27, or even 38 as Oxford’s work can be tied to real events to which real dates can be attached.

Since no poet really wants juvenilia in the public domain, Oxford would also be unique as the poet who published only juvenilia.

The second argument is that Oxford published his best work under the auspices of a front man, ‘William Shakespeare’. This would be an odd way to earn respect and an even odder way to earn money.

Oxford published, encouraged others to publish; aristocrats competed to publish: there can be no 'stigma of print' issues with poetry. Some Oxfordians therefore support the argument for pseudonymous publication by claiming that he continued to publish bad work under the Earl’s name to prevent his identity becoming associated with the much better work published under Shakespeare’s name. Further argument along these lines often descends into the deepest farce.

There are many more such arguments aimed a clouding the issue of why, in a debate which began with supposed stylistic similarities, there is such a gulf in quality between the work of Oxford and Shakespeare. Some of these arguments will feature elsewhere, but none will explain why Oxford, a poor writer and Shakespeare, with a fighting claim to be the best writer ever, could possibly have been the same man. 

Here is a list of the titles of Oxford's known poetry. There are some disputed attributions (naturally!) which are omitted. Nevertheless, in as far as one is able to judge anything from such a short list, there is a noticeable progression which would be hard to ascribe to an infant prodigy. And even harder to ascribe to a man who has enjoyed a run of unbroken success throughout his professional life.



What Cunning can Express.




Fortune and Love.

Labour and its Reward

Loss of Good Name.

Revenge of Wrong.

Love and Antagonism.

The Forsaken Man.

“I am not as I seem to be.”

Care and Disappointment.

“Love is a Discord.”

Love and Wit.

Woman’s Changeableness.


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