Malice in Wonderland
Here's the creek but where's the paddle? Extemporising on play-broking is one thing, challenging the existence of Fat Marian Hackett is another, but Barber eventually has to get down to the business of handling the hard evidence. Having no evidence to substantiate the claims they advance, (and we do mean none whatsoever), the task of making the hard evidence for Shakespeare's authorhship disappear is usually approached by asserting the existence of problems and difficulties with the exhibits. These Looking Glass problems are usually accompanied, as here, with claims that Looking Glass "orthodox" scholars "acknowledge" these Looking Glass doubts. Surprisingly, these mysterious scholars prefer to remain puzzled and leave the issues unresolved. It's always left to doubters and sceptics to explain.
Here's The White Rabbit at the start of Week 3, smoke generators on full, hoping that any following neutrals are now far enough away from the coast of reality to have lost sight of it entirely.
The monument's Latin inscription and the poem are both rather puzzling in different ways - orthodox scholars have found very little to say about them, other than one or two admitting that they are 'enigmatic', whereas non-Stratfordians have discovered within them seemingly endless codes and riddles with multiple and conflicting 'answers'
If this isn't puzzling enough, the earliest engravings of the funerary monument look nothing like the one we currently know and it has long been theorized that the monument was substantially altered from its original state
Is the monument that is present today substantially the same as the one that was erected sometime before 1623? Many non-Stratfordians, and even one or two orthodox scholars, argue otherwise. The problem lies with the very first engraving of the monument, published in William Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire in 1656.
There is nothing mysterious about Shakespeare's Monument. It's a provincial funerary half-effigy in a reasonably large church in a large town at a great crossroads. Tom Reedy toured the area in 2014 and photographed dozens of similar busts, in similar garb, in similar churches with similar proportions, similar paint and similar accoutrements. No those acanthus capitals do not look like monkeys. Yes. That's a cushion. It's cushion here in Holy Trinity Church, a cushion in Dugdale's notebook and it's always been a cushion. The same cushion. If you have a big screen, click on the thumbnails below for a close up view.
Let's be clear. We like being clear. On this site, we have invested a reasonable amount of time looking at the monument. We've visited the sites, taken pictures with decent equipment (Ros has even used some—we're happy) and Tom Reedy, of this parish, has published an account of his research in Shakespeare Quarterly which also appears here.
And unlike the unnamed but puzzled orthodox scholars we are absolutely convinced that there is nothing suggestive, suspicious, or unusual about the monument. It has not been altered and Dugdale's sketches are totally consistent with the rest of his work. We're even reasonably certain when it comes to who paid for it and who paid Dugdale £5 to get his sketch published as an engraving in his book (the Shakespeare family).
Doubt about the monument, Dugdale's sketches, the inscription and the tomb is no more than smoke and mirrors created by doubters to keep their myths and fictions alive. No alterations, no woolsacks, no monkeys, no codes, no hints, no secrets, no hidden authors. No mysteries.
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More close examination. And it reveals that Dugdale had no doubts about Shakespeare's identity. He labels his drawing "Shakespeare the poet" reproduces the whole of Basse's poem (turning it into personal testimony by Barber's own definition). He draws all his figures with elongated necks and arms and heads that are almost half the size of accurate proportions. The images we see above are transcriptions of lost originals, laid out on pages ruled up with a pencil and then inked carefully on the pencil outline. You can see his struggles in our macro images photographed at Merevale where they are still in his collection, curated by his family.
Dugdale's house in Warwickshire. The family now live, with his archive, at Merevale a few miles away.
While she features a couple of the images from Tom Reedy's essay, published in Shakespeare Quarterly and reproduced with all necessary persmissions on this site, Barber doesn't trouble herself to mention the conclusions or provide a link. So here it is. Reedy concludes:
The logical implications of the visual and historical evidence presented are clear: unless one is prepared to argue that all these monuments have been substantially altered since Dugdale first depicted them—an argument without credibility—Shakespeare’s Stratford monument appears today substantially the same as when Dugdale sketched it in 1649, and the discrepancies between it and his depiction are due to the limitations of his artistic ability. A few years after Shakespeare’s burial, a monument was erected near his grave to honor his memory, a monument in all essential features identical to that which stands today.
And with that, the oxygen supply to the arguments casting doubt on its purpose is cut off. Any respectable academic review of authorhsip doubt should join Reedy in his conclusions. Any respectable MOOC should condemn the nonsense that doubters spout about the monument. Barber's MOOC is not respectable.
Other on point comments about the monument
"When WS died no one in the literary world batted an eyelid, let alone wrote an elegy – yet Beaumont, a fellow playwright, less well known, who died 6 weeks before, sparked sorrow and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Now that is strange."
Why does this nonsense keep being repeated? We have multiple manuscript copies of Basse's eulogy that circulated widely after Shakespeare's death. How many manuscript copies of eulogies to other playwrights do we have? The first printed notice we have of Beaumont's death was in 1620 in the very same poem that is the first printed notice we have of Shakespeare's death. Beaumont died at the peak of his career, very young, and in London. The first printed eulogy for him appeared 13 yeaars after he died, yet nobody goes around saying "nobody batted an eyelid when he died." Shakespeare was retired, lived 100 miles (4-5 day journey) away from London, and was in the ground before the news had time to get there.
The assertion that hyphens in names indicated that they were "nearly always assumed names" sounds like a strong belief, something that was warned against earlier in the course as possibly being the result of confirmation bias. The best way to make progress on this issue is to look to the historical evidence and be open to alternative views. My understanding up to now has been that that claim about the hyphens first appeared in the late 19th century and was made by people who wanted Kit Marlowe to be given credit for writing Shakespeare's plays. What is needed is an earlier citation from the record showing that people in early modern England actually believed that hyphens meant that. I agree, but an objective of the course is to promote rational thought. The question about hyphens seems an appropriate way to explore that. Is the belief rational? Knowing if there is evidence that supports that belief, or if the belief stands alone without any support other than that some people believe it, seems to be in line with course objectives.
The issue is not whether there was a profession of “play broker.” It’s whether it was a viable role economically. A broker role is economically viable if it fills an economic need. Brokers serve to bring buyers and sellers together. A broker is paid a fee to arrange a transaction; some brokers are principals if they are buying and selling in their own right rather than as an agent of another. But the role of broker is not always economically viable in all markets. In a market with a small number of buyers and a small number of sellers, there may not be any room for a broker middle-man. Why would a buyer pay an extra payment to a broker if he or she had a direct relationship with the seller?.