The Shakespeareologists

In this City Journal essay Dalrymple looks at two authors of Shakespearean scholarship, with one of them claiming to have proven that the bard had no classical education and therefore could not have produced the famous plays with their classical allusions:

But also latent in the question is the incipient conflict between the romantic and classical views of life: that understanding of the world, genius, and wisdom is as much a matter of direct apprehension or instinct as it is of knowledge and learning. Not all the knowledge in existence could have produced Shakespeare, and while the work of most of the erudite is forgotten the moment they die, that of Shakespeare lives on forever. Though Farmer was a man of the Enlightenment, he was therefore also a forerunner of Romanticism. His little book, incidentally, serves to undermine, though not completely to refute, one of the arguments of the anti-Stratfordians (those who deny that Shakespeare, the boy from Stratford, is identical to Shakespeare, the author of the plays) before it became popular with luminaries such as Mark Twain and Sigmund Freud: that only someone with a deep knowledge of the classics could have written Shakespeare’s works, that only someone of high social class could have had such knowledge, and that therefore Shakespeare, the writer of the plays, could not have been Shakespeare, the boy from Stratford.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *