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For me one of the most persuasive arguments in favor of Oxford is one that Oxfordians themselves have not wanted to make or comment upon. It is Joseph Sobron's analysis of the Sonnets in Alias Shakespeare.

The publication of the sonnets is interesting in and of itself. It seems clear that they were published without permission and dedicated to the deceased poet. ("Shakespeare's Sonnets" not "Sonnets by Shakespeare" and "Our Ever-Living Poet". Some have claimed they can find no instance of 'ever living' used to describe a 'still living' person - which would be significant considering Oxford was dead by 1606 when it was published, while WIll was alive another 10 years.)

Oxfordians are all agreement with that. They also agree that the idea that the sonnets seem to comment on the poet's private life and feelings. Soborn however suggests that the majority of the poems where written by the older Oxford, first to persuade the young man to accept an arranged marriage to his daughter, and then as love poems to the young man, filled with longing and concern about shaming him if their association became known.

Once viewed through this prism, the sonnets make sense. The narrative they indirectly tell is clear. They obtain specificity and emotional weight. But many Oxfordians seem to have trouble coming to grips with the idea that their man was bi-sexual, or at least in love with a young nobleman who was the very image of the youthful glory that Oxford squandered.

It's funny - Oxfordians have no trouble admitting that he was probably a drunk, that he betrayed co-conspirators, was horrible to his wife and was otherwise disreputable. Yet they don't want to imagine he fell in love with the most prominent young nobleman of his day.

> and to conclude, they are lying knaves.

Michael, after reading this ridiculous post, I simply have to speak up.

First and foremost, the second thing I want you to know is that this is the last comment I will ever make here. And I'll have a lot more to say about that.

"Wisdom is what we learn after we know it all."

Beautifully written.

And I agree with your point about the importance of self-possession. Some of the James Bond films involve a battle of self-possession between 007 and the arch-villain. When the villain starts to lose his cool, you know he's going to lose the battle (hence the expression "lost it").

It sounds to me like he considers himself an expert.

What a pointless comment lol@bruce

------------Bruce Siegel wrote:--------
Michael, after reading this ridiculous post,[...]

Have I missed anything or has this strange complaint any reason which someone is able to explain ?

"Have I missed anything ..."

Bruce was joking. He was mimicking the Dogberry quote in the main post.

"It sounds to me like he considers himself an expert."

Good point. I think an infatuation with the idea of oneself as an expert does contribute to a lot of ego-based invective. It's as if one is saying, "How dare anyone question me?" This attitude makes all disagreements personal, and may help explain the vehemence of some debates.

I also find that people who react this way are often strangely enamored of the views of other experts. Maybe they have an undue respect for authority, or maybe they fancy themselves members of an exclusive club to which the hoi polloi need not apply.

Incidentally, it's amusing that people like Kamm accuse anti-Stratfordians of snobbery when their own position depends largely on the idea that only prestigious academics are worthy to comment on Shakespeare. If you haven't got the proper credentials, dear boy, you're simply not worth listening to. Nope, no snobbery there!

(That's not to say academic credentials don't matter, but sometimes non-academics can come up with new arguments and even new evidence. Schliemann was an amateur archaeologist, and he found Troy.)

"Incidentally, it's amusing that people like Kamm accuse anti-Stratfordians of snobbery when their own position depends largely on the idea that only prestigious academics are worthy to comment on Shakespeare. If you haven't got the proper credentials, dear boy, you're simply not worth listening to. Nope, no snobbery there!"

Well, yes and no. It's certainly ironic that those who would have us believe that Willy Shakes was nature's child are so suspicious of 'amateur' academics. But they are talking about a different type of snobbery, more class and heredity based.

Few academics come from the privileged classes - it is probably dominated by lower middle class. (To an upper class kid, academic salaries look frighteningly paltry. That's why they get MBAs) They were bright kids, got recognized for it and settled into a life that looked fairly leisurely to their eyes. They probably have a chip on their shoulder about genuinely privileged kids, who they are forced to teach. Obviously, I'm generalizing to make a point, but I think they are jealously possessive of their academic accreditation. Their snobbery is very different from the class based snobbery they accuse the Anti-Strats of.

Of course, the ultimate irony is that in defending academic accreditations, they need to believe Will Shakes magically needed no more education other than a few ales in the Mermaid Tavern and ignore the fact that Oxford received the best education available anywhere in Europe. He was, quite simply, an academic superstar.

"Bruce was joking. He was mimicking the Dogberry quote in the main post."

Thanks for rescuing me, Michael. Did you ever write something that seemed brilliantly funny at the time, and when you read it the next day . . . .

It was funny. Do you look like Groucho Marx too, Bruce?

When Joe Klein wrote Primary Colors anonymously, there was a computer program used that analyzed writing style and came to the conclusion that Joe Klein was the probable author, if I remember correctly.

Has anyone tried that with the works of Shakespeare using the written works of the potential other candidates?

"Has anyone tried that with the works of Shakespeare ...?"

Yes, that kind of thing has been tried. If I recall correctly, Christopher Marlowe's writing scored the closest match, giving some ammo to those who believe that Marlowe's death was faked and that he wrote the works of Shakespeare while living abroad.

I don't think there is enough poetry from the mature Oxford to make a valid comparison. Nearly all the poetry Oxford published under his own name was written when he was quite young. It is of uneven quality, showing promise, but hardly equal to the best works of Shakespeare. Then again, Shakespeare's early works (like The Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, and Two Gentlemen of Verona) are not the equal of his best works, either.

Some years ago a Dartmouth professor, Louis Benezet, put together a mashup of lines from Shakespeare and Oxford, arguing that no one could tell the difference. It can be read here:

As a follow-up to my last comment, here's an excerpt from "The Man Who Was Shakespeare," by Charlton Ogburn (a pamphlet-sized compression of his much larger work, "The Mysterious William Shakespeare"):

"Nina Green in her 'Edward de Vere Newsletter' has used the criteria of distinctive words to link Oxford's early poems and his letters with Shakespeare's works. More than that, William Plummer Fowler, setting forth 'consistent correspondences' in 'thought and phraseology,' has composed a large volume on 'Shakespeare Revealed in Oxford's Letters' (1986)." [pp. 60,61]

Of course such stylistic tests are always open to challenge. I have not read either Green or Fowler, so I have no opinion on their work.

I just did a quick check of computer analysis and Shakespeare, and it said none of the three, Bacon, Marlowe, or De Vere were anywhere close to Shakespeare.

In that series of tests Walter Raleigh was apparently closer than the above three.

Interesting. But as the report notes, many of de Vere's verses may have been song lyrics, which would make a direct comparison with poetry problematic. Note that even Shakespeare doesn't match Shakespeare when poems are compared with songs, as the authors observe: "Neither Shakespeare's plays nor his songs match his poems under modal testing."

De Vere wrote only 25 poems and songs that can be definitely attributed to him. They are all presented here:

(I linked to a page in Google's cache because the actual page would not load.)

The people who conducted the computer tests say that the 8 of Oxford's exercises in verse may have been song lyrics. If we exclude those, there are only 17 poems left, a rather small sample.

Moreover, the page linked above identifies 12 (not 8) of the 25 selections as songs. This would leave only 13 poems.

The testers also seem to have disregarded a common theme of Oxfordian argument, which is that Oxford/Shakespeare revised his works throughout his life. Thus it is incorrect for them to say that, according to the Oxfordian chronology, certain plays and poems (in their present form) were written very early. The Oxfordian thesis is that these plays and poems may have been written early, but they were heavily revised later, as Oxford/Shakespeare honed his skills.

One more follow-up. In John Michell's book "Who Wrote Shakespeare?", there's a discussion of stylometric methodology. Michell notes that a physicist named Thomas Mendenhall developed a method "of 'fingerprinting' any author by frequency of word lengths." Mendenhall and his assistants counted over a million word-lengths in the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and concluded that Marlowe's work matched perfectly.

Of course his conclusions have been disputed, and apparently no one has bothered to reproduce his results with a computer.

Michell adds, "There is now a flourishing school of Shakespearian 'stylometrists'. Eric Sams has a deprecatory chapter on them in *The Real Shakespeare*. They analyse Shakespeare's plays by sentence-length, numbers of words and syllables, incidences of common words or rare words [etc.] ... The result, says Sams, is chaotic. Every stylometrist has a different approach and rejects everyone else's method. Every discovery that has ever been proclaimed by one stylometrist has been disputed by another, equally qualified." [p. 230]

This is in line with my impression that stylometry is similar to graphology (handwriting analysis) - i.e., it is far from an exact science.

@Bruce - Doh! LMAO. What's a Dogberry?

"Do you look like Groucho Marx too, Bruce?"

LOL, dm. Now that you mention it, it does sound like a Groucho line. And yes, to be distressingly candid, I do look like him.

"What's a Dogberry?'

Paul—I was playing off of Michael's paragraph:

"In these matters (as in most matters) it's best not to be too dogmatic. Otherwise we may find ourselves, like Dogberry, declaring that those who disagree with us are, firstly, amateurs and cranks; thirdly, mere dilettantes; secondarily, lacking in all academic respectability; sixth and last, dishonest villains; fifthly, unfit for public debate; and to conclude, they are lying knaves."

This little episode has been a lesson for me in how little confidence I have in my humor, especially when I write. I'm only willing to think I'm funny if someone else says I am.

"This little episode has been a lesson for me in how little confidence I have in my humor"

I thought your comment was funny. Some of the people who didn't get it may not have read my whole post. (If they had, presumably they would know who Dogberry is.)

All of which reminds me of a saying that seems particularly relevant to the main subject you write about here: Dying is easy. Comedy—that's hard!

Obviously the only way to settle this is through remote viewing. Does anyone have a hotline to Ingo Swann?

@Bruce - I didn't get the joke due to a) not ready the post fully and b) ignorance. :)

although you probably inferred the above, despite my ignorance I am a pedant.

Never mind. Happens all the time that I find sth very funny and forget that other people don't have the background
information to understand it. And when I
tell it....well...

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