Orthodox Scholars' Rejection of a Catholic Bard

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PWDBard

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Jan 8, 2004, 2:55:10 PM1/8/04
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Efforts by one Stratfordian on HLAS to argue that the late Professor
Samuel Schoenbuam could live with or tolerate a Catholic Bard are total
rubbish. Schoenbaum's position in Shakespeare: A Documentary Life (1975) is
quite clear on page 50 where he characterized Peter Milward as a "recent
Jesuitical commentator" and "a sectarian apologist"...and criticized Milward
for trying to force the Bard into a "theological pigeonhole"...here meaning
Roman Catholicism obviously. For Schoenbaum, the literary works show clearly
that "the artist takes precedence over the votary".

This conclusion has always been the view of the vast majority of
Shakespeare scholars since the 1850s when an English Catholic named Richard
Simpson first raised the Catholic issue...certainly the conclusion of the most
famous scholars such as Halliwell-Phillips, Sidney Lee, Bradley, Chambers,
Harbage, Roland Frye, Schoenbaum, Rowse...and among the still living Bloom,
Stanley Wells, Duncan-Jones, Park Honan, and Dennis Kay. And we must not
forget Alan Nelson and Irvin Matus carrying the Stratfordian banner in the
trenches concerning the authorship dispute.

Schoenbaum in a clever review avoided any discussion of the Catholic
Question in his LTS review of Ian Wilson's pro-Catholic Bard book, Shakespeare
The Evidence (1993-1994) a book which Schoenbaum dismissed more or less with
the notion of "with friends like this, who needs enemies." For Schoenbaum to
make not one mention of the clear Catholic theme in Wilson's book is a strong
sign that he found the topic distasteful and did not wish to give Wilson's book
any credibility for this reason. The same year (1994) Schoenbaum's protege
Irvin Matus also ignored the Catholic Question in his own book, Shakespeare in
fact. Furthermore, Matus cleverly sidesteps or deemphasizes the Catholic focus
in a recent book review for The Washington Post of Michael Wood's book, In
Search of Shakespeare...using the tactic of selective quotation...to mislead
the potential book buyer.

For his parrt, Harold Bloom prefers a faithless, skeptical, secular
Bard...or a secularized Protestant Bard...and not a Shakespeare as a
Christian/covert Catholic dramatist which is where the Catholic Bard movement
points. The former view has been the mainstream view or orthodox preference
for a very long time and certainly Shakespeare scholars of Jewish-origin (such
as Lee, Schoenbaum and Bloom) would lean and did lean very much in that
direction. Harvard Professor and New Historicist Guru Stephen Greenblatt has
been intrigued with the Catholic Question and revealed in The New York Times
(2/9/1999) that he actually suggested (with no success) to Hollywood film
makers the idea of making a film about a Catholic-oriented Shakespeare. But
Greenblatt showed clear signs of backing away from the Catholic connection in
his 2001 book, Hamlet in Purgatory in which he ruminates in the introduction on
his own Jewish heritage and Judaism's more ambivalent or more ambiguous
position compared to Christianity about life after death. Where Greenblatt
comes out in his own big biographical work on the Stratford man's
crypto-Catholicism for W.W.Norton remains to be seen. The book is due out
perhaps in late 2004 or 2005.

However, the bottom line as I argue in my essay entitled "Bardagte: Was
Shakespeare a Secret Catholic" (The Oxfordian, Volume VI, 2003) is that the
brilliant and now quite controversial Michael Wood with his BBC-financed book
and documentary film has pretty much upstaged Greenblatt at this point. And
who can doubt that the Catholic Bard movement, especially with these additional
anthologies of scholarly essays exploring the Catholic connection under the
imprint of the universities of Manchester and Fordham are on a big roll now?

I say more power to them because the net effect of all this will be to
undermine or unravel the Stratford man's claim to be the real Bard. I will
take victory in the authorship any way I can get it, though actually I have
smoking gun documentary evidence and historical analysis/contextualization that
clinches victory for Oxford or rather a dual Bard...Oxford/Derby...Shakespeare
the Older ....and the Younger who married the Older's first born.

Enjoy, Buckeye Pete

Mark Steese

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Jan 8, 2004, 6:28:37 PM1/8/04
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pwd...@aol.com (PWDBard) wrote in
news:20040108145510...@mb-m15.aol.com:

> Efforts by one Stratfordian on HLAS to argue that the late
> Professor Samuel Schoenbuam could live with or tolerate a Catholic
> Bard are total rubbish.

You evidently aren't referring to me, since as you know, I am not now,
nor have I ever been, a Stratfordian. As I pointed out to you on July
16, 2003:

"We have the name William Shakespeare incontrovertibly connected with
the plays, as writer, Globe shareholder, and actor. It matters not a
whit to me whether he was the William Shakespeare from Stratford or
not; but then, as I have often said, I am a Shakespearean, not a
Stratfordian."

The fact is that even if you were able to eliminate the particular
William Shakespeare who came from Stratford as the author, the evidence
would still overwhelmingly indicate that the author was a man named
William Shakespeare.

> Schoenbaum's position in Shakespeare: A Documentary
> Life (1975) is quite clear on page 50 where he characterized Peter
> Milward as a "recent Jesuitical commentator" and "a sectarian
> apologist"...and criticized Milward for trying to force the Bard into
> a "theological pigeonhole"...here meaning Roman Catholicism obviously.

Not obvious to anyone who's read Schoenbaum, just your usual selective
and inaccurate quoting in an attempt to have him hold a position you
must believe he held, but which he did not in fact hold.

> For Schoenbaum, the literary works show clearly that "the artist
> takes precedence over the votary".

As indeed, they do, whether he was a Roman Catholic or not. The person
incapable of accepting a Roman Catholic bard is you, Peter. Initially,
your writings on the subject gave me the impression that you were an
anti-Catholic bigot, but it now seems more likely to me that you've
seized upon the fatuous notion that a Roman Catholic could not have
written Shakespeare's plays because you know that you must counter the
evidence for Shakespeare but you can't do it properly by finding
stronger evidence for some other postulated author.

Stronger? Neither you nor any other Oxfordian has found *any* evidence
for your candidate. You might want to start looking.
--
Mark Steese
unscramble and underscore to email
----------------------------------
The concept of being quoted out of context was invented, I believe, by
people who blurt out ill-advised statements and then regret them later.
True out-of-context distortion -- someone saying "It's not as if I'm a
thing of evil" and being quoted as bragging "I'm a thing of evil" -- is
rare to the point of being unknown. --Neil Steinberg

PWDBard

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Jan 8, 2004, 7:50:53 PM1/8/04
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Steese is living in a fantasty world. Anyone who reads page 50 of Shakespeare-
A Documentary Life can see that I have not distorted what Schoenbaum is saying.
Since no one argues that the real Bard was a Puritan, the thrust of his
opposition to what Milward was doing is obvious. Also his refusal to address
anything about Ian Wilson's argument on the Catholic topic is all to obvious an
attempt to dodge the topic.

Buckeye Pete

Mark Steese

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Jan 9, 2004, 12:00:58 AM1/9/04
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pwd...@aol.com (PWDBard) wrote in
news:20040108195053...@mb-m28.aol.com:

> Steese is living in a fantasty world.

In case anyone is keeping track, that makes one Baconian, one Oxfordian,
and one Shakespearean who cannot resist displaying their childish scorn
of me by referring to me as "Steese." At least Elizabeth Weir and
KQKnave don't address me in the third person. Steese finds it
disorienting to be addressed in such a manner.

I quite like the word "fantasty," though.

> Anyone who reads page 50 of Shakespeare- A Documentary Life can see
> that I have not distorted what Schoenbaum is saying.

I encourage anyone who has not already read Schoenbaum's Documentary
Life of Shakespeare to do so. It's an excellent book. Confirming that
my statements about Peter's distortions are correct is a minor
consideration compared to the value of the book itself.

> Since no one argues that the real Bard was a Puritan, the thrust of
> his opposition to what Milward was doing is obvious. Also his refusal
> to address anything about Ian Wilson's argument on the Catholic topic
> is all to obvious an attempt to dodge the topic.

Not nearly so obvious as your refusal to address my argument that even
if you were able to eliminate William Shakespeare of Stratford from
consideration as the author of the works, the evidence would still
overwhelmingly show that a man named William Shakespeare wrote them.

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