Tuesday, September 11, 2012

anonymous and other tosh

One of the many reasons for loving Shakespeare is that he helps you win trivia contests!

At our church weekend away a couple weeks ago, the inevitable happened, and a Shakespeare related question came up. I didn't even get to answer it, another member of our team jumped in swiftly to answer, "what 2011 film questioned the authorship of Shakespeare's plays?"

Anonymous played with the ever-popular idea that it was Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and not William Shakespeare who penned the plays, that theory and many others consistently kept alive by the intellectual snobbery of academics through the centuries, agog that a small-town boy like Billy, who, as far as we know, never travelled beyond England, could possibly have written novels of such depth, political and social intrigue, set in far and fantastical locations, having nothing more than a primary school level education.

Well, beyond the fact that primary school level education for William involved Greek, Latin, maths, history, English, poetry etc etc etc, and that the whole world was opening up to the British mind during the Elizabethan 'Golden Age', it has surely always been true that imagination is a boundless facility, crossing every boundary of human experience, reaching into the limitless and grasping at the divine.

Ie, pretty sure Bill could figure out how to represent life in Verona, having never been there, especially as, conveniently, everyone in his Verona has an English tongue in an English head!

I can of course, like many others, credit William with the expansion of my imaginative and artistic horizons over the years, and I can certainly understand why an artist more educated than I by age 11 (and I have a post-graduate for heaven's sake!) was quite capable of spinning the majestic prosody of the Shakespearian canon.

And rather than snob about that, I want to encourage it! If imagination is not sharpened and encouraged, we never shall see again the like of William's capability. Our literature will grow poorer and narrower as our minds do.

Every school child should be encouraged to imagine fantastic worlds, create in their minds a full gamut of personalities, thus increasing their ability to empathise, analyse and strategise, three skills that will improve their life immeasurably.

So, I thumb my nose at Anonymous as an idea, and all the others who push Kit Marlowe, Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere, and indeed, any other candidate, not only because they have a ridiculously small island to stand on historically, but because I think every child, guided and encouraged, can unleash their own Shakespeare within.

So get to it! Read the Bard! And have a bash at your own iambic pentameter!

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