NABOKV-L post 0023047, Wed, 11 Jul 2012 10:16:29 -0400

on Shakespeare (1924)
"Zombies", is what I first thought, "they never stay dead."

Nevertheless spent some not-altogether-useless time reading the posts and boning up on the improbable controversy.
I'm afraid my first reading Nabokov's Shakespeare(1924) was not very deep.

I absolutely hate to chide but I think some chiding is in order.
One doesn't try to persuade by saying simply "Here! Look at this! See!"
If one wants to persuade one ought to be willing to explain one's case, to argue,
which Mr. Forte, Howerton, et al, fail to do.

In their rush to find evidence for VN's support for their theories
they have failed to produce, for their readers,
and probably in their own minds,
a comprehensive interpretation of the poem's meaning,
a mental paraphrase of its basic gist.

That the author was familiar with anti-Stratfordian theories is plainly obvious.
That this, by itself, should be construed as the author's endorsement of these theories is plainly wrong.

The poem assumes the reader has some familiarity with these theories
& simply uses them as a basis for imagining the real author of the Plays of Shakespeare
fleeing England at the time of Will's death.

Following this fanciful depiction, which includes the real author meeting up with Cervantes,
the poem concludes:

Reveal yourself, god of iambic thunder,
you hundred-mouthed, unthinkably great bard!

No! At the destined hour, when you felt banished
by God from your existence, you recalled
those secret manuscripts, fully aware
that your supremacy would rest unblemished
by public rumor's unashamed brand,
that ever, midst the shifting dust of ages,
faceless you'd stay, like immortality
itself--then vanished in the distance, smiling.

Here the poem declares that Shakespeare will, in fact, never reveal himself to us,
and that, for the most part, all we possess of him is really just his writings.

This, of course, negates the imagined escape of the preceding lines,
which stand as a kind of foil for this pretty definitive declaration.
It also stands against the whole anti-Stratfordian crusade which, after all,
tries to fit a different face, often with a fuller biography, upon the bard.

It is a gross misreading to think that the poem supports anti-Stratfordism.


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