Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Bard

Reading my BBC History Magazine while chowing on my lunchtime sushi today I had a thought. It was spurred by the monthly feature "The Six Degrees of Francis Bacon", a geeky historian play on the popular classic Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game (name anyone ever in the world and you can get to Kevin Bacon in six moves or fewer).

The last link this month was Chrisopher Marlow who, like Francis Bacon, was alleged to have been the author of Shakespeare's plays.

Because we all know of course that the Bard didn't actually write any of his plays. Don't we?

This site here goes into the whole "Who was Shakespeare and did he really write that stuff?" question rather nicely, and suggests 6 candidates for The Bard (one of whom, I was pleased to note, was a lady!)

I am torn on how I feel about this....

On one side I think; what is our problem with genius? If Shakespeare was a Yank I am sure they wouldn't have such trouble celebrating the greatness of the man. Beethoven was deaf as a post yet you don't get the same accusations levelled at him. Noone asks whether he actually composed some of the world's greatest toons himself or whether some politican magnate (or woman) was behind the phony identity, stolen from an illiterate farmer.

Yet on the other side I kind of like the idea that Shakespeare could have been an early 'brand'. An identity assumed by a person (or group of people) to generate a certain understanding of product. "I like a good Shakespeare play - you are guaranteed to laugh at the comedies and cry at the tragedies. You can't say that much for the home brands."

So, considering none of us really know... does anyone have any opinions on the true identity of the Bard?


Johnny Rotten said...

Well I've forgotten most of my English Lit degree, but I do know that Shakespeare is a little bit like the Noel Gallagher of playwrights.

Stealing riffs, nicking lines, stories and characters. But of course, putting it all together to produce the greatest body of work in the English language.

But then, what is the most common definition of genius?

@EmVicW said...

Er... I am guessing from the direction of your argument that the definition of genius is a clever thief?

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