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The Sweet Passage of Time

So, coursebook preparation, eh? It takes a lot longer than you ever think and there is always the threat of violating copyright law (which I’m not the biggest fan of, I have to say) when you provide readings. Thus I’m now behind on a whole lot of things, some of which are vitally important and others just annoying.

One of the topics I am touching upon in my up-coming course (enrol now!) is the authorship question in re Shakespeare. I call it a literary Conspiracy Theory; some of the theories advanced to support, say, the de Vere claim to the ‘Shakespeare’ canon, claim that certain members of Elizabethian England deliberately hid the nature of the true author of the plays. It’s all very ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (or ‘Angels and Demons,’ which is a better book and yes, that isn’t saying much) (another topic I am touching upon in the course) and it usefully extends Conspiracy Theories into the domain of real academic research rather than the usual suspicion that it is only small men in anoraks who indulge such fantasies.

It’s a fascinating debate; the supporters of de Vere get especially vexed about people assuming Shakespeare wrote his own canon. The Bacon hypothesis seems a little self-defeating, what with Bacon having admitted to knowing and liking Shakespeare, and the Marlow claim requires some kind of alternate history where he fakes his own death. I heard somewhere recently that the theory that the language-use comparison between Bacon and Shakespeare that supposedly showed that Bacon either wrote the canon (or Shakespeare wrote Bacon; it does swing both ways) was debunked and the author closest in style to Shakespeare is no other than Jackie Collins (or someone like that; can anyone confirm this; I can’t find a citation (as of yet)).

Frankly, this stuff makes the Priory of Sion debate look positively tame. Except that Sion has the Cagoule connection and might well be one of the motivating factors behind the EU… But you’ll have to enrol to hear more about that, won’t you.


About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.

4 comments:

  1. “It’s all very ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (or ‘Angels and Demons,’ which is a better book and yes, that isn’t saying much”

    You poor bugger, you have to read Dan Brown as well as Ian Wishart, the things you do for us all, reading that crap so we don’t have to.

  2. I was going to say ‘Well, someone has to’ except that if people didn’t then crap like that wouldn’t get published and the world would be a better (if possibly not as interesting) place.

    Frankly, there are days where I do sincerely believe that Aristotle was right that the advent of writing was a really bad idea.

  3. I suspect most (if not all) conspiracy theories start off orally. I’m also sure that there are lots of conspiracy theories (some even good) that have been lost to history due to a lack of a written record.

    But, importantly, if Dan Brown had never written that book then I wouldn’t have to know that there is a special illustrated edition that probably cost more to typeset than I earn in a year.

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