Q: Sam, getting to the bottom of the Shakespeare authorship controversy is no small quest on your part.
Sam: Of course. In fact, J. Thomas Looney, in his 1920 book on the Earl of Oxford, makes several statements which express my own views on the quest to identify the true author of the works of Shakespeare:
"The transference of the honour of writing the immortal Shakespeare dramas from one man to another, if definitely effected, becomes not merely a national or contemporary event, but a world event of permanent importance, destined to leave a mark as enduring as human literature and the human race itself."
That is why I was willing to devote seven years of research to this project!
Looney states: "Everything seemed to point to his [Shakespeare's] being but a mask, behind which some great genius, for inscrutable reasons, had elected to work out his own destiny."
In addition, I'm always asked how Marlowe's fake death managed to be so well-kept a secret. Let me refer to Looney again, who makes an interesting point about secrecy in Elizabethan times:
"Mystery and concerted secrecy were moreover characteristic not only of the literary life of the times, but even more so of the general social and political life....We can be quite sure that in those times no important secret would be imparted to any one without first of all receiving the most solemn assurance that no risk of disclosure should be run....The carefully framed oaths by which Hamlet binds Horatio and Marcellus to secrecy, and the final caution he administers, is clearly the work of a man who knew how to ensure secrecy so far as it was humanly possible to do so. And we do know, as a matter of actual human experience, that when a superior intelligence is combined with what may be called a faculty for secrecy and a sound instinct in judging and choosing agents, secret purposes are carried through successfully in a way that is amazing and mystifying to simple minds."
It has taken 300 years to unravel this best-kept secret!
© The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection, September 2008
Samuel Blumenfeld, a World War II veteran of the Italian campaign, has authored more than ten books. His latest, The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection: A New Study of the Authorship Question, was published by McFarland. He is a former editor in the New York book publishing industry and has lectured widely. His writings have appeared in such diverse publications as Esquire, Reason, Education Digest, Vital Speeches of the Day, Boston, and many others. He is a regular contributor to MSC.
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