Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How those Oxfordians do go on.

Some people out in the world think that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote most (or all) of Shakespeare's plays. To prove their claim, some of the more industrious among them have resorted to such highly respected methods as ouigi boards. I don't think I've ever met an Oxfordian, but I have met adults who believe in unicorns. While I won't go so far as to call Oxfordians "stupid," because some very intelligent people have subscribed to this theory, there is not a single shred of concrete evidence to support the convoluted narrative that they create to justify de Vere as the author of the canon.

I mention this because, while doing a little bit of research, I stumbled across this article, which as you've probably guessed proposes de Vere as the author of Merry Devil. Is it impossible? Yes, but the evidence that this apparently anonymous author puts forth doesn't even come close to suggesting it. Lets look at his argument, you know, for fun. I'll sumarize in bullet points:
  • Merry Devil was probably written by a Cambridge graduate because it refers to Cambridge in a positive way.
  • The author was familiar with an area 15 miles south of London, as evidenced by the references to specific locales.
  • The play was probably written before 1572, because there was no Duke of Norfolk after 1572.
  • Merry Devil is about young men in love, and must have been written by a young man in love. Coincidentally, de Vere was a young man at that time.
  • de Vere was a friend of Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk
  • de Vere was proclaimed as a comedy writer
Therefore, de Vere wrote Merry Devil. Case closed, right? Of course, by this logic, Harry Potter must have been written by a Hogwart's graduate still young enough to remember his early years there. Probably by someone who knew the principle characters.

The fact is, while Fabell the Cambridge scholar and his student are portrayed sympathetically, you could substitute just about any school name in there and it wouldn't change a thing. Even so, a lot of people went to Cambridge, Christopher Marlowe, for example. Also, a lot of people probably were familiar enough with the area in which the play takes place to have written about it. Just about every other point that the author makes in this article begs the question: de Vere could have written it, therefore he may have.

Still, the references to the fate of Howard and Jerningham are rather intriguing, and might be worth some further investigation.

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