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Newfound Works by Shakespeare? Not Exactly.


by Jerome Weeks 18 Mar 2009

The Daily Telegraph reports on a newly released book, Enter Pursued by a Bear, by Dr. John Casson, an independent researcher and psychotherapist who claims to have unearthed Shakespeare’s “first published poem, the Phaeton sonnet, his first comedy, Mucedorus, and his first tragedies, Locrine and Arden of Faversham. He also explores the plays Thomas of […]

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The Daily Telegraph reports on a newly released book, Enter Pursued by a Bear, by Dr. John Casson, an independent researcher and psychotherapist who claims to have unearthed Shakespeare’s “first published poem, the Phaeton sonnet, his first comedy, Mucedorus, and his first tragedies, Locrine and Arden of Faversham. He also explores the plays Thomas of Woodstock and A Yorkshire Tragedy, and claims to prove that a ‘lost play’ called Cardenio is a genuine work by Shakespeare and fellow playwright John Fletcher.”

Actually, most of these works have been attributed to Shakespeare long before this, and Cardenio was first reported as a Shakespeare/Fletcher collaboration in, oh, 1653. As for Dr. Casson’s proving the attributions, there’s one problem (at least). It seems that Dr. Casson’s arguments are, in part, an extension of Brenda James’ theory in Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code that Sir Henry Neville was the “real” Shakespeare.

So you have to swallow that first.

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  • Mrs Whiskers

    Whether you swallow this news and the theories behind it or not -maybe you should suck it and see before criticizing them -you may find you have a taste for it! The criticisms here are rather broad -“most of these works” -maybe you should list which ones have been attributed to Shakespeare before -this would be more convincing. As there is pretty much no solid evidence for William Shakespeare maybe its worth giving these people the benefit of the doubt and at least giving it a read before damning it.

  • Well, if you had read the links I’ve thoughtfully included, you would see which works have been attributed to Shakespeare. I HAVE read the Brenda James work, upon which Dr. Casson draws, and I disagree with it, but then, I’ve gone on record that people trying to find an “alternative” explanation to the “Stratford” case are fooling themselves and each other. A number of my objections to the Earl of Oxford theory apply as well to Sir Henry Neville — the essential snobbery involved, the ignorance about what Shakespeare’s education and supposed limitations actually were and especially the tin-earned inability to distinguish one author’s style from another — and you may read them here.

    But then, I suspect someone who contends that there’s “no solid evidence” for Shakespeare — when we know more about him than any other playwright of the period — such a person is not likely to be convinced by my arguments.

  • John Doherty

    I have read the works of Brenda James and others seeking to prove that Shakespeare was an impostor. I have come to the conclusion that they believe they are seeing things in Shakespeare’s plays that are simply not there. For example: Brenda James claims that the plays often give minutely detailed descriptions of places in Italy that are, “startlingly accurate” I have searched the plays closely again and again but can find nothing which would justify this. Instead I have found among other things that Old Gobbo had a horse and cart in Venice! Really? A horse and cart in Venice? Lucentio, Tranio, and Biondello travel from Pisa to Padua by ship! Over the Appennine mountain range? Or do they go the long way round the foot of Italy, a voyage which could take weeks or even months. Vincentio makes this journey by road. A much more sensible chap. These and other matters pertaining to Shakespeare’s authorship are considered in depth in my new book, The Ignorance Of Shakespeare, Eloquent Books, New York.