The Establishment is unyielding

My main motive for presenting all these essays on the Internet is to help the reader to improve his or her understanding of Shakespeare’s works, especially of Hamlet. In order to achieve this, I regard it as necessary to identify the author of these works. Credit for this identification should, however, be given to James Greenstreet, Robert Frazer, Abel Lefranc and A.W. Titherley. The two last-mentioned have convinced me about Derby’s identity with Shakespeare. None of the advocates for Derby’s authorship, however, has undertaken to compare Shakespeare’s linguistic style with Derby’s. Therefore, I found it important to do it and to report on the result. (See Appendix.) There should be no ambiguity about the real identity of the world’s greatest dramatist. Experts are invited to criticize this method of identifying a writer. So far it remains uncontested.

As far as I know, no literary historian has ever suggested that the German Prinz Hamlet was written by an Englishman, or that the play had anything to do with the inauguration of Kronborg castle. Knowledge of these connections clearly adds to our understanding of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and to the pleasure we derive from watching a performance of it. The history of Prinz Hamlet therefore has a natural place among these essays.

Every reader and spectator is of course entitled to form his own interpretation of Hamlet’s delay, his character etc. All the same, it is my hope that many readers will profit from the essay where I have tried to find out how the author of Hamlet may have imagined the motives of the principal part in his play. That is not to belittle the more speculative interpretations, which are legion. The greatness of Derby as a dramatist lies above all in his talent for creating complex characters that lend themselves to numerous interpretations.

Many specialist books have been written about Shakespeare’s marvelous knowledge of naval terms, gunnery, music, medicine, law, Italy, proverbs, the Bible, etc., but I am not aware of any comprehensive summing-up of it all. Now I have produced one and presented it the essay about Shakespeare’s Identity. I hope most readers will appreciate having it at hand.

The remaining essays go a bit beyond the primary purpose of the presentation. They are included in order to satisfy the reader’s curiosity about certain questions that inevitably crop up in connection with the basic matter.

I feel sure that the majority of the readers of these essays will find the reasoning convincing and serious. This majority consists of laypersons. Besides these, the essays may happen to reach a few professional literary historians as well, although they are not supposed to concern themselves with a heterodox theory like this. Anyway, if they peruse the essays they will probably be convinced too.

This does not mean, however, that due recognition of the 6th Earl of Derby as the author of Shakespeare’s works would now be expected to emerge from the establishment. Within this group a certain consensus prevails about the theses that are to be taken for granted without discussion or further research. A person who does not accept the consensus on these questions places himself outside the establishment, almost per definition. His advancement will be thwarted, his writings refused and his publications passed over in silence. At the best--if the deviant is a Nobel prize laureate like Linus Pauling, Hannes Alfvén or William Shockley--he may still be accepted as a member of the establishment, but his dissentient opinion about vitamin C, the Big Bang, heredity or whatever it may be is then swept under the carpet as much as possible.

The things that are taken for granted are of course in most cases such that all normal people agree to. In some cases, however, there are included also questions about which there is no general agreement. This happens when exceptionally much has been invested in the orthodox theory. The investment usually has the form of books and articles based on hundreds of thousands of hours of hard work. The Big Bang theory is one example of this, the Stratford theory is another. Everyone who is familiar with the literature published within these fields must needs abhor the idea that the major part of this learning all of a sudden should turn worthless. The thought grows all the more abhorrent to any scholar who has himself qualified as an expert on the orthodox theory. It is like having built an excellent bridge over the Kwai river--only to learn that it has to be blown up as soon as possible. If you have built that bridge, and done your very best at it, you will certainly have to resign yourself if it happens to be bombed by your enemy. But to take the initiative to destroying it or to adapt the blasting-discharge yourself--that is quite another thing. Even when you realize that the bridge serves only the enemy, such an act may prove insuperable.

The professional Shakespeare experts are all honorable men and women, that is to say, they are human beings. They are subject to the same psychological laws as the British officer, real or fictitious, who constructed the legendary Kwai bridge for the Japanese and refused to blow it up. It simply takes an outsider to do the job, whether it concerns a solidly built bridge or a firmly rooted theory.

Therefore, no literary historian would like to be the first to acknowledge the Derby theory as definitely superior to the Stratford theory. But it certainly happens, albeit in exceptional cases, that even firmly rooted theories are replaced by better ones. The theory of the sun orbiting around the earth is not embraced any more. Also it did not take long, after the first assertion, before every biologist agreed that the number of chromosomes in human cells was 46 instead of the 48. Consequently, we can expect literary historians standing in line to be among the first to recognize a new and victorious theory. Unfortunately, without a first one there will be no third or fourth one. Of course, it is even more creditable to be the very first than to be among the first--but what a hazard. If there is no retinue, you are not the admired number one among a host, you are a disgraced outcast, plain and simply. The members of the potential retinue will certainly not furnish any guarantee to join in.

Because of this catch 22 mechanism, the present essays will not change the external opinion among the establishment. No public acknowledgement is to be expected. Please, gentle reader, don’t let it deter you from basing your opinion on the essays on your own common sense!

 

Appendix

Stylistic expressions shared by Shakespeare and the 6th Earl of Derby but not by all the writers of their period.

The following 30 expressions are found both in the works of William Shakespeare and in one or more of five letters signed "Will Derby" and dated between 1595 and 1607. These are referred to as "DERBY" below. The expressions marked "OED" are listed in the Oxford English Dictionary and those marked "SPE" have been found in the works of Edmund Spenser. The works of Shakespeare are referrred to as "SHA" and each separate of them with its customary abbreviation.

1. To see service (= to do military service). Used by DERBY in 1595. OED gives AWW (1601) and WT (1611) as the two first examp- les (both published in 1623). The next OED example is from the year 1778.

2. To write lines (= to write a letter, a poem or the like). OED: 1642.

3. To make bold (= to be bold). OED: 1393 and the next from WIV, printed in 1602.

4. To understand (= to learn) from or by a person. OED: 1611, but it is found in DERBY and SHA at earlier dates.

5. To receive (= take into the mind) disgrace, affliction or the like. OED gives MM (published 1623) as the first source. DERBY used it in 1605.

6. The hearing of a cause (in court). OED gives MM as first source.

7. To agree upon something. OED gives TIM (1623) as first source.

8. Testimony of love, intent or the like. OED: Milton (1667), but it is found in DERBY and SHA about 1607.

9. To be or to live at jar (= in discord). OED: 1552, 1586 and 1603.

10. To think meet.

11. To think fit. OED: 1611.

12. To pretend a title.

13. To put up (= endure, suffer quietly). OED: 1573.

14. To be to (= to intend to, to have to). OED: 1601.

15. To have someone heard, contented, etc. (= to hear, to content, etc.). OED: 1533.

16. To do no less.

17. In my absence (cf. during my absence).

18. Be fitting for someone. OED gives SHA as first example. SPE.

19. In someone’s behalf (= interest). OED quotes SHA. SPE.

20. To move (= to prompt, to incline) someone to something. SPE.

21. To present something unto someone. SPE.

22. To prefer a petition (or a suit) OED: 1580.

23. To account oneself. OED: 1579.

24. To leave (or refer) to someone’s discertion. OED: 1580.

25. To commit someone to God, etc. OED: 1568.

26. To ride (or spur) post (= with speed or haste). OED: 1549.

27. To seize upon something. OED: 1546.

28. To appoint to do something. SPE.

29. To acquaint someone with something. SPE.

30. In respect (= considering some circumstance). OED: 1530. SPE.