I don’t know how long it’s been there, but I only noticed The Bard on the platform at Charing Cross tube station the other day.
Apparently it’s a poem called On the Portrait of Shakespeare by Ben Johnson and was opposite Shakespeare’s portrait on the inside of the First Folio edition.
I’m resolved to keep my eyes open for more such things…
The very idea of converting great literature into a series of numbers would normally fill me with colic, but The Guardian’s ‘What’s in a number? William Shakespeare’s legacy analysed‘ takes an interesting statistical look at all aspects of his work.
52 characters are stabbed to death throughout his sacred oeuvre, for example, but only 2 are baked in a pie and one meets his end pursued by a bear!
It’s The Bard’s birthday today (something much more worthy of celebration than St. George’s Day!).
I assume that this is why the publishers chose to release Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy at this time. I’ve had this book on pre-order since learning of it in a Guardian article a few months ago, and it arrived yesterday. It’s a collection of academic works pulled together to, supposedly, once and for all lay to rest the Oxfordian theorists idea that William Shakespeare wasn’t in fact the author of the works attributed to him.
Now, I generally have three or four books on the go. But I’m setting them all aside just to read this book. I’ve never been convinced by the conspiracy theories posited about the man and it’s going to be good to have something which (I hope), will shut up the nay-sayers once and for all.
Of course real life doesn’t work like that does it? We’ve seen it time and time again with everyone from religious creationists to 9/11 paranoiacs, that even the most compelling evidence just forces them to entrench their positions.
So, I’m getting ahead of myself and declaring victory before even reading a word. But what I’d really like, is not for this book to reignite the debate on the subject – as there is no really serious debate. It would be nice for it to just lay the whole matter to rest and for this fringe group of deniers to climb down off their soap boxes and just let us enjoy the literary legacy of this incredible man.
We all know that this won’t happen though…