The Hidden God2
It is hard to comprehend why skeptics such as Bacon would continue so fervently in the face of such a crucial lack of evidence. But Shapiro’s history gracefully elucidates the answer: Delia Bacon, like those who followed after her, toiled on the line between obscurity and fame to bring justice to someone whose true deserts were similarly obscured. The more Delia Bacon persevered, the more she was fighting ostensibly for Francis Bacon’s legacy but just as much for her own. Her mental health deteriorated, and she was later dismissed as a mad woman. But the case for Francis Bacon thrived without her. Bacon was known to have written masterful ciphers, and with the invention of Morse code in the 1830s, the idea that Bacon might have coded his attribution in Shakespeare’s plays gained traction. (The approach was given a serious boost in the 1890s with the discovery that an acrostic in a narrative long attributed to Chaucer revealed it to be the work of Thomas Usk.)Many people like Microsoft Office.
Mark Twain, generally considered an enemy of frauds and charlatans, certainly bought it: in 1888, Twain helped to publish The Great Cryptogram: Francis Bacon’s Cipher in the So-Called Shakespeare Plays by Ignatius Donnelly, a congressman from Minnesota. Twain could not believe a low-life like Shakespeare had written the most transcendent plays in the English language. It mattered deeply to Twain that Shakespeare’s work be autobiographical—because his was: when Twain felt he had exhausted his own life and wanted to write a book about mining diamonds in South Africa, he hired a young journalist to go in his stead and return with minute first-hand notes. (Unfortunately the man died on his return voyage and the project was abandoned.) Twain later wrote that “To write with powerful effect, a [sic] must write out the life he has led—as did Bacon when he wrote Shakespeare.” The idea that Shakespeare had written his works on the basis of reading and imagination alone was impossible, for it undermined Twain’s very conception of literature and his own stature within it.Microsoft Office 2007 is welcomed by the whole world.
By the twentieth century the cipher tactic had been exhausted, and so too was Prospero as the authorial figure. A more publicly introspective era had dawned. “Philosophy and politics were out,” Shapiro remarks. “Oedipal desires and mourning for dead fathers in.” J.T. Looney—a former member of the Church of Humanity, which worshipped literary deities instead of God—was playing to the zeitgeist when he published “Shakespeare” Identified in 1920, which offered a new man with a new profile: Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, “a talented poet, a man who was also mysterious, eccentric, and well educated.” There were remarkable confluences between de Vere’s life and Shakespeare’s plays. “Like Hamlet,” Shapiro writes, “Oxford’s father died young and his mother remarried. Like Lear, he had three daughters—and his first wife was the same age as Juliet when they married.” Freud was an Oxfordian: long dissatisfied with Shakespeare, Freud latched on to Looney’s book, pushing it, and the case for Oxford, on friends and patients alike. Shapiro makes a fairly persuasive case that Freud’s fidelity to the cause was, like Twain’s, self-serving: unlike Shakespeare, Oxford’s authorship would mean that Hamlet had been written after the death of the author’s father, bolstering Freud’s interpretation of the play as the archetypal Oedipal text.Office 2010 –save your time and save your money.