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"The essence of what I desire is simply this: to sleep away life."

—Fernando Pessoa 
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love storiesthe curator

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Witches of Tumblr - {1/?}~ Heathen Witches ~ Brynja-Storm

The lightning splits the sky

As thunder shakes the ground

And resonates deep in her soul

The power of the on coming storm is in veins,

Embedded in her heart and reflected in her eyes,

 Warrior Queen of wind and gale,

She dances in candle light hours,

Stirring energy in her wake,

Her will flies threw air like arrows,

Strong, independent, a force of nature unto herself,

Beautiful and Strong and Wrathful,

She was chosen by strong Gods, 

For only they could fuel her fire,

Bold and Passionate, and Fierce,

She is the Storm Witch

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Vincent van Gogh, Kop van een skelet met brandende sigaret (
Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette) ; 1886

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A reminder for today that supporting the idea that Oxford or Sir Francis Bacon or whoever wrote Shakespeare’s works is inherently classist and undermines the very essence of what makes Shakespeare great: the universality of his writing.

Shakespeare didn’t write to impress academics or to become reknown in literary circles, he wrote because he loved it and he loved acting and the theater, because he liked showing people up and he liked getting paid.

Shakespeare wrote a lot of plays where the main characters are noble, yes, but he wrote actors too — and teenage kids and poor grad students and nurses. His nobles aren’t memorable because they are grand but because anyone can relate to them, Hamlet’s not special to us because he’s a prince but because many of us can see our struggles in his thoughts and actions.

Do not let Oxfordians or Baconians take away what is special about Shakespeare: that he was an ordinary man writing plays not just for nobles or kings, for landowners or the highly educated elite but for ordinary people — for apprentices and butchers and merchant’s wives and maids. His company performed at court, but they also performed at the Globe, where you could get in for a penny if you didn’t mind standing in a crowd.

The Authorship Question isn’t really about discovering “who really wrote Shakespeare,” it’s about elitists being upset and confused and angry because the greatest works in the English language were written by the son of a well-off tradesman who never went to college. 


I would also like to add that a lot of the Authorship Question also arises from a fundamental misunderstanding of early modern English culture. A lot of the records that we have for Shakespeare are business-oriented because those were the sorts of documents that were considered important. It’s not a fundamental disconnect from the solitary genius baring his soul though poetry (an idea that emerged via 19th century Romantics— before Wordsworth, sonnets were not considered to be confessional in nature). It’s just a matter of what archives were important to early modern people.

There’s not an absence of evidence, there’s an absence of archive, based on what Shakespeare’s contemporaries thought was important to preserve. We know about as much about Shakespeare’s life as we know about other Elizabethan playwrights. (This podcast offers more poof of this. The lecturer wrote for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and mentions that only seven lost years for an early modern subject was considered remarkably good going.) It’s only because Shakespeare was glommed onto as a secular Jesus in the 18th and 19th century (and the rise of biography as a genre starting with I think Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson) that knowing more about his life became an obsession, to the point where there were famous forgers and people began to think that an absence of evidence that they and their 18th/19th century contemporaries would have preserved was proof of a conspiracy. 

As to the education argument— that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what English grammar schools were like during the Elizabethan era. The references and allusions in Shakespeare’s plays are perfectly consistent with the curriculum of a typical grammar school graduate. And speaking of the plays, they are fundamentally of the theater and for the theater. They flatter patrons (o hai there Banquo’s successively handsomer and kinglier descendants *cough*James I*cough), they play with what could and could not be done on a stage. They retell stories popular at the time (The Merchant of Venice is often considered to be a reaction to Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta). 

Shakespeare wrote for people like him— for people like us. Not people who preserved the same things we do, or who learned the same things we do, but people who felt the same as we do. 

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