Who was Shakespeare?

Robert McCrum “Who really wrote Shakespeare?” http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2010/mar/14/who-wrote-shakespeare-james-shapiro

紐育コロンビア大学のJames Shapiroの新著、Contested Willの刊行を中心として、英語圏ではシェイクスピア別人説への関心が再燃しているという。Shapiro氏の新著は正統的な英文学業界では相手にされていなかったシェイクスピア別人説に踏み込んだところに特徴があるという。Robert McCrum氏曰く、”Apparently, Professor Shapiro had gone over to the dark side, the blasted heath of the authorship question.” 但し、”his interest is less in what people think about the authorship question, more why they think it.”とも述べている。

Even in his own time, Shakespeare drove people mad with his modest Stratford origins. In 1592, rival dramatist Robert Greene made a deathbed attack on the "conceit" of the "upstart crow" from the provinces who considered himself "the onely Shake-scene". For Greene, and every subsequent Shakespeare conspiracy theorist, there was something enraging about the poet's genius. The explanation must be that Shakespeare was not original but an impostor "beautified with our feathers".

Later generations went further. There was such an unbridgeable chasm between the complex brilliance of the plays and what they reveal about their author's education and experience, on the one hand, and the bare facts of Shakespeare's life, on the other, that a better explanation than "genius" had to be found. Unquestionably, said the "anti-Stratfordians", as they came to be known, the recorded life of the man called Shakespeare could not possibly yield the astonishing universality and dazzling invention of the canon.

They had a point. All we know for certain is that Shaxpere, Shaxberd, or Shakespear, was born in Stratford in 1564, that he was an actor whose name is printed, with the names of his fellow actors, in the collected edition of his plays in 1623. We know that he married Anne Hathaway, and died in 1616, according to legend, on his birthday, St George's Day. The so-called "Stratfordian" case for Shakespeare rests on these, and a few other facts, but basically, that's it.

Into this vacuum, a bizarre fraternity, including Mark Twain, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles and Sigmund Freud, have projected a "Shakespeare" written by a more obviously accomplished writer: Edward de Vere (the 17th earl of Oxford), Sir Francis Bacon and the playwright Christopher Marlowe, to name the leading contenders in a field that also includes Sir Walter Raleigh, John Donne and even Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen herself.

マーク・トウェインとかオーソン・ウェルズといった歴史的ビッグ・ネームも出てくる。今引用した部分にも”Shakespeare conspiracy theorist”という表現があるように、シェイクスピア別人説の多くはシェイクスピア作品の捏造を政治的・宗教的なプロパガンダや陰謀と結びつけており、(少なくとも英語圏においては)陰謀理論の原型であると見做されているようだ。これについては、例えばPolly Toynbee “A growing state of mind that needs a firm rebuttal”*1を参照のこと。
Robert McCrum氏のテクストでは、様々な別人説及び実際にシェイクスピア作品を演じたり・演出したりしている演劇関係者による別人説への反論が紹介されている。興味深かったのは、演出家Trevor Nunnの発言。彼は一方でシェイクスピア別人説をロズウェルの宇宙人陰謀論アポロ計画陰謀論、さらには9/11陰謀論と比較している。他方、階級社会イングランドにおける成り上がり者への態度と関係させて、以下のように述べている;

So why the impulse to explain Shakespeare with heterodox fantasies? This, says Nunn, is a longstanding English problem: "To accept that someone from the lower orders, not formally educated at Oxford or Cambridge, could be a genius is very hard for us." And, of course, concedes Nunn, "there is a human appetite for mystery ... For myself, I don't feel the need to see him as a character, but I do feel the need to have a sense of him in the room, and I do have that.