Category Archives: Criticism

A Queen and No Queen (2018)

The latest entry in the Mary Queen of Scots sweepstakes is an eighty-five-minute breach of taste from the prurient minds of screenwriter Beau Willimon (House of Cards) and first time film director Josie Rourke. Ostensibly from the U.K., this picture has Hollywood’s progressive, not to mention pornographic, gloss spread all over it.

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Macbeth: A New Acting Edition (2017)

The original incarnation of Macbeth may have been A Tragedie of the King of Scots, as proposed by F. G. Fleay in the early 20th century. The received text of Macbeth calls for singing and dancing by the weird sisters, increased in number from three to six in the cauldron scene (4.1), very likely a turn for children. There is non-Shakespeare material in the play but was surely revised by Shakespeare at some point in the history of the text, and first published in the Folio. Continue reading

Requiem for ‘A Funeral Elegy’ (2006, 2016)

The controversy continues to swirl around Donald Foster’s attribution of “A Funeral Elegy” to Shakespeare. While many have assailed Foster’s claim, no one has actually disproved it. That is because mere speechifying is a futile business. Foster’s attribution is based on facts reduced to statistics. And it is only upon facts reduced to statistics that his attribution can be exploded.  Continue reading

“Phaeton” Sonnet Not Shakespeare’s (2006, 2015)

According to E. K. Chambers, “Some anonymous poems have been attributed to Shakespeare. The only one worth consideration is a sonnet prefixed to John Florio’s Second Fruits (1591), which was put forward by W. Minto, Characteristics of English Poets (1885), 371.”[1] There are a number of reasons for rejecting this attribution. But first let us review the poem.  Continue reading

No More Disintegration (2011)

[This article is intended as a prolegomena to a future piece.]

In 1924, E. K. Chambers delivered his famous lecture “The Disintegration of Shakespeare” before the British Academy. Twenty years later he published the text in Shakespearean Gleanings (1944), a shot heard round the world of Shakespearean criticism, and which eventually became misconstrued.  Continue reading

The “Autobiography” of Robert Greene (2009)

Pamphleteer and dramatist Robert Greene was one of the most popular Elizabethan writers. He was certainly England’s first professional journalist. Greene was praised in prose and verse alike, almost as often, though without the hyperbole, as Shakespeare. He was colorful and controversial, notable for his close connection to the London underworld. Several of his works continued to be reprinted long after his death. Today, however, Greene is seldom read outside the university and his plays are rarely, if ever, performed. Continue reading

“A Lover’s Complaint” Not Shakespeare’s (2008)

While preparing a performance-lecture on the subject of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, I found it necessary to revisit the least admired and read of the poems attributed to our greatest writer. A Lover’s Complaint was included in the first edition of the Sonnets, 1609, and therefore thought to have been written by Shakespeare, not an unreasonable supposition. It is composed of 47 stanzas in rhyme royal, the same measure Shakespeare employed in The Rape of Lucrece. Rhyme royal is a seven-line stanza with the rhyme scheme ABABBCC.  Continue reading

Kemp, Pope, Falstaff and Bottom (1993)

Insertions in the Quarto and Folio texts of the names of the actors, instead of the parts they performed, give us some vital information about the casting of Shakespeare’s plays. Just such an insertion tells us that Will Kemp played the servant, Peter, in Romeo and Juliet. The study of this character provides the key to ascertaining Kemp’s repertoire.  Continue reading

Will Kemp (1993)

Time has cast a shadow over Will Kemp’s origin, formative years, and early career. He was born William Kemp, probably in the early to mid 1550’s. We know nothing about his parentage. There were numerous Kemps in the London parish registers at the time. Perhaps he was a Londoner. But since Kemp was as well known for his morris dance as for his clowning, a better guess might be found in Old Meg of Herefordshire (1609):  Continue reading