What I think about that!

This echoes something of my thought about the new Shakespeare movie which I don’t intend to pay to see.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. chcrix says:

    Several years of reading the late Joe Sobran on this subject (and following the sources he cited) however did convince me that there was something to be said for his views. (I take no position on the movie however, which I know nothing about – though I probably will see it).

  2. Ditto, chcrix. Except I never see movies in theaters anymore.

  3. ContraMundum says:

    As someone who has to write them, I’ve noticed that all submissions to academic journals must include two items:

    1. Somewhere within the first three paragraphs, a reference must be made to how your research relates to some project that your reader might think is a fundable “pressing need”: climate change, male pattern baldness, magnetically levitated trains, something like that. The connection must be real, but it may be very tenuous.

    Politicians seem not to notice (or to care) how tenuous it is; they see only the “pressing need”. I remember when the governor of Florida came to speak at one of the opening ceremonies of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee; he talked about maglev trains and fuel-efficient cars. That laboratory has next to nothing to do with maglev trains — it specializes in research involving much, much more powerful magnets — and as far as I can tell, nothing whatsoever to do with fuel efficient cars.

    If the research is super-sexy, like a claim that neutrinos are traveling faster than light, that may take the place of the “pressing need”.

    2. Somewhere in the last three paragraphs, it must be stated that “more research is needed”. There are no exceptions to this rule.

  4. Patti Day says:

    My sister will want to see this movie. She will beg me to go with her. I will make her pay.
    Father Z, do you have a sister?

  5. APX says:


    As a student who has critiqued (and I use the term loosely) a number of academic journals, now that I think about all the ones I’ve read, they do seem to take on that form. At least the ones from the American Psychological Association do.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Don’t watch movies or most historical channels, after spending to much time sending letters to producers about serious errors passed off as history. The History Channel is one of the worst for this, as well as PBS. As to academic journals, most have very high standards, and if they do not, they are not considered scholarly journals. Those of us in academia paid attention to this and if submitting, followed fairly stringent forms.

  7. Mary Jane says:

    What Fr Z said. Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare’s plays!

  8. Legisperitus says:

    I used to think all the theories that Shakespeare lacked the education to write his plays were solely founded on class-based snobbery. Later I came to think that my own earlier reactions might have been conditioned by my childhood indoctrination into American knee-jerk egalitarianism and there may have been a genuine problem as to how someone of Shakespeare’s class in his time could have had access to the necessary education.

    These days I have no strong opinion on the subject and will accept whatever the best evidence seems to show. Whoever he was, I’m intrigued by the various hypotheses that he was a secret Catholic, including the Jesuit/Shakeshafte theory.

  9. trad catholic mom says:

    I’m not going to see it either.

  10. One book about Shakespeare that should certainly be made into a film is Swan Town: The Secret Journal of Susanna Shakespeare. This novel was published in 2006. It was written by a committed Catholic, primarily for teens. Very well-written.

  11. contrarian says:

    The best review I read said that the problem with the film was that it wasn’t dumb enough. That they really, really tried to sell you on the ludicrous idea that Shakespeare wasn’t the author, instead of offering this bit as part of a silly campy plot.

    Too bad, since I heard the set pieces are amazing. I guess I’ll wait until my library has it…

  12. Mark R says:

    I wasted a good chunk of a summer reading a thick book by an old D.C. lawyer from a family of Shakespeare enthusiasts arguing the thesis of this film. The whole theory topples, imo, because of two conflicting assumptions: It sets the time of the authorship earlier. It generally preserves the assumed chronology for when the plays were written. If this were the case, how would de Vere write the Scottish Play, flattering to the Stuarts, before the Stuarts were on the English throne?

    Shakespeare or whoever wrote the plays, had been an actor. A nobleman, or worse yet, a member of the educated class would have been concerned with subjects almost entirely different from the plays. Stage actors imbibe and internalize an awful lot in the course of their lives — an education, but different from schooling. But he was just no ordinary actor…The educated were sui generis on the whole (sounds a little familiar, come to think of it).

  13. Mark R says:

    I might add, Rhys Ifans is a fine performer…wouldn’t see the film, though.

  14. My study proves once and for all that that Shakespeare’s plays were written by a million monkeys on a million typewriters and edited by loose consortium of internet blog commenters. Also indicated but less certain: the sonnets are by my neighbor Joel.

    However, further study is needed.

  15. Blaise says:

    I am generally of the view that it doesn’t really matter whether Shakepseare or someone else wrote them. This may be in line with the “death of the author.”
    The discussion on this blog does make me wonder about views on the authorship of the Gospels. (Human authors, obviously, not spiritus sanctus dictans). Do people who say “Shakespeare wrote the plays” also tend to the view that “St Mark wrote the Gospel”?

  16. Mundabor says:

    I saw the film and I found it brilliant ( I like costume films, too).

    I think the problems only begin if one takes the “theory” seriously.

    It’s fiction, that’s all.


  17. albinus1 says:

    Unfortunately, Mundabor, many people seem to lack any kind of critical faculty when it comes to historical fiction; if a book or movie happens to include characters who were real people, then it be true.

    As for the whole Shakespearean authorship debate, it amuses me, as a classicist, to see people seriously try to apply standards of evidence more appropriate to research on 19th- or 20th-century literary figures, where scholars can reasonably expect to have an abundance of contemporary evidence in the form of letters, journals, etc. It strikes me that the evidence that “Shakespeare” was written, at least primarily, by William Shakespeare is probably at least as good as the evidence that the Aeneid was written by Vergil, but I don’t see people trying to argue that it was actually written by Maecenas or Varro.

  18. albinus1 says:

    Sorry, I don’t know what happened to the end of the first paragraph of my last post. The last clause should read, “if a book or movie happens to include characters who were real people, then it *must* be true.”

  19. Sid says:

    Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. No serious and certified scholar of the period has said otherwise. And I have serious doubts about Shakespeare being Catholic. Rosenkranz is a villain; those who know German know that he’s also a Catholic.

  20. JSArt867 says:

    All these academic efforts to undermine historically-attributed authorship makes me wonder what’s going on… it must be something bigger than this. Strange.

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