Everything is a Lie

L. Guy '18

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Romeo and Juliet, Henry VI, Hamlet, what name immediately is thrust to the forefront of your mind as your eyes glide over these titles?  

I would hope it is that of William Shakespeare…you know, one of the most widely known playwrights in the world, whose works have battled with the smothering folds of time and won.  

Merely utter the names ‘Romeo’ and ‘Juliet’ in a crowd, and no matter how stiff and bitter the minds of those who hear it, the image of a tragic, unyielding love will be conjured in their minds.

Whether or not people have read his plays or know anything of their plots, we all know these names, and we know the author whose pen bled onto parchment some of the most beautiful works of the written word.  

You can understand, given all of this, how scholars and lovers of Shakespeare worldwide would immediately condemn any who hint that Shakespeare may not be the sole author behind these masterpieces.  

For many years, there have been numerous studies and speculation as to whether Shakespeare was the sole author of the plays, as we know little with certainty concerning that time period.  The sundry minutia of that past have been obscured by time.  

Recently, however, with resounding confidence, Oxford University Press has made known that they are publishing a new edition of Shakespeare’s complete works.  And (here’s the aforementioned earth-shattering, part) three of the Henry VI plays will be co-credited to Christopher Marlowe, British playwright and poet of the 16th century.

This decision on the part of Oxford University Press will make history in the literary world, as it is the first time that a major publishing house will formally name Christopher Marlowe as co-author, despite years of speculation that he is duly owed such credit.  

 

How did these scholars come to this definitive and bold conclusion?

Well, Marlowe’s name was not inscribed in microscopic script beside Shakespeare’s, that would have been too easy and far less interesting.  

 

The discovery was the result of tedious authorship analysis on the texts, which consists of lasciviously pulling apart each and every word.  The four Shakespeare scholars who edited this new edition: Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan, tirelessly searched the plays for differing style or vocabulary.  And in finding evidence of this, they were able to match it to Marlowe’s style.  
However, despite this arguably brash confidence in the co-authorship, for many this is not a definitive fact that Marlowe was co-author on some of Shakespeare’s plays.  Certainly, in rubbing elbows in taverns and wild city streets the two playwrights may have influenced each other.  As to the extent of this influence none alive can attest to with unabashed truth.  The most frustrating thing is that, despite the efforts of scholars, we will never truly know the secrets of some of the world’s most well-known literary works.  But, in my opinion, that only strengthens the magic of the words.  

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Everything is a Lie