05042013: All is True

Congee and All Is True/Henry VIII Act 4, following a first-thing 20 minute workout supine.

According to Wells and Taylor, no part of Act 4 is by Shakespeare. Nonetheless I read it because it is part of the traditional canon. Many people thought that Shakespeare meant to chronicle English history all the way to the birth of Elizabeth even as Ralph Holinshed had chronicled English/British/Scottish history by taking the story back to Genesis in his history.

But that’s absurd. Shakespeare, of course, never filled in the spaces between King John and Edward III (assuming that Shakespeare wrote more than a bit if Edward III). And how the devil would one make a play about ANY incident in Henry VII’s deliberately boring reign? Your best bet would be the Perkin Warbeck nonsense.

My dual thesis, which my cancer-foreshortened life may, perhaps, never allow me to defend, is that we must be aware of a divide in the canon of plays more or less by Shakespeare, into plays expressing his genius as a forerunner of the Romantic single author of the single text, and his more workaday genius at making money by being a team member or team leader.

On the one hand, Shakespeare, as Ted Hughes maintains, was almost Ground Zero, the epicenter of several historical collisions who reacted by creating single-author works of genius from Romeo and Juliet to the second version of King Lear. We can discern his world-view which happens to be important by studying the careful architecture of these plays.

Individuals, especially those whose lives are spent mostly in taking care of a family, from my father to Shakespeare, are not thought to have a useful or novel world-view. But somehow Shakespeare’s multiple shocks prior to 1597, from unknown shocks causing him to flee to London to the death of his son, acted upon him tectonically, and very coincidentally he had, unlike most other people of his time, an outlet in the theater.

But by the mid 1610s it seems he had finished and was content to use embers of his fire to collaborate. The fire may have burned him: the blinding of Gloucester in Lear is bad enough to watch, writing it must have been worse.

Change Record

4 May 2012 Changes from proofreading


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