The Tempest is among best loved plays of Shakespeare. And, for several years, it is a play in which I and my collaborator Lynne Kositsky have developed a special interest.
In all, we have now published five articles on various aspects of Tempest sources, chronology, and literary themes, as follows:
“O Brave New World: The Tempest and Peter Martyr’s De Orbe Novo.” Critical Survey 21:2 (fall 2009), 7-42.
“Pale as Death: The Fictionalizing Influence of Erasmus’ ‘Naufragium’ on the Renaissance Travel Narrative.” Festschrift in Honor of Isabel Holden, fall 2008, Concordia University, 141-151.
“The Spanish Maze and the Date of The Tempest.” The Oxfordian, fall 2007, 1-11.
“Shakespeare and the Voyagers Revisited.” The Review of English Studies, September, 2007 (published online June, 2007), 447-472.
“How Shakespeare Got His Tempest: Another “Just So” Story,” Brief Chronicles I (2009), 205-266, print edition.
A Movable Feast: The Tempest as Shrovetide Revelry, The Shakespeare Yearbook (Volume XVII), 365404.
We have now compiled these articles, which include a detailed reply to Professor Alden Vaughan, whose Fall 2008 Shakespeare Quarterly article responds (sort of) to our Fall 2007 Review of English Studies article, and some other materials, into a book manuscript which is currently under review with a major academic publisher in the United States. On this website, you can track the progress of this project. Once the book is published, this site will publish regular updates, including reviews and promotional literature. (more…)
Lynne Kositsky sent the following separate response to the O’Brien YWES review.
Roger Stritmatter and I are thrilled that Shellagh O’Brien from the University of Queensland has given us a fair and honest review of our book on The Tempest in The Year’s Work in English Studies. We’ve never before, as far as we’re aware, had a positive response from an orthodox reviewer. (more…)
O’Brien alludes to the “stinging attack on the assumptions underlying Vaughan’s and Reedy’s works”, emphasizing that “Kositsky and Stritmatter point to the lack of evidence for any version of Strachey’s account prior to Shakespeare writing The Tempest, and the very problematic assumption that the letter, if it did exist, was available to Shakespeare in manuscript form” and concluding hopefully that “the questions raised about the ‘orthodox’ approach are significant, and suggest a number of problems for previous examinations of The Tempest, which were grounded in the idea that Strachey was one of Shakespeare’s sources. No doubt Kositsky and Stritmatter’s informative and well-written work will spark renewed debate and discussion of this topic.”It is gratifying to see that the influence of the book continues to percolate throughout academia, generating positive reviews like this one:
Since our last blog entry, four more 5-star reviews of On the Date, Sources and Design of Shakespeare’s Tempest have appeared on Amazon, along with one lone one-star “review,” by the well-known (at least on Amazon!) Oxford-basher BC Hackman, which follows his usual charming ethos by referring to the reviews of the 7 readers who have actually read the book as “crackpots.”
We are grateful for the new, thoughtful, and insightful reviews of Libby, Ricardo Mena Cuevas, the Bruce, and Frank David. (more…)
Three five star reviews of the book have already been posted On Amazon.
The most recent reviewer, MacDuff, “couldn’t put it down.” He reports that the book is “both a thrilling work of scholarly investigation and a parable about modern academic closed-mindedness, where a fixed idea has become so entrenched in universities that traditional scholars will not let go of it.”
Yes, it may be hard to believe. Stratfordians keep saying that we are wasting our lives in pursuit of a chimera, but at least the index to On the Date, Sources and Design of Shakespeare’s Tempest is finally done. Not to mention the proofreading.
The presses should be rolling soon.
We shall see what those same people say in a month when the reviews start appearing. The book is by necessity dense, but we believe it lives up to the promise of William Niederkorn’s preface:
Thanks to Stritmatter and Kositsky, [Edmond] Malone’s conjectures [that The Tempest is based on accounts of the 1609 wreck of the Sea Venture] are demolished impartially, systematically, and convincingly on the most considerate scholarly grounds. The reverberations should be seismic for Shakespeare scholars…..
Seismic. There’s an apt metaphor. On the heels of Shahan and Waugh’s Shakespeare in Doubt?: Exposing an Industry in Denial, a book which “impartially, systematically, and convincingly” shows that there is a serious problem with the orthodox narratives of the bard, the reverberations should indeed be significant.
It may now be pre-ordered via Amazon. Please don’t hesitate to share your responses here.
-R. Stritmatter and L. Kositsky
Lynne and I are thrilled to announce that our book, A Movable Feast: Sources, Chronology and Design of Shakespeare’s Tempest, has been accepted by McFarland publishers.
Although some of the book’s conclusions have previously appeared in our peer-reviewed articles as reproduced on this site, the book also contains a wealth of new material supporting the theory of a play written at least by 1603 for Shrovetide performance.
Contrary to longstanding belief, the play’s New World imagery is derived not from William Strachey’s account of a 1609 shipwreck in Bermuda, but from Richard Eden’s 1555 Decades of the New World. The book will include detailed point-by-point rebuttals to two newly published critiques of our work: one by Alden Vaughan (2008) in Shakespeare Quarterly and another by Tom Reedy (2010) in Review of English Studies, showing how their misplaced confidence in traditional authority has led to misinterpretations of the evidence of the date and influence of Strachey’s manuscript.
While many books have been published in recent months advocating the “Oxfordian” theory of Shakespearean authorship, ours will be the first to directly challenge the longstanding orthodox belief that Oxford could not have been the author because he died in 1604, before the Tempest and several other plays were written. At least in the case of the Tempest, that argument is no longer credible.
A July 2011 article by Barry R. Clarke, published in the Journal of Drama Studies, contests the idea that the Tempest author had access to Strachey’s “True Reportory” manuscript account of the Sea Venture wreck, but goes on to argue that the 1609 wreck “was [itself] a source event for the Tempest.”
Believing that “Vaughan and Reedy have organised substantial evidence” against the objection of our 2007 RES article that “TR” was not completed until 1612, Clarke develops another criticism of the theory of “TR”‘s influence — one that we also explore in our unpublished manuscript — that the canons of secrecy imposed by the Virginia company make it unlikely that documents such as Strachey’s manuscript would ever have made their way into the dramatist’s hands.
Most of Clarke’s article is devoted to a valuable exploration of why the theory, first proposed by Morton Luce and Charles C. Gayley, of Shakespeare’s access to a secret Bermuda Company pamphlet, is improbable on its face, given the degree of secrecy imposed on information about Bermuda, which was considered a vital asset in England’s “cold war” against Spain for control of the new world.
Instead, Clarke argues for a more diffuse and circumstantial influence of the Bermuda literature and other Jacobean gossip on Shakespeare’s play. For example, he devotes a number of paragraphs to discussing the possibility that the names “Stephano” and “Trinculo” are derived from the name of the Prince of Moldavia, Stephano Janiculo, who visited the Jacobean court in 1607. He notes that Ben Jonson parodied Janiculo’s courtship of Lay Arabella Stuart in in Epiocene (produced 1609, published 1616), and that the same play mentions (in the same lines) “Nomentack,”described by Clarke as “an Indian chief from Virginia.” (more…)
Concordia University’s Dr. Daniel Wright, Director of the University’s Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre, has announced that the 2012 annual Vero Nihil Verius Award for Distinguished Scholarship will be awarded “to the team of Prof Roger Stritmatter and Lynne Kositsky for the outstanding achievement, recognition, and prestigious juried publication of their research on the origins of Shakespeare’sTempest.”
The award will be conferred at Concordia’s Annual Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference, scheduled for April 12-15, 2012.
Others honored with the award for 2012 include journalist and novelist, Al Austin, in particular appreciation for his work on the breakthrough PBS Frontline documentary, The Shakespeare Mystery, as well as for his forthcoming Oxfordian novel, The Cottage.
Katherine Chiljan, in special tribute to the scholarly achievement of her most recent book, Shakespeare Suppressed: The Uncensored Truth About Shakespeare and His Works, will also be honored with the award in 2012.