Quote family: The works Shakespeare were not written by Shakspeare but by another man of the same name
adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Aug 17 14:44:33 UTC 2014
Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> "Shakespeare" means many things besides "wanker." That's why
> his works are acclaimed. (Or, as seems likely, works written by
> someone else of the same name.)
JL alludes to an old joke that has been applied to Homer and
Shakespeare. Here are two exemplars:
1) The Homeric Poems were not written by Homer, but by another person
of the same name.
2) The plays of Shakespeare were not written by Shakspeare but by
another man of the same name.
I was asked to explore the history of this family of quips which has
been connected to Mark Twain, G. K. Chesterton, Lewis Carroll, Israel
Zangwill, Jerome K. Jerome, Aldous Huxley and others.
Here are the earliest citations I've found at this point.
The spelling "Shakspeare" was used for "Shakespeare" in the following
two excerpts which made it harder to locate in the GB database.
[ref] 1868 December, The National Quarterly Review, Volume 19, Number
35, Article 2: Early Christian Literature, Start Page 23, Quote Page
33, Edward I. Sears, Editor and Proprietor, New York. (Google Books
Full View) link [/ref]
This admission of the learned bishop's, that the Apocrypha was not
written by the apostle John but by an inspired man of that name,
reminds us forcibly of the Frenchman's criticism on the authorship of
the plays usually attributed to Shakspeare, wherein after a careful
review of the evidence pro and con, he comes to the conclusion that
they were not written by Shakspeare but by another man of the same
[ref] 1870 May 21, Harper's Bazaar, Volume 3, Meditations Among the
Tombs of the Washingtons by Gail Hamilton, Quote Page 322, Column 4,
Harper & Brothers, New York. (Google Books Full View) link [/ref]
What have we gained when we have reached the conclusion that the plays
of SHAKSPEARE were not written by SHAKSPEARE, but by another man of
the same name?
Below is the earliest instance I've found in this family of humorous
remarks based on Homer.
[ref] 1874, The Shotover Papers, Or, Echoes from Oxford, Volume 1,
(Special Commemoration Number), Arrowlets, Quote Page 112, (No date
was specified for this issue; the previous issue 6 was dated May 30,
1874; the next issue 8 was dated October 17 1874) Publisher J.
Vincent, High Street, Oxford, England. (Google Books Full View) link
The other day the witty D.C.L. listened gravely to a long debate among
the dons at the High Table about the authorship of the Homeric Poems,
and wound up the discussion thus: "I am much interested in the subject
now before us, and I have come to the conclusion on hearing your
arguments that the Homeric Poems were not written by Homer, but by
another person of the same name."
Here is an example in 1840 of a discussion concerning multiple Homers
without humorous overtones. It is this type of theory that prompted
the comical remarks.
[ref] 1840 September, The London Quarterly Review, Volume 66, Article
2, (Book Review of "The Plains of Troy" by Henry W. Acland), Start
Page 189, Quote Page 194, Column 1, American Edition Published by
Jemima M. Mason, New York. (Google Books Full View)
In the next place, according to the opinion of divers great
scholars--not Germans--for example, Mr. Payne Knight, Bishop
Thirlwall, and others--the man who wrote the Odyssey was not the same
man who wrote the Iliad, but another of the same name, who lived a
long time after Homer I,. and wrote so exceedingly like him that
almost all the world have confounded them together, like two single
gentlemen rolled into one; and lastly, the same scholars, and many
others, hold it clear that the man who wrote that book of the Odyssey,
in which the above quoted passage occurs, was neither Homer I., nor
Homer II., but another man again, whom we may properly call Homer III.
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