The Zombie Argument that Refuses to Die

The idea that generations of Shakespeare scholars got it all wrong appeals to the Saturday morning “kids rule!” ethos, where the kids smirk into the camera, adult authorities are easily duped, and the bad guys foreclosing on the pizza parlor can be thwarted by dumping a bucket of water on their legal documents.

20130801-133553.jpg[T]here are zombie arguments, which can never be finally killed. No matter how often they are — you might think — overwhelmed by evidence to the contrary, these arguments find new advocates, are reanimated, get unsteadily to their feet, and stumble groggily onwards.

A prime example of such a zombie is the denial that the plays of Shakespeare were written by William Shakespeare, and the accompanying claim that in fact they were written by Francis Bacon, or the Earl of Oxford, or Christopher Marlowe, or even Queen Elizabeth I. It’s worth just pausing for a moment, as we stand on the brink of an engagement with these assertions and before we have begun to consider their glaring weaknesses, to summarise the evidence for the straightforward view that William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the plays attributed to him. —Standpoint.

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