One of Shakespeare’s Sources Discovered

This is pretty interesting- the point here is not the tired old Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare, nor iis it a claim that he plagiarized. It’s that, using plagiarism software, scholars have uncovered another source or reference work that Shakespeare used for some of his plays.

“The findings were made by Dennis McCarthy and June Schlueter, who describe them in a book to be published next week by the academic press D. S. Brewer and the British Library. The authors are not suggesting that Shakespeare plagiarized but rather that he read and was inspired by a manuscript titled “A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels,” written in the late 1500s by George North, a minor figure in the court of Queen Elizabeth, who served as an ambassador to Sweden.”

And this was pretty cool:

“Mr. McCarthy is an unlikely literary scholar. Originally from Amherst, N.Y., he studied computer science and theater at the University at Buffalo, but never graduated. He began writing for magazines and newspapers and published a book in 2009, titled “Here Be Dragons,” about the geographical underpinnings of evolution.

That interest led him to wonder if literary ideas could propagate the same way, and starting in 2006 he began to explore the sources of Shakespeare. Mr. McCarthy focused on Thomas North, a translator of Plutarch’s “Lives,” whom Shakespeare relied on heavily for his dramas.

In April 2011, Mr. McCarthy brought some of his findings to Ms. Schlueter, professor emerita of English at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and a founding editor of Shakespeare Bulletin, a scholarly journal. She admired his diligence and natural affinity for scholarly research. “Dennis is the Steve Jobs of the Shakespeare community,” Ms. Schlueter said, referring to the self-taught Apple founder.”

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  1. Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Must go read article now.

  2. Posted March 15, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    That is interesting. A couple of months ago I was reading about Hamlet in Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare, and he referred a historian called Saxo-Grammaticus who reported the events that serve as the basis of the play, but he also says that before Shakespeare wrote his, some other guy wrote one on the same events, but it was so horrible that the play itself hasn’t survived — only the scathing remarks in the journals and letters of people who had seen it. So apparently Shakespeare saw or heard of that play and decided to do it better.

    So Shakespeare’s Hamlet is basically a fan fiction of someone else’s historical fiction. 😀

    I’m sure you already know this but I just learned a few years ago that it’s only been since the advent of the NOVEL that people have believed storytellers have to invent their plots and characters ex nihilo.

  3. Posted March 15, 2018 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    So interesting! Thanks for sharing!

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