The Magazine

Bard of Honor

Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare? Of course he did.

Mar 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 26 • By MICAH MATTIX
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If what evidence we do have points to William Shakespeare as the author of his plays, why are there so many theories to the contrary, especially as of late? One author suggests that the Internet has something to do with it: misinformation shared with a poorly educated readership. More telling, though, are the comments of Michael E. Egan, a respected Shakespearean who signed “The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt.” Asked by Stuart Hampton-Reeves why he signed it, Egan explains that he is an “agnostic” regarding Shakespeare’s identity and is prepared to “follow the evidence where it leads.” Yet, he states that ascribing the “astonishing range, wisdom and knowledge” of the plays “to genius is simply to invoke magic.”

In short, we live in a sadly reduced age that, nursed on the poisonous skepticism of poststructuralism, no longer believes in identity, much less genius. William Shakespeare’s genius seems “magic” because we are by comparison apes / With foreheads villainous low.

Micah Mattix is assistant professor of literature at Houston Baptist University.