Seeking for Righteousness

The Personal Blog of Kaimi Wenger

Idle Chatter about Fakespeare

I hadn’t had time till now, but Stuart Buck’s comment about the fake Shakespeare that Barbra used was about what I was thinking as I read it.

The Fakespeare which Babs read at the Dem convention is:

“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war

in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor,

for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword.

It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind.

And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no

need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry,

infused with fear and blinded with patriotism, will offer up all of

their rights unto the leader, and gladly so.

How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.”

Buck found the fake unconvincing to begin with; I agree. I’m no Shakespeare expert, but that passage absolutely reeks of modern writing. Let’s start with the words. Patriot is French and dates to Shakespearean time; patriotism (also in the cite) is English and does not. As one commentator at Buck’s site points out, citizenry is also a post-Shakespeare word. The concepts are modern too : narrow .. mind ; close .. mind? Offering up rights? Very modern concepts here.

The transparency of the fraud reminded me of an article in The New Republic (print only, sorry) about Sappho’s poetry (Oct. 7, 2002 at 34), which a scholar decided to patch up. The TNR article notes the failure of that patching up, and offers:

“If there is anything that the recent history of forgery has taught us . . . it is that a generation later any pastiche, however convincing it may be at the time, is indelibly stamped with the idiosyncrasies of its own day rather than those of the original it sets out to imitate.” (at 35).

I don’t think this particular fake is very convincing even now, but it definitely is stamped with the idiosyncrasies of its own day.

And one other thing — who is exactly Caesar supposed to be talking to here? “Beware the leader … me” doesn’t sound like anything he would really want to say.

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October 3, 2002 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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