Friday, March 14, 2008

Who Was Amelia Bassano?

Well well, isn't this interesting, what with all the talk lately about Shakespeare's depiction of Jews, and his own personal experience with them.  Today I spot this story about Amelia Bassano, a new candidate for the Authorship question.  Not only is she a she, she's Jewish.

Point #2 in the article is particularly relevant to our recent discussions.  Did Shakespeare really include spoken Hebrew in All's Well That Ends Well?  I wasn't familiar with that.    And #8 is all about the various "Jewish allegories" in the plays.  Oberon represents Yahweh?  What??

For the most part the article is just blatantly biased, as Authorship articles normally are.  For instance #4, "There would have been no way for Shakespeare to learn Italian in Stratford-on-Avon."  And #6 is just plain funny, citing "over 99.999999% chance this is no coincidence!"

Perhaps the funniest of all is that nowhere in the article does he mention Merchant of Venice.  At all.  Somebody explain to me why this Jewish woman would have written Shylock?


You know, the more I look at it, I wonder if the whole thing is a joke.  I almost think it has to be.


Alan K.Farrar said...

Actually there is a long history to the connection between Shakespeare and Hebrew - don't forget, you learnt Latin in school so you could read the Bible in that language - went on to Greek so you read the New Testament in the 'original' and then went on to Hebrew so you could do the same with the Old Testament.

The 'Lady in Question' is one candidate for the Dark Lady of the sonnets - she is also quite a remarkable lady in her own right.

Try this one out for size:

Duane said...

Yes, the author of the linked piece, John Hudson, is apparently the founder of the Dark Lady Players.

Alan K.Farrar said...

This one is a bit more detailed (and reading the poetry she wrote is the best argument I can think of against her writing Shakespeare's plays):

Mind you, she IS a fascinating woman - and could well be part of the MOV Venetian connection.

It has certainly been suggested Shakey and her were intimate.

Gedaly said...

Darn, you beat me to the post. I found out about this woman last night. I checked out the Dark Lady Players website, it sure is interesting. I had to laugh at a lot of the "evidence," but there sure has been a lot of time, thought, and effort put in to fabricating this story.

Bard Blog

Ian Thal said...

If she's an interesting woman in her own right, then we ought be reviving interest in the works generally agreed to have come from her hand, not continuing to ignore those works and just propose her as the "real" Shakespeare. The proto-feminist theology described in link that Alan provided seems to warrant some scholarly interest.

Anyway, it's pretty evident from the biography, that while she may have been of Jewish ancestry, that she was clearly a Christian (albeit a heretical one) so the claim that "her plays" are Jewish allegories are somewhat dubious.

Alan K.Farrar said...

She certainly is worth looking at if you have an interest in the period (not quite mainline though).
Perhaps London's only claim to a 'great' courtesan - father, a musician, almost certainly Jewish brought over by Henry 8th from Veneto with a group of other musicians (all assumed to be Jewish - so much for the 'no jews' in England argument - you need to add a lot more merchants, doctors, etc to reach a realistic view). Assumed 'dark skinned' - but no evidence.
As a 'prostitute' (if, of a higher rank) she could well have inspired several of the characters in Shakespeare's plays - if he knew her.

ren girl said...

I like this bit too: "In As You Like It, the forest is surrounded by a circle, everyone is starving, people are hung from trees, and deer are being slaughtered like men." The hell? What kind of circle is the forest in, & where do people get hung on trees? Poems get hung on trees, as I recall... & of course deer are slaughtered, people EAT them. Geez.

Also, I am not sure about the total lack of academic references in that article. (Though I am a dork, & want those things.)

I agree with jan_thal--she's a fascinating lady, so start looking at her as she is, not trying to shove her into Shakespeare's shoes.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, this Lanier theory got an overly credulous cover story in Reform Judaism magazine. It's ably rebutted here: