Who Wrote Shakespeare?

One of the papers I attended this afternoon was about the Gaiman & Vess Sandman episode based around A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The presentation was considerably enlivened by the presence of Charles Vess in the audience. Jim Casey made the point that the story is very much concerned with authenticity and authorship. The fairies in the story get to watch Bottom and his friends playing them as characters in a play. Shakespearean scholars, meanwhile, have always been exercised by the question of who actually wrote the plays, and modern theories are open to the probability that the final versions we have were honed by input from other members of the acting troupe. Gaiman, however, postulates collaboration of another kind. In the Sandman stories the two most fantastical plays in the Shakespearean canon are shown to have not been written by Shakespeare himself, but were provided to him by Morpheus as part of a Faustian bargain. Jim noted, however, that Morpheus is not a real person, but rather a character created by Neil Gaiman, and that therefore, if you follow the logic through, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest were not written by Shakespeare, but by Neil Gaiman.

And before poor Jim gets descended upon by hordes of irate Gaiman fans I hasten to add that this idea was presented in jest and was most definitely not an accusation of arrogance. We all had a good laugh, and I’m pretty sure that Neil will find it funny too. (Neil, I suggested to Charles that the two of you claim the whole story came to you in a dream.)

2 thoughts on “Who Wrote Shakespeare?

  1. And the time machime was invented in 2028, as we who were there in the fabulous presentation party yesterday, know very well.


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