The Stroke and Line of His Great Justice

· 31 July 2019 ·

[A legacy from the late US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens]

I usually make my topical comments on Twitter, reserving blog posts for less ephemeral subjects. So it was, earlier this month when the retired American lawyer and jurist John Paul Stevens died on the 16th, at the venerable age of ninety-nine. I raised my glass to mark his passing, as did many Oxfordians. Stevens was not just a lover of Shakespeare, he was a quiet but known partisan of mine. (WSJ login required for that, sorry.)

Here is news that merits a post: in covering Stevens’s life, the New Yorker magazine has included, in its issue for 5 & 12 August, a piece by Tyler Foggatt titled “Poetic Justice” in the paper edition (Talk of the Town section) and “Justice Stevens’s Dissenting Shakespeare Theory” online.

For reasons of etiquette as well as legality, I’m not going to purloin the whole article. The first paragraph should serve to get you to go read the rest at the magazine’s site. It can be found at this link [newyorker.com], or by clicking the screencap.

(article continues at the linked page)

If you live where it’s sold and you want to buy
a print copy, the issue’s cover looks like this.

For my page banner I did purloin part of a photo posted a decade ago by the Shakespeare Oxford Society, who joined with the Shakespeare Fellowship to present Justice Stevens with the Oxfordian of the Year award, as described in the New Yorker piece. (The two groups later combined to become the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship.) The old SOS website is still up with its article about the presentation, and the uncropped photo including smiling faces and Justice Stevens’s bow tie. The photo was taken by Steve Petteway for the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States. I hope nobody minds. (If they pardon, I will mend.)

As for the New Yorker: there is no more important path toward correcting the literary/historical record than to get the Authorship issue before the eyes and ears of people who have never been taught nor told the first thing about it. Once they learn that real questions exist and that I used to, once they’re curious about what they don’t know and how come why not, then the facts that have survived and common sense will do the rest of the work. This is the pole star of my optimism. At the length, truth will out.

Mr Foggatt, in his article’s quick summary of Oxfordianism, states:

And it explains why the plays are so good, so complicated, so familiar with the concerns of nobility and the geography of Italy.

What a treat it was to read something this aware in the mainstream cultural media. Positive coverage in a publication with the New Yorker’s high standards and large circulation is a precious bequest to receive, even indirectly.

Thank you, Justice Stevens. It sure beats a second-best bed.
Additional Viewing/Reading

  • Shakespeare: Author or Pseudonym? [2h14m video] [c-span.org]
  • · Moot Court at American University, Washington DC, 25 September 1987
  • · with US Supreme Court Associate Justices William J Brennan Jr, Harry A Blackmun, and John Paul Stevens
  • In Memoriam: Justice John Paul Stevens [shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org]
  • · by Tom Regnier
  • · 17 July 2019
  • · Also includes the photo of Justice Stevens receiving his plaque in 2009. Mr Regnier was one of the presenters.

VERO NIHIL VERIUS