Shakespeare Did Not Suffer from Imposter Syndrome
Genius or Imbecile?
Like clockwork, I woke up early. Today is Sunday, makes no difference. I am a machine. Sliding in my soft woolly pyjamas, I jumped out of bed with burning questions bumping around in my head. Questions such as where are the pieces of evidence of William Shakespeare’s ten thousand hours? How did he know what was going on in Danmark, Venice and fair Verona? Why he both started and stopped writing so abruptly?
I love Shakespeare's works, they make the ordinary extraordinary, the mundane poetic and the dead men sing. I can read them over and over and never get tired of them. But as much as I love the creative marvels, I love the truth more. As to the man, well, the man lived a mediocre life with great gaps missing information that there’s not much to love. There are just too many automatic blank fillings done by fans and scholars and I’m bent to know what’s underneath after layers upon layers of the onion got pilled off.
Was it another man of high status who didn’t want to be seen as a mere storytelling clown? Was it politically sensitive that the mastermind behind it needed a fool and a mouthpiece? Was a woman who could not be recognized as a formally published author because women were classified as mentally inferior to their counterparts? Was it a foreigner who was well to do, highly educated, and travelled far and wide? Was William a greedy opportunist who was simply after fame, fortune and some ale?
What’s there not to explore? For many who take so much pride in aligning their cultural identity with genius and grandeur, wish to maintain the status quo and indulge in all the perks that come from relentless moonlighting, perhaps humiliation, shame and bitter resentment? For others and to me, revelation. So there, after stuffing my face with a mince pie and three slices of Sorren, all washed down with hot java and a dog’s hair, I am fully energised. I wrapped myself up in my warm and fluffy dressing gown, leaning against my piled high pillows and cushions, sitting in my comfy memory foam bed under my thick duvet and little computer table, I started typing on my laptop.
Nowadays, we have computers, the internet, the World Wide Web and powerful search engines like Google. Writers can do much research online alone as well as the old fashioned investigation methods such as going to libraries and conducting interviews in person. But back in Shakespeare’s time, for a man of his social class, there’s not much to go on apart from word of mouth in the streets and taverns. So, where did the descriptions of European landscapes such as Holland and Italy came from? Drunken pirates? But what about the inside knowledge of European royal courts?
Why did a prominent writer like Shakespeare not leave any writing material for us to peek into his life, creative writing and thinking process? Did the guy just drop perfect final drafts of masterpieces printed in black and white ere stage productions? If you are a writer you know this scenario is completely bogus. Writing’s bulk is in the editing so where were the initial drafts and subsequent edits? Other creative masters contemporary to Shakespeare or even lived much earlier like Leonardo da Vinci and Virgil left plenty of written and illustrated materials for us to trace, review and study.
But Shakespeare just got an elder woman pregnant, disappeared and suddenly resurfaced as a celebrity rocking in London, with a big theatre under his name no less. After his theatre got burnt down, he simply bought houses, farms, and drank ale all day. Still no writing. When he died, few of his literary peers attended his funeral or mourned the loss of this massive genius. Matter of fact, most of his peers despised him and considered him an imposter, much to the opposite of the facade of a revered master.
In a 2019 movie All Is True, a fan went to Shakespeare’s house and inquired how did he know, he just replied that he simply imagined it. The explanation in the film is unsatisfying and dogmatic, to me, it sounds like wishful thinking, automatic blank filling and over interpretation again. Yes, Game of Thrones, Lord of Rings, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are imagined. All the made-up locations, peoples and languages are clearly products of imagination. But Holland, Venice and Verona are real locations, they are not from imagination, you can not imagine something already exists in reality and call it a massive coincidence, that is illogical and absurd.
So, what do you reckon? Feel free to drop a comment and clap for little me. Don’t be a Scrooge, help a sister. Starving online busker needs Christmas puds so come on!