Oxford, Ramus, and Love’s Labour’s Lost
The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of August 1572 did not inflict the same degree of trauma on William Shakspere as it did on Thomas Smith, William Burghley, and Edward de Vere. Oxford’s response to that atrocity was twofold. The immediate response was his “St. Bartholomew’s Massacre Letter.” The considered response was Love’s Labour’s Lost. Ramism had disastrously failed Ramus, but Oxford’s play leavens that failure with a comic indictment of the overeager Ramist. Oxford’s milieu included prominent but subtlety different embodiments of this figure. These exemplars were Smith, Cecil, and Gabriel Harvey. Stratford’s milieu did not include such personalities. The erudite Oxford draws on the works of François Rabelais to underwrite his comedy. Stratford lacked the erudition to support this intertextuality.