What did Mrs Plato write?

Allen Esterson alerted me to and sent me the link to this bizarre item. (Did I see references to it at the time? Possibly. There might be a faint memory – but if so I didn’t follow them up.)

A study by an academic who has spent more than 30 years looking at Bach’s work claims that Anna Magdalena Bach, traditionally believed to be Bach’s musical copyist, actually wrote some of his best-loved works, including his Six Cello Suites…”I also discovered that the only complete manuscript from the time for the Cello Suites was a manuscript in the hand of Anna Magdalena, and that the original manuscript in the hand of Johann Sebastian had vanished.”

Oh well then. What more is there to be said? It couldn’t possibly be that she simply copied the manuscript (because such things have never been known; manuscripts never were copied; wives never were asked to copy their husbands’ work; original manuscripts never simply disappeared) or that the original manuscript was used to wrap the leftover strudel that Johann Christian took to school; therefore, beyond a reasonable doubt, Johann Sebastian Bach did not write the Cello Suites, his wife did.

Suppose someone found a fair copy of Emma in James Austen’s hand, or one of Wuthering Heights in Branwell Brontë’s, or one of Middlemarch in Lewes’s. Would people be rushing to claim any of them wrote the items in question? They wouldn’t you know. And rightly so. Suppose someone noticed a letter in which Frederick Douglass thanked Thoreau in the warmest terms for his help and inspiration – would people fall over themselves in the stampede to say that Thoreau wrote A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass? Suppose someone found a Christmas shopping list on which Toni Morrisson planned to buy a typewriter for someone named George Smithers – would everyone decide George Smithers had written Beloved? Suppose some alert scholar noticed that a contemporary of Emily Dickinson’s named Albert Innacan wrote poetry for the Amherst Gazette and that his poetry featured a lot of dashes – would new books pour off the presses claiming that Albert Innacan wrote Emily Dickinson’s poetry?

I don’t think so. So why do people swallow this kind of nonsense when it goes in the other direction? Can’t they see how pathetic and shaming it is? And if they can’t, why can’t they? Why will they insist on being so silly?

I leave it to your wisdom to determine.

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