03 November 2011

James Shapiro wrote Shakespeare?

Take a look at the cover of the book and you'll see what I mean. :)

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So far, this book is amazing! It purports to be a balanced view of the Shakespeare authorship controversy, and presents the case for Francis Bacon, then the Earl of Oxford, then Shakespeare. The beginning, however, is a remarkable survey of early Shakespeare scholarship (late 1700s), tracing the lines that laid down the kinds of thinking that made the authorship controversy possible. I highly recommend it.

. . .

Now, after finishing this book, I still highly recommend it! It's excellent. It is not unbiased, but a long immersion in postmodernism has taught us that objectivity is impossible anyway. So, it's a lovely, lively survey of (not the authorship question itself, but) WHY people question Shakespeare's authorship. It has a great cast of characters: forgers, lunatics, spiritualists (one guy held seances in which his medium called up Edward de Vere, Francis Bacon, and Shakespeare to get from them the whole story. He did get the whole story of who wrote what, and even got a couple of lousy sonnets out of them. Funny that guys write better when they're alive than when they're dead), philosophers, psychoanalyists (Freud was an Oxfordian), novelists (Mark Twain was, too), feminists, historians, politicians.... It's well-written, quite readable, and (in the end) quite persuasive that Shakespeare of Stratford was the guy after all.

If you're going to go see "Anonymous" (don't know why you'd waste your money, really), read this first!

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