Saturday, December 05, 2009

Contested Will's first review


Columbia University English professor and best-selling author James Shapiro (1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare) will be drawing much attention to the Shakespeare authorship controversy in the coming months -- with the publication of his new book Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? in January in the UK and in April in North America.

Reviewer Linda Theil of the Shakespeare Oxford Society has gotten her hands on an advance copy of Contested Will and today published her review of the book on the Society's blog.

Much to this Oxfordian's surprise, she says that it's an enjoyable (if at times frustrating) book and an entertaining read that could make a "stride toward armistice in the 'trench warfare' of authorship inquiry."

According to Theil, Shapiro makes two basic arguments:

First, Shapiro claims, it would have been impossible in the Elizabethan age for anyone to conceal any hidden identity of a prominent author such as Shakespeare.

And second, Shapiro claims, it's an anachronism to suppose there are any autobiographical qualities to the Shakespeare canon at all.

Much can be said about both points, of course. But before I do, I'd like to read Shapiro's words first. Give the man a chance to say his piece.

In the meantime, as Theil says in her review,

I fail to see how a lack of interest in a personal story translates to not having one. Call it what you will, an English writer will not produce Sufi poetry unless he has been taught Arabic, trained in the methods of Sufi literature and imbued with the life and understanding of a Muslim. An artist can only express what his life has given him, and as Shapiro admits throughout this book, the work of Shakespeare was not the life expression of the Stratfordian.

That's plenty for now.

1 comment:

Kyle Baxter said...

It sounds like and interesting read, to say the least.