Synopses & Reviews
For more than two hundred years after William Shakespeare's death, no one doubted that he had written his plays.andnbsp;Since then, however, dozens of candidates have been proposed for the authorship of what is generally agreed to be the finest body of work by a writer in the English language. In this remarkable book, Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro explains when and why so many people began to question whether Shakespeare wrote his plays. Among the doubters have been such writers and thinkers as Sigmund Freud, Henry James, Mark Twain, and Helen Keller. It is a fascinating story, replete with forgeries, deception, false claimants, ciphers and codes, conspiracy theoriesand#8212;and a stunning failure to grasp the power of the imagination. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;As andlt;iandgt;Contested Willandlt;/iandgt; makes clear, much more than proper attribution of Shakespeareand#8217;s plays is at stake in this authorship controversy. Underlying the arguments over whether Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, or the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeareand#8217;s plays are fundamental questions about literary genius, specifically about the relationship of life and art. Are the plays (and poems) of Shakespeare a sort of hidden autobiography? Do andlt;iandgt;Hamlet, Macbeth,andlt;/iandgt; and the other great plays somehow reveal who wrote them? andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Shapiro is the first Shakespeare scholar to examine the authorship controversy and its history in this way, explaining what it means, why it matters, and how it has persisted despite abundant evidence that William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the plays attributed to him. This is a brilliant historical investigation that will delight anyone interested in Shakespeare and the literary imagination.
"Fascinating."andlt;BRandgt; and#8212;andlt;Iandgt;The New Yorkerandlt;/Iandgt;
"Shapiro is an engaging and elegant guide . . . a masterful work of literary history, an empathetic chronicle of eccentricity, and a calmly reasoned vindication of 'the Stratford man.'" andlt;BRandgt; and#8212;Kevin O'Kelly, andlt;Iandgt;The Boston Globe andlt;BRandgt; andlt;/Iandgt;
"James Shapiro is an erudite Shakespearean and a convincing one. . . . A bravura performance." andlt;BRandgt; and#8212;Saul Rosenberg, andlt;Iandgt;The Wall Street Journal andlt;BRandgt; andlt;/Iandgt;
"It is authoritative, lucid and devastatingly funny, and its brief concluding statement of the case for Shakespeare is masterly."andlt;BRandgt; and#8212;John Carey, andlt;iandgt;The Sunday Times andlt;/iandgt;(London)
andlt;divandgt;"Fascinating."andlt;BRandgt; --The New Yorker
About the Author
James Shapiro is the Larry Miller Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1985. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, he studied at Columbia and the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, most recently andlt;Iandgt;Shakespeare in America. andlt;/Iandgt;He has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants from institutions, such as the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the New York Public Libraryandrsquo;s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. He has written for andlt;Iandgt;The New York Timesandlt;/Iandgt;, the andlt;Iandgt;Financial Timesandlt;/Iandgt;, the andlt;Iandgt;Los Angeles Timesandlt;/Iandgt;, and other publications. Mr. Shapiro lives in New York with his wife and son.