Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

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Simon and Schuster, Apr 6, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 352 pages
19 Reviews
For more than two hundred years after William Shakespeare's death, no one doubted that he had written his plays. 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 theories—and a stunning failure to grasp the power of the imagination.

As Contested Will makes clear, much more than proper attribution of Shakespeare’s plays is at stake in this authorship controversy. Underlying the arguments over whether Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, or the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare’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 Hamlet, Macbeth, and the other great plays somehow reveal who wrote them?

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.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gayla.bassham - LibraryThing

A must-read if you are at all interested in the Shakespeare authorship question (particularly if you, like Shapiro--and like me--believe that Shakespeare wrote his own plays). Covers some of the same ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DinadansFriend - LibraryThing

A useful book if one is not a professional conspiracy enthusiast. James Shapiro is a clear writer who marshals all the arguments in favour of the author really being the guy from Stratford. I think ... Read full review

Contents

shAkespeAre
15
bAcon
81
oxford
151
shAkespeAre
221
Epilogue
261
BibliographicalEssay
281
Acknowledgments
323
Index
325
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

James Shapiro is the Larry Miller Professor of English at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1985. He is the author of several books, including 1599 and Contested Will, and is the recipient of many awards and fellowships. Shapiro is a Governor of the Folger Shakespeare Library. He lives in New York with his wife and son.

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