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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Re: New Shakespeare Mystery Novel
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1535  Tuesday, 29 July 2003

From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Jul 2003 22:53:45 -0600
Subject: 14.1524 New Shakespeare Mystery Novel
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1524 New Shakespeare Mystery Novel

Richard Burt wrote:

>It's called Chasing Shakespeares and is authored by Sarah Smith.

I got this book recently and read it over the weekend.  It was fairly
interesting, but also frustrating.  The author is an Oxfordian, or at
the very least an Oxfordian sympathizer, and the book is essentially an
Oxfordian fantasy about what would happen if a document turned up in
Shakespeare's hand suggesting that he did not write his plays.  The
protagonist/narrator is supposed to be a graduate student in English who
has helped "fact-check" his professor's biography of Shakespeare (as
though it were a magazine article), but for someone in that position, he
is surprisingly ignorant in certain ways and astonishingly gullible in
others.  I suppose that's necessary, since he becomes swept up in
Oxfordianism, blithely accepting all kinds of Oxfordian fantasy
scenarios as though they were history.  He eventually believes that he
has "proved" that William Shakespeare couldn't have written the plays,
though the chain of "reasoning" he uses to reach that conclusion is
jaw-droppingly flimsy and subjective.  There are some characters in the
novel who oppose the Oxfordian conclusions, but they are mostly
caricatures.  The Shakespeare "establishment" is depicted as ruthlessly
suppressing anybody who dares to question the "orthodoxy" that
Shakespeare wrote his works.  I suppose this book is harmless enough,
but it's a little depressing to think that some people might think that
the silliness depicted there is the way Shakespeare scholars actually
work.

Dave Kathman

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