The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0188 Monday, 26 January 2004
Date: Friday, 23 Jan 2004 15:58:23 -0800
Subject: Oh, those delicious, lost Shakespeare plays!
William Martin's _Harvard Yard_ (Warner Books, 11/03) is popular fiction
that uses a common plot device of a rare artifact--the actual manuscript
of Shakespeare's supposed lost play, "Love's Labours Won"--to propel a
modern story, as a MS worth many millions of dollars is motivation to
murder, among other foul deeds. Along the way the novel celebrates some
300 years of Harvard history.
Here's the Publisher's Weekly summary:
Martin, who introduced antiquarian Peter Fallon in his debut novel Back
Bay (1979), brings him back for a second quest in this sprawling
bibliomystery, which traces the tightly interlaced histories of the
fictional Wedge family and Harvard University. Fallon, a proud Harvard
grad, assists in the university's annual fund-raising appeals. One call,
to Ridley Wedge Royce, lands him not a donation but a tip. The
intriguing possibility that the Wedge family once owned a rare and
unknown Shakespeare manuscript-a text purportedly linking Will
Shakespeare and Harvard's founder-is enough to hook Fallon. But others
are on the same scent and willing to go to any lengths to root out the
manuscript if it still exists. How it came into the possession of the
Wedges, and what happened to it next is gradually revealed as Martin
spins through 300 years of American history-from the Salem witch trials
and the Boston Tea Party to the Civil War and up to the radical late
1960s-telling a tale of Harvard the institution growing from a tiny
establishment under beastly first master Nathaniel Eaton to become
America's premier university. Fallon's search takes a back seat to the
historical material, but the novel provides good entertainment and
copious Crimson lore.
A review at FindLaw, by a Harvard Law alum, is less than kind to the
lost Sh. play subplot, but don't read it if you dislike spoilers:
a line from LLW at
the end may not be a spoiler: "'And when we're done, and all songs
sung, we cry, Love's Labours Won.'
LLW has a footnote role in literary history due to Francis Meres'
mention of the title (a bit of background UVic's Sh. website:
and an interesting contemporary career. A Google search turns up a
modern spoof called Love's Labours Won, or Benvolio is Alive and Well
and Living in the Bahamas, and some fan fiction entitled Love's Labours
Won: A Love Story. In a scifi novel by Harry Turtledove called Ruled
Britannia (2002), about an "alternate 1597," Sh. has written not only
LLW but Boudicca and King Philip, and what's more, leads a revolt to
overthrow Spanish rule of England.
LLW has been discussed on this list fairly often, in its last appearance
being nominated as a pre-Falstaff version of MWW.
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