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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: October ::
Ackroyd's Shakespeare; Shapiro's 1599
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1792  Tuesday, 25 October 2005

From: 		Al Magary <
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Date: 		Sunday, 23 Oct 2005 00:19:57 -0700
Subject: 	Ackroyd's Shakespeare; Shapiro's 1599

The NYTimes reviews the presumptuously titled _Shakespeare:  The 
Biography_ by Peter Ackroyd (572 pp., Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $32.50) 
and _A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare:  1599_ by James Shapiro 
(394 pp., HarperCollins, $27.95) at  Reviewer 
John Simon observes, "For some time now, what I'd call Shakelit has been 
a major industry. Books and articles about every conceivable and 
inconceivable aspect of Shakespeare are pouring out by the thousands. It 
seems unlikely that major factual discoveries remain to be made, but 
even as-yet-unsurmised surmises are becoming fewer and often sillier."

A less-usual aspect of the Ackroyd book:  "Ackroyd, unlike Shapiro, does 
not modernize spelling, heterodox as this was in Shakespeare's day. 'Any 
standardization or modernization of Shakespeare's language,' Ackroyd 
writes, 'robs it of half its strength; a shadow is not as dim and veiled 
as a "shaddowwe," a cuckoo does not sing like a "kuckow," and music is 
not as enchanting as "musique." In the old language we can still hear 
Shakespeare talking.'"

"As for claims for alien authorship of the plays, neither Ackroyd nor 
Shapiro wastes much ink on them. Personally, I hail the anonymous 
student who stated, 'Shakespeare's plays were written by William 
Shakespeare or another man of that name.'"

Al Magary

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