Contested Will by James Shapiro
Who Wrote Shakespeare?

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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.

About James Shapiro

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James Shapiro, aprofessor at Columbia University in New York, is the author of Rival Playwrights, Shakespeare and the Jews, and Oberammergau.
Published March 25, 2010 by Simon & Schuster. 388 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Contested Will

Huffington Post

Sadly, .

Nov 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Contested Will: Who Wrote Sha...

But Shapiro suggests that Malone's own critical and editorial work on Shakespeare had a more long-lasting and, in some ways, harmful effect on how we approach Shakespeare than outright fakery.

Apr 09 2010 | Read Full Review of Contested Will: Who Wrote Sha...

California Literary Review

But the Shakespearean “old guard”, who believe that Shakespeare wrote every word in the First Folio, will be as rattled by this new image of Shakespeare as the nay-saying champions of Bacon or Oxford are likely to be.

May 03 2010 | Read Full Review of Contested Will: Who Wrote Sha...

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