Alias Shakespeare : solving the greatest literary mystery of all time /
Joseph Sobran.
New York : Free Press, c1997.
311 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm.
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New York : Free Press, c1997.
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Includes bibliographical references (p. 297-299) and index.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1997-11:
Sobran provides a readable summary of arguments that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote the Shakespeare plays. The book is enjoyable, if somewhat frustrating. Some readers (particularly those fascinated with conspiracy theories) will agree with Sobran and will be fascinated by alleged new scandals--that the sonnets chronicle Oxford's homosexual affair with Southampton and that the First Folio excludes the sonnets to distance "Shakespeare" from this earlier scandal. Other readers will ask why Sobran ruthlessly demolishes alleged links to "Shakspere of Stratford" and advances as "proof" similar links to Oxford, and how and why the notorious "open secret" that Oxford was "Shakespeare" was kept. They will question Sobran's basic argument: since very few facts are known about Shakespeare of Stratford, and extensive facts are known about Oxford--whose life and language echo the milieu of the plays--Oxford must have been the author (together, one supposes, with several dozens, or hundreds, of other notable Elizabethans). Sobran argues that "Shakespeare" was nobility because he had an insider's understanding of the feudal system (as would any other intelligent insider). Recommended for general readers and definitive Shakespeare collections. D. O. Dickerson; Judson College
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1997-03-17:
Provocatively separating William Shakespeare of Stratford from William Shakespeare the playwright, Sobran demonstrates that neither one could have been the other. The burgher from Stratford who became an occasional actor and an investor in a London playhouse appears to Sobran to have had neither the schooling nor the experience of the world to have written the most spellbinding and sophisticated dramas produced in England. Nor did he have, Sobran guesses, the essential aristocratic and erudite contacts to have been able to write so knowledgeably about law courts, literary antecedents and the lives of the nobility. And, while Sobran can match lines of the Shakespeare plays to an overwhelming number of individuals and experiences from the life of Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford, he finds no such connections to Shakespeare of Stratford. "Oxford," he declares, "seems to have known everyone Mr. Shakespeare should have known if he was Shakespeare." To clinch the matter, Sobran finds no sources for the famous plays emerging after the earl's death in June 1604. Sobran, a journalist and longtime amateur of Shakespeare, makes one of the most persuasive arguments yet for the identification of Oxford as Shakespeare; however, the subtitle seems overconfident. Why has the alleged identification always faded before? Why were there no contemporary claims? The earl may have wanted to conceal his connection with a money-grubbing trade, but why, in a lively press, did no gossips expose, posthumously, the stand-in for his imposture? (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, March 1997
Choice, November 1997
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