Posted in Daisy Reads, Updates

February’s ‘Famous Figures’: A review of James Shapiro’s ‘Contested Will’

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Who was the bard?

This isn’t a question that James Shapiro tries to answer, but one he strives to make some academic sense of. Why are we so obsessed with the bard and who he is? And why do we continue to search for evidence of his life and existence over 400 years later?50428382_371966263603331_4747624129937539072_n

Shapiro’s ‘Contested Will’ is one of those rare academic gems; a well-researched text made approachable and accessible for even the least experienced and knowledgeable Shakespeare scholar. Shapiro is in ingenious in his exploration of the conspiracies surrounding Shakespeare and his plays, not simply just describing what these theories are, but how they came to be so present even now in the 21st century.

However it is important to note, that like any other academic text, facts can always be made false as more research is conducted over time. The fact that ‘Contested Will’ was published over 9 years ago means that this is more likely to be the case with Shapiro’s text, but this does not mean that the text’s worth is any less because of it. Even when searching ‘Contested Will’ on any search engine, no evidence of any kind of factual inaccuracy arises surrounding the text; but it’s always important to read and perceive these kinds of texts with some kind of awareness of its possible inaccuracy.

The text is well written and well approachable to the scholarly eye, but those who are looking for a more informal, thrilling read around Shakespeare’s life and conspiracies should turn away from Shapiro’s text and seek some of the more extreme (and invalidated) work of Shakespearean scholars such as Edmond Malone (an 18th century scholar who was proven to be discredited and who is hugely berated by Shapiro).

But this is what I feel is Shapiro’s most praiseworthy, defining factor. His exploration is rational, formal and is well balanced in its bias in that it feels that is has none (with the possible exception in his account of said previous Edmund Malone) despite Shapiro’s admittance that he is in no doubt that Shakespeare is Shakespeare, and not any other examples offered up by incredulous scholars such as Sir Francis Bacon, Walter Raleigh or Christopher Marlowe. Shapiro is a praiseworthy scholar in that he doesn’t allow his beliefs to affect his judgement in any way whatsoever.

So is ‘Contested Will’ worth reading?

Personally, yes.

That said, even as an English student, I found it was sometimes difficult to get used to the idea that I was reading a scholarly, formal text in my own free time for enjoyment; and this particular subject and text might be a stretch for those who are not used to the form and structure of such scholarly essays. But Shapiro’s text is well-worth a read when you are in good need of rest from some of the contemporary drivel supplied on social media sites today, or even just for some good old fashion knowledgeable fun. 

Message from ThatBookBlog:

Hi there! I hope you enjoyed this month’s review material and that you’ve been keeping up with more of ‘ThatBookBlog’ news over on Instagram at our handle @thatbookblogger.

If you’d like to make any suggestions towards what you think we should review, or even what you think our review theme should be for the month of March; please feel free to leave a comment on our ‘Contact’ page and be sure to follow our blog and subscribe to our mailing list for more of ‘ThatBookBlog’ updates!

Happy reading!

Daisy.

ThatBookBlog.com

WordPress: @daisythebookblogger

Instagram: @thatbookblog

 

 


 

Posted in Daisy Reads, Home

You chose… ‘Contested Will’ for February’s ‘Famous Figures’!

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It’s fair to say that the fiction and poetry of many of the finest writers of the past century or so…have been deeply autobiographical. The link between the life and the work is one of the things we’re curious about and look for when we pick up the latest book by a favourite author.” – James Shapiro ‘Contested Will’

I’m happy to reveal that February’s ‘Famous Figures’ most voted material is James Shapiro’s 2010 ‘Contested Will’!

You voted over on Instagram that Shapiro’s explorative text should be reviewed over Lucy Worsley’s ‘Jane Austen At Home’.

Shaprio’s novel explores the many conspiracy theories and rumours surrounding of one of the most famous, and elusive, playwrights and poets of the 17th century. Not only does he explore never-before seen details surrounding ‘the bard’s’ life and career, but asks why so many other authors have been suggested to write the plays that are still so popular today.

My review will be uploaded sometime around mid-February so make sure you follow and keep posted in order to receive regular updates and information.

Are you disappointed with the choice? Submit your own suggestions for review in my ‘Contact’ page and let me know why I should take on your suggestion!

Happy reading,

Daisy

ThatBookBlog.com

WordPress: @daisythebookblogger

Instagram: @thatbookblog