Shakespearian scholars are not taking Calvin Hoffman's ingenious theory too seriously, but it makes entertaining reading for...

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THE MURDER OF THE MAN WHO WAS `SHAKESPEARE'

Shakespearian scholars are not taking Calvin Hoffman's ingenious theory too seriously, but it makes entertaining reading for the uninitiated, to whom the battle of the identity of the playwright is paramount. Hoffman has been exploring for some nineteen years the clues to fit his conviction that Christopher Marlowe had not been killed in a pub, but had been spirited away to escape political assignment to death, and had continued to write the plays that are attributed to Shakespeare. He aligns on his side a redoubtable array of doubters; he permits- after meticulous line by line examination the texts of Marlowe and Shakespeare to provide their own evidence; he stresses the poverty of knowledge about Shakespeare and the facts that Marlowe, had he survived, could readily have fulfilled all requirements; he documents the inconsistencies, the contradictions, the recurrent evidence of long term influence of Marlowe on Shakespeare. And he makes a credible array of facts to support him. But there are serious gaps in his evidence- as serious as the gaps in our knowledge of Shakespeare's life. Was Sir Thomas Walsingham so involved emotionally with Marlowe that he would have risked harboring him, faking the assassination scene, carrying through a deception that ran a lifetime? What of Shakespeare's willingness to assume the mantel and run the risk to his profession on the stage? Would Marlowe have succeeded in keeping his identity dark; were the veiled allusions, so carefully gleaned and explained, as recognizable as they would seem to have been to contemporaries in the know? And can Hoffman completely ignore the factors in the social mores of the times that did go far to support the belief of the majority that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare's plays and poems? This is yet another -- and a more colorful theory -- in the never ending battle to prove yet another candidate for honors- a battle that has continued for some 300 years.

Pub Date: May 23, 1955

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Messner

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1955