Since the real Shakespeare is no longer around to stand up, such arguments are difficult to resolve. Anderson makes a...



In which Shakespeare turns out to be Shake-speare, not Shakspere.

Young journalist Anderson revives a very old argument, most of it from silence, that the presumably illiterate William Shakspere (the actor) of Stratford couldn’t possibly have written the learned and wise work attributed to him as Shakespeare (the author). Article 1: There’s no record of Shakspere’s having signed up for school. Article 2: There’s no evidence that Shakspere got any farther than London. Article 3: Shakspere’s will mentions no books, though scholars have busied themselves for generations sussing out the books that Shakespeare drew on for inspiration and storylines. The problem with such arguments, as previous would-be debunkers have discovered, is that there’s no evidence that the actor didn’t attend school; there’s reason to think he fought as a soldier on the Continent; and he may well have disposed of his books before dying so as to get some much-needed cash into the estate. No matter: following Orson Welles’s lead, Anderson turns to the well-worn thesis that the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, had all the chops to be the real Shakespeare (pen name Shake-speare, with winking hyphen): he was brilliant, much traveled and splendid, but also noble—good reason to stay away from the tawdry life of the stage in Elizabethan England, which, at the time, was torn by enough religious strife and political intrigue to keep a fellow busy doing other things, making a front convenient. Anderson charges into literary-critical battle with an admirable lack of self-consciousness, offering inventive readings, including one of Hamlet as a vehicle for the heretical thoughts of the Italian monk Giordano Bruno. He is less convincing on other argumentative lines, such as whether The Tempest, long thought to draw on a 1609 account of a Bermuda shipwreck—that is, a book published several years after de Vere’s death—might have had some other basis.

Since the real Shakespeare is no longer around to stand up, such arguments are difficult to resolve. Anderson makes a spirited case, and even the staunchest anti–de Vere partisan will profit from hearing him out—though will likely remain unconvinced.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2005

ISBN: 1-592-40103-1

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Gotham Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2005

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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