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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2005

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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