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James Shapiro : Shakespeare & America

Lawrence Gerald

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The pitch is enticing on the link.

Jacke talks to Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro about his latest book, Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future, which looks at eight contentious periods in American history to see how Shakespeare plays and performances illuminated the concerns of each era.

The first review is by an Oxie who's name is familiar. 😉

Richard M. Waugaman, M.D.

a day ago

Where to begin? Well, how about with a compliment? Excellent interview; I learned a lot.
I hasten to add, however, that James Shapiro is a disgrace to the community of scholars. He is absolutely closed-minded on a subject he knows little about--who was the real Shakespeare? He is disgustingly insulting to people who know far more about that topic than he does...


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I read Shapiro's Shakespeare and the Jews recently. It was reissued from 1997 in 2016. He is a true scholar. Compared to journalist Winkler's book, his Contested Will is far better. Unlike Winkler, he gives equal time to the Baconian and Oxfordian histories. And he makes reference to SirBacon.org as well as to Brian McClinton's book, The Shakespeare Conspiracy: 400 Years of Myth and Deceit. In contrast, Winkler somehow manages to allude to Barry Clarke's 2019 book, Francis Bacon's Contribution to Shakespeare, without mentioning his name. Shapiro says interesting things like, just about the only kind of writing Bacon did not try his hand at was playwriting. He plainly states he believes the Stratford man wrote Shakespeare, but he is entitled to his opinion.

He gives the full story on Delia in Contested Will. It is tragic how Putnam's backed out on their contract to publish her manuscript in four installments, after only publishing the first installment. Her manuscript was entrusted to Emerson's care and it disappeared. There was no copy. She had to rewrite the whole book. I thought Shapiro's portrayal of Delia was sensitive and fair. 

I know he does not address our evidence in the depth we would like. I have found his book, Contested Will, to be useful, though, I would have to say. 


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