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Clare Asquith’s Shadowplay (2005) argued from cryptic literary evidence that Shakespeare was a Catholic, necessarily clandestine during his era, when to be so entailed huge fines, arrest, and even execution. Eschewing Asquith’s method (merely pointing out a pun in the occasional sonnet), Pearce also concludes that Shakespeare was a Catholic and, indeed, that one must be prejudiced to insist otherwise. The evidence he cites shows that John Shakespeare’s will was based on a Catholic model; that John and son William each left bequests and executorship to Catholics; that Shakespeare’s daughters were named out of the Apocrypha (biblical writings by Catholic, but not Protestant, lights); that Shakespeare bought property that benefited Catholics, including a longtime venue for clandestine masses; that he was married by a Catholic priest miles away from his home parish; and so on and so on. Pearce also argues that Shakespeare’s talent may have led the authorities to wink at his Catholicism, as they did with the gifted composer William Byrd. It helps Pearce that, as usual, he’s a delight to read. --Ray Olson
"Joseph Pearce writes piercingly brilliant books. This is one of them. He usually writes dramatic biographies. This is not one of them. It is not a biography and it is the least dramatic book he has written. But it is also the most important one. To see its importance, try the following thought-experiment. Imagine a book that convincingly proved that Homer was a Jew, or that Milton was a lapsed Catholic, or that Dante was a proto-Protestant. The idea would have far-ranging consequences. It would cast a new light on everything we knew about Homer, or Milton, or Dante. In his next book Pearce will trace the consequences of Shakespeare's Catholicism in his plays. In this book, he proves it historically. I mean proves it. (Pearce would make a formidable lawyer.) The evidence is simply overwhelming." ---Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., Boston College, Author, Summa of the Summa
"I've long suspected that there was a deep Catholic sensibility in the plays of Shakespeare an emphasis on man's powerlessness without grace, yet also an openness to the sacramentality of nature, and to the energetic work of dutiful yet often mistrusted or despised servants. Pearce shows that Shakespeare himself was such a dutiful servant, ever dutiful to the Queen, but to God first. He does not leap to conclusions, but builds a case that is meticulous, reasonable, and convincing." ---Anthony Esolen, Ph.D., Providence College Professor of Renaissance English
"Joseph Pearce has brought together here a mass of material on the vexed question as to Shakespeare's religious affiliation a question which scholars have traditionally tried sedulously to ignore. But it is a question of more than merely neutral historic curiosity. Readers, I feel sure, will be quickly drawn in to the matter. Once again, we owe Mr. Pearce a great debt." ---Thomas Howard, Ph.D. Author, Dove Descending: T. S. Eliot s Four Quartets
Another of Joseph Pearce's thought-provoking volumes.
I look forward to reacquainting myself with Shakespeare.
Excellent; not only great research and compilement of material but a good read. The guy can write.Published 4 months ago by Yolande Suzin
A valuable set of insights into the genius of Shakespeare.Published 5 months ago by EdJoanne Hollatz
Mr. Pearce has given all lovers of Shakespeare some solid food for thought in this thorough case for the bard's Catholic faith and convictions. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Stratiotes Doxha Theon
I loved this book. Very well researched and extremely interesting. It gave me the desire to read Shakespeare with an eye towards his Catholic roots.Published 11 months ago by David W Eickbusch
I couldn't put this book down. Like the author, I did not believe the premise of the book at first. Like the author, I was convinced by the mountain of evidence. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Happy-and-lucky
If there is a downside to this book it is that so much evidence has been assembled and presented that it can get a bit tedious. Read morePublished 15 months ago by John Redmond
I recently read Joseph Pearse's book on J.R.R. Tolkien and decided to check out some of his other work. I started with this one. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mark Anderson
Although originaly a skeptic, the evidence is strong enough to sway me. A must read for any lover of theater and history.Published 20 months ago by guti9211