- Hardcover: 296 pages
- Publisher: Praeger (January 30, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 027598527X
- ISBN-13: 978-0275985271
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,605,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question
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"McCrea establishes conclusively that Shakespeare, the Stratford-born actor--not Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, or Marlowe, Bacon, or anyone else--did in fact compose the works attributed to him….Essential. All collections; all levels." - Choice
"McCrea's position on the authorship question is instantly clear: he refers to those who deny that Will Shakespeare of Stratford is the author of the sonnets and plays credited to him as heretic….McCrea examines all available biographical evidence about the Stratford Shakespeare. Because this evidence is scanty and does not prove or disprove Shakespeare's authorship, he supports his conclusions with ample quotes from primary materials and references to scholarly studies. Readers can judge for themselves whether to agree or disagree….Recommended for all libraries needing to balance out collections about the authorship question." - Library Journal
"This is the latest in an honourable line of books reaffirming Shakespeare's authorship….The Case for Shakespeare gives reliable and well argued accounts of both sides, bringing out the sleight of hand, specious logic, imaginary evidence, misdirection and above all subjective approaches that have spawned so many rival candidates." - Times Literary Supplement
"[This volume] is not only compellingly written but it also has an inviting, conversational tone that I found both appealing and suspenseful, convincing as scholarship and at the same time stimulating to read…. McCrea skillfully disarms the Oxfordian pretensions and, as he does so, illuminates the claim of Shakespeare to his rightful name." (Albert Bermel, author of Shakespeare at the Moment)
"Engagingly written, a nice informal anecdotal start…. The book accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish." (David Bevington, Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities, University of Chicago)
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He puts known facts in the context of Shakespeare's time to demonstrate the coherence of first person accounts which others dismiss without reason.
I've been a successful trial attorney for 40 years. I've earned my living since I was 24 years old by "proving" FACTS in a court of law. I am also a published author. I know what it takes to write creatively-whether by quill, by pen and paper, by a computer program, or by dictation [which I have years of experience doing].
Please be very, very clear on this one initial point. I have "no dog in this fight." I am not writing this comment to "prove" or "disprove" anything. I simply have NO personal "opinion" about who wrote these great works.
That is precisely why I bought this book. I wanted to read "the end of the authorship question" in favor of the Stradfordian theory of authorship. I wanted to believe what I was taught during my university education some 45 years ago, ie, that an actor from Stratford was in fact the "soul of the ages."
I was sorely disappointed. If you are seeking "the end of the authorship question" please do not buy this book under the false assumption that it will deliver on this promotional promise.
I don't fault the author for his "opinion." What I object to, and strongly so, is the author proclaiming his book to be "the end of the authorship question." This book is definitely NOT "the end of the authorship question." It is not, as Churchill once famously said, even "the beginning of the end" of the authorship question. The only question this book may "end" is that of the author's sef-arrogated right to pontificate on the Stratfordian theory of authorship as though it would be stupid for anyone today to even suggest there could have been another author.
His "proof" rests entirely on a assemblage of false or dubious assumptions, completely devoid of any hard factual corroboration. That is probably the point here. Nobody in the past 150 years has yet been able to uncover the hard evidence needed to prove, or disprove, the "question of authorship" so as to finally "end" it. If this book were a law case, it wouldn't survive the first "Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim," which is the easiest burden to meet in the law.
This author's "proof" is founded principally on the fact that a contemporary author, Ben Johnson, and 3 of the actor's contemporary actor colleagues, long after his death, publicly stated that the actor was the author of the sonnets, poems and plays attributed variously to "Shakespere" or "Shakes-peare" or "Shakespeare." Therefore, concludes the author, this fact alone is dispositive on the question of the actor's authorship. Any known facts that are inconsistent with the author's Stratfordian theory are dismissed as being mistakes or errors in the historical record. How convenient!
It would be just as easy, using this logical syllogism, to "prove" the existence extra-terresterial life. Proposition: people living in Roswell, New Mexico in the late 1940's publicly stated that extra-terresterial life forms exist or that they believed they exist. Conclusion: therefore extra-terresterial life forms have thereby been proven to exist by these contemporaneous proclamations.
None of these contemporaries recite any tangible evidence to support their "after-the-fact" attributions. None say, for example: 1) I personally saw, or even posses now or possessed in the past, a priceless manuscript in the actor's handwriting; or 2) I was the person or persons to whom the actor dictated these works so I know he was the author; or 3) the person to whom these works were dictated was "X" or "Y" who also affirms this attribution; or 4) I personally observed any act of authorship, such as actual writing or editing, performed by this actor.
Of course, it can be just as rightly argued that none of these men recited such proofs because no controversy existed at the time about the actor's authorship-despite the fact that a number of the early works they were attributing to the actor were published without any attribution whatever. Nevertheless, I am especially troubled by the author's failure to offer any plausible explanation as to why this actor failed to contemporaneously take public credit for any of these earlier anonymous works. It makes no logical sense for an actor, and a co-owner of a theater company [who was clearly interested in generating public attention to produce income], to anonymously publish ANY subsequent plays after the immediate public acclaim received by the first play performed.
However, I am equally troubled by the simplistic syllogism relied on to some degree or another by those who argue against the Stratfordian theory of authorship. Proposition: this actor was relatively uneducated. Conclusion: therefore, this actor could not have written these great works of genius.
In my experience, genius is born, not made. It's just as plausible, given the times during which these works were created, that the actor dictated his works so that the words sprung from his genius, not from his education or his ability to write or even his ability to sign or spell his name correctly-as the historical record clearly proves the actor could not do.
In the end, this book proves nothing. It settles nothing. It ends nothing on the authorship question.
In fact, the only question this book really "ends" is that, after the passage of some 450 years, nobody today can actually "prove" these great works were written by an actor from Stratford-or anybody else for that matter.
Working with the facts we know to be true, this space alien is going to have a hard time proving that any other person wrote the plays. McCrea is a professor of theater, and probably knows that only a person closely associated with the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later The King's Men, could have written the plays.
Kyd and Marlowe, the only two other playwrights who had his literary ability, died really young, and left the entire theatrical world to him. Of course, there were many other playwrights--Will only wrote about 2 plays a year, but the audiences were always demanding new plays, so his company bought plays written by other writers.
The authorship debate is a non-entity...William Shakespeare, a middle class guy, like all literary geniuses, wrote the plays. You can yell he didn't write the plays until you are blue in the face...sorry, he I believe, and just about every expert agrees, that he did...if anybody can come up with evidence/proof that he didn't, write a book then go to Sweden of Switzerland and pick up your Nobel Prize...I am not a scholar and have nothing to lose by Shakespeare being pushed off his throne...
Ben Jonson's "small Latin, and less Greek" is interesting in a certain context. According to Peter Alexander's Introduction to his Complete Works of Shakespeare:
"....he ignored the rules. The rules or law of the drama were generalizations from the practice of the Greek drama; and Renaissance critics and their eighteen century disciplines regarded plays that failed to conform to these laws as deficient in art. Shakespeare ignored the rules so constantly that his critics, however much they admired his natural powers, could not accept him as a great artist. This is still maintained by men of distinction in letters...it has passed away in European thought, and it survives only as a prejudice....."
`1. If De Vere, who attended Oxford and supposedly graduated young, and knew Greek and the Greek plays, it is most probably that he, like Jonson, would have followed the Greek rules of drama.
2. Once again, Shakespeare benefits from not going to Oxford or Cambridge. Latin yes, but Greek no. He did not follow the basic rules of drama, and made up his own rules, as he later did with language and versification. This is the kind of stuff you would expect from someone who had not been brainwashed by all the University teaching about how to write a play, Greek style. Will's writings drove Jonson crazy.