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Shakespeare By Another Name

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

OXFORD, STEP FORTH!

Once a hobbyhorse for eccentrics, the debate over who really wrote Shakespeare has evolved rapidly into the Copernican revolution of literary history. Other claimants, like Francis Bacon, have faded, leaving as sole alternative Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxfor...
Once a hobbyhorse for eccentrics, the debate over who really wrote Shakespeare has evolved rapidly into the Copernican revolution of literary history. Other claimants, like Francis Bacon, have faded, leaving as sole alternative Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604), one of the most brilliant and complex figures of the Elizabethan world. Despite shelves of absurdly confident bios of the alleged author from Stratford, we still know very little about him. The last shred of evidence was unearthed in 1909, with nothing new since. There is no firm evidence that Stratford ever professed as a writer, and he left a poorly- written will with no mention of books, manuscripts, or literary rights. By contrast (and without necessarily taking sides), postwar Renaissance scholars have steadily amassed a mountain of hard biographical data on Oxford, once shadowy and unknown, to the point where insisting that Stratford created this corpus now looks decidedly more far-fetched than claiming Oxford did so. After Joseph Sobran¿s 1997 'Alias Shakespeare,' the best brief on the Oxford case, we needed a detailed biography of the man himself, and now we have it. Like Sobran, Mark Anderson is a journalist who undertook years of research outside academe. From him we get the fresh viewpoint of a smart, hard-working amateur. 'Shakespeare By Another Name' is one of the richest and best written Elizabethan biographies to appear in recent years. Born to a top feudal dynasty, Edward de Vere got one of the most brilliant educations in Renaissance England. Fluent in Latin and French before ten, Oxford became a grandee who knew everyone and went everywhere. Through 400 pages and extensive notes, Anderson shows how concretely these experiences were embedded in the plays and sonnets. Hamlet, for instance, is filled with allusions to Oxford¿s life. Orthodox scholars accept that Polonius lampooned Elizabeth¿s chief minister, who was also Oxford¿s foster father. Anderson details how Hamlet¿s bickering with Polonius incorporates phrasing from private letters between the author and his foster father, letters a rank-and-file actor from Stratford could not have seen. And the dating of the plays is largely baseless, crammed into the years we know Stratford acted in London. Thus, King Lear is dated 1605, even though theater manager and diarist Philip Henslowe enjoyed it in 1594! With Oxford as author, new layers of depth and meaning suddenly open: this courtier¿s world appears in his work as allegory or satire. Behind many characters we now see real people Oxford knew. So many unsolved problems of the 1623 Stratford attribution--a scam we now understand clearly--are solved at a stroke by restoring Oxford as author. For the Oxford Movement, Anderson¿s book is a big, beautifully wrought step forward. This movement aims to bring a titanic figure back from consigned oblivion--an act of supreme literary justice.

posted by Anonymous on August 10, 2006

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

A Waste of Paper

This book is a waste of paper and the time to read it. No stars would be my choice. Mark Anderson, who has no background in literature or theatre, repeats the same old same old that the Oxford crowd has been trying to get people to believe since 1920. At first...
This book is a waste of paper and the time to read it. No stars would be my choice. Mark Anderson, who has no background in literature or theatre, repeats the same old same old that the Oxford crowd has been trying to get people to believe since 1920. At first glance, Anderson's book looks impressive, but a closer look shows that it's a house of cards. Time and time again, Anderson's claims have been debunked. There are no links from Oxford to Shakespeare or to the Shakespeare canon.

posted by Anonymous on August 24, 2005

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2006

    OXFORD, STEP FORTH!

    Once a hobbyhorse for eccentrics, the debate over who really wrote Shakespeare has evolved rapidly into the Copernican revolution of literary history. Other claimants, like Francis Bacon, have faded, leaving as sole alternative Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604), one of the most brilliant and complex figures of the Elizabethan world. Despite shelves of absurdly confident bios of the alleged author from Stratford, we still know very little about him. The last shred of evidence was unearthed in 1909, with nothing new since. There is no firm evidence that Stratford ever professed as a writer, and he left a poorly- written will with no mention of books, manuscripts, or literary rights. By contrast (and without necessarily taking sides), postwar Renaissance scholars have steadily amassed a mountain of hard biographical data on Oxford, once shadowy and unknown, to the point where insisting that Stratford created this corpus now looks decidedly more far-fetched than claiming Oxford did so. After Joseph Sobran¿s 1997 'Alias Shakespeare,' the best brief on the Oxford case, we needed a detailed biography of the man himself, and now we have it. Like Sobran, Mark Anderson is a journalist who undertook years of research outside academe. From him we get the fresh viewpoint of a smart, hard-working amateur. 'Shakespeare By Another Name' is one of the richest and best written Elizabethan biographies to appear in recent years. Born to a top feudal dynasty, Edward de Vere got one of the most brilliant educations in Renaissance England. Fluent in Latin and French before ten, Oxford became a grandee who knew everyone and went everywhere. Through 400 pages and extensive notes, Anderson shows how concretely these experiences were embedded in the plays and sonnets. Hamlet, for instance, is filled with allusions to Oxford¿s life. Orthodox scholars accept that Polonius lampooned Elizabeth¿s chief minister, who was also Oxford¿s foster father. Anderson details how Hamlet¿s bickering with Polonius incorporates phrasing from private letters between the author and his foster father, letters a rank-and-file actor from Stratford could not have seen. And the dating of the plays is largely baseless, crammed into the years we know Stratford acted in London. Thus, King Lear is dated 1605, even though theater manager and diarist Philip Henslowe enjoyed it in 1594! With Oxford as author, new layers of depth and meaning suddenly open: this courtier¿s world appears in his work as allegory or satire. Behind many characters we now see real people Oxford knew. So many unsolved problems of the 1623 Stratford attribution--a scam we now understand clearly--are solved at a stroke by restoring Oxford as author. For the Oxford Movement, Anderson¿s book is a big, beautifully wrought step forward. This movement aims to bring a titanic figure back from consigned oblivion--an act of supreme literary justice.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2006

    OXFORD, STEP FORTH!

    Once a hobbyhorse for eccentrics, the debate over who really wrote Shakespeare has evolved rapidly into the Copernican revolution of literary history. Other claimants, like Francis Bacon, have faded, leaving as sole alternative Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604), one of the most brilliant and complex figures of the Elizabethan world. Despite shelves of absurdly confident bios of the alleged author from Stratford, we still know very little about him the last shred of evidence was unearthed in 1909, with nothing new since. There is no firm evidence that Stratford ever professed as a writer, and he left a poorly- written will with no mention of books, manuscripts, or literary rights. By contrast (and without necessarily taking sides), postwar Renaissance scholars have steadily amassed a mountain of hard biographical data on Oxford, once shadowy and unknown, to the point where insisting that Stratford created this corpus now looks decidedly more far-fetched than claiming Oxford did so. After Joseph Sobran's 1997 'Alias Shakespeare,' the best brief on the Oxford case, we needed a detailed biography of the man himself, and now we have it. Like Sobran, Mark Anderson is a journalist who undertook years of research outside academe from him we get the fresh viewpoint of a smart, hard-working amateur. 'Shakespeare By Another Name' is one of the richest and best written Elizabethan biographies to appear in recent years. Born to a top feudal dynasty, Edward de Vere got one of the most brilliant educations in Renaissance England. Fluent in Latin and French before ten, Oxford became a grandee who knew everyone and went everywhere. Through 400 pages and extensive notes, Anderson shows how concretely these experiences were embedded in the plays and sonnets. 'Hamlet,' for instance, is filled with allusions to Oxford's life. Orthodox scholars accept that Polonius lampooned Elizabeth's chief minister, who was also Oxford's foster father. Anderson details how Hamlet's bickering with Polonius incorporates phrasing from private letters between the author and his foster father, letters a rank-and-file actor from Stratford could not have seen. And the dating of the plays is largely baseless, crammed into the years we know Stratford acted in London. Thus, 'King Lear' is dated 1605, even though theater manager and diarist Philip Henslowe enjoyed it in 1594! With Oxford as author, new layers of depth and meaning suddenly open: this courtier's world appears in his work as allegory or satire behind many characters we see real people Oxford knew. So many unsolved problems of the 1623 Stratford attribution--a scam we now understand clearly--are solved at a stroke by restoring Oxford as author. For the Oxford Movement, Anderson's book is a big, beautifully wrought step forward. This movement aims to bring a titanic figure back from consigned oblivion--an act of supreme literary justice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2006

    Opens the Door to Shakespeare

    This was a great find! I have always liked reading Shakespeare, but i knew I never really understood it all. This book gives a significant amount of context and background to all of the plays and sonnets. Whether you believe the premise or not, this book sets each play and sonnet against the historical and cultural background snd current events that affect the play. If Oxford really was Shakespeare, the level of understanding and insight provided is truly remarkable.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2005

    Read this book!!!

    This is not 'yet another' attempt to revive some tired old conspiracy theory. This is a riveting, well researched, honest attempt to understand the authorship of the Shakespeare cannon. The thing that particularly strikes me is the number of reviews I have read of this book where the reviewer comes away convinced by Mr. Anderson's thesis but disappointed that their childhood view of Shakespeare must go the way of all the world. I feel no such sadness. De Vere is larger than life, complex, colorful. Sure he was an aristocrat, but he was so much more--as one might expect of someone who wrote the Shakespeare cannon.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2005

    New Biography illuminates the Elizabethan Age

    A friend of mine once said 'If you don't get Shakespeare right, you can't get the Elizabethan age right.' Mark Anderson's book about Edward de Vere, the man who wrote the Shakespeare canon, is a revelation. It shows in fascinating detail the life events and political processes that shaped the creation of the greatest literary works we have.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2005

    You Don't Have To Be A Shakespeare Scholar To Dig This Book

    A compelling mystery whose protagonist just happens to be the most important writer in the history of the English language. So what, you ask? The poems and plays exist and always will, so why should we care who wrote them? The answer has a lot to do with where you think artistic inspiration comes from. The conventional wisdom about Shakespeare - that an unschooled, untraveled working stiff was the real author - requires some pretty heavy suspension of disbelief. Was Shakespeare hit with a supernatural lightning bolt of genius, or did the works come out of a real person's experiences and hard work? If these questions interest you, read this book, then decide which theory better explains the facts at hand!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2005

    Literature's Greatest Mystery Finally Solved

    This may be the most important biography of the year. The clever hoax that associated the pen name of England¿s greatest dramatist¿Shakes-peare¿with a mean-spirited businessman in a provincial town has finally been exposed as a four-hundred-year fraud. The shaky structure of the orthodox Stratford theory has been sagging for years, and this detailed and comprehensive story of the real author should finally bring it down. If you¿ve ever wondered why Shakespeare, one of the most learned men in Renaissance England, never bothered to educate his daughters, or if you¿ve ever wondered why no one in Stratford-upon-Avon ever referred to their fellow-townsman as a writer, or if you¿ve ever wondered why no letter, book, manuscript, diary or notebook has ever been associated with Shaksper of Stratford, then this biography will give you the answer. Everything about Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford¿his background, his education, his early published poetry, his facility with languages, his familiarity with court life and politics, his three daughters, his year-long residence in Italy, supports his identification as the author of the Shakespeare canon. In play after play, Anderson demonstrates the connections between Edward de Vere¿s experiences and the events and characters that ¿Shakespeare¿ dramatizes. Every chapter reinforces the truism that what every serious writer produces springs from his own background, character, and environment. This is a book about the greatest literary mystery of all time, and it is the best biography yet of the greatest writer in the English language.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2005

    convincing, and an entertaining read!

    I recently read an advance copy of the book -- and came out thinking that Oxford may indeed be the man who was Shakespeare. Shakespeare by Another Name is also a great story of this man Edward de Vere whose life was like a period soap opera, full of intrigue, love, betrayal, travel, drama, backstabbing and banter. With a new understanding of the probable author of these plays, I feel I have a much better grasp of the stories behind the Shakespeare plays, of what makes the characters tick. And as an added bonus, Shakespeare's humor becomes much more poignant and accessible. You get more of the jokes!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2012

    Definitely a Must Read- You Won't Regret It!

    This is not just a book about the Shakespeare contraversy with a bit of info. Mark uses an enormous amount of specifics, backed up by his own research & others'. This definitely answered my questions of who's who in Elizabethan England. It also educated much more on the Shakespeare issue. It gets complicated, but it is well worth it. If you're into this kind of reading, it's a page turner. This is one of those few books I will never get rid of! Mark does a wonderful job in the way he writes, also. The foreword by Jacobi, in my opinion, adds much credibility to an already VERY credible book. A MUST READ.

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  • Posted February 17, 2012

    An excellent biography and a great read

    Mark Anderson's updated "Shakespeare" by Another Name is an immensely satisfying read. The already comprehensive 2005 version gave us a detailed look at the well-documented life of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, tying it smoothly to the works of Shakespeare. Anderson never insists, but his juxtaposition of specific events in Oxford's life with themes and characters in the plays and poetry is so persuasive in its accumulation of detail, the reader is inevitably drawn into the Oxfordian view. Anderson cannot be charged with hysteria, the easy attack on much Oxfordian theory; his tone is sensible, remarkably sane; his book is packed with documentary evidence; and his prose is wonderfully readable. In Anderson's hands, De Vere's life unfolds like a mystery, a logical backdrop to the events of Elizabethan politics as reflected in the history plays and elsewhere in the Shakespeare canon.

    In this new version, Anderson updates the reader on recent developments in Authorship Question research, starting with a succinct new introduction called "The Argument." Here, Anderson addresses Columbia University's James Shapiro's recent attempt to put a stop to all things Oxfordian in his 2010 Contested Will, quite magnanimous on Anderson's part, considering Shapiro has all but ignored "Shakespeare" by Another Name. Anderson has the good grace to simply refute Shapiro's argument point by point, rather than asking the good professor to do any additional reading. Anderson also includes an appendix about the recent film "Anonymous," applauding this first major mainstream depiction of Oxford as Shakespeare, despite the historical liberties taken in its depiction of both de Vere's life and Elizabethan history. Anderson provides helpful context for the film; in particular, he explains the "Prince Tudor" theory, an element of the Oxfordian view held by a minority of scholars, which contends that de Vere fathered a child with Queen Elizabeth, namely Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton. (Prince Tudor 2 theory, as it's known, further contends that de Vere himself is an illegitimate son of Elizabeth.) Without demonizing Prince Tudor theorists or denigrating the highly entertaining "Anonymous," Anderson points out the tenousness of these claims, and analyzes their source in the sonnets and dedications to Southampton of Shakespeare's two epic poems. Other new appendices on Shakespeare portraiture and the recent publication of Richard Roe's The Shakespeare Guide to Italy provide the most up-to-date information in the developing field of Oxfordian studies.

    Anderson's work is comprehensive, addictively readable, and a great romp through the life of a troubled genius. For lovers of Shakespeare's writings, it is extraordinarily satisfying to have the life of Edward de Vere as a lens through which to view the works anew. Even those who remain skeptical of the Oxford theory can benefit from Anderson's meticulous construction of the Elizabethan world of court politics as seen through de Vere's life. I look forward to new developments in Oxfordian theory, but will keep this book as a touchstone for all that is yet to be revealed about the man who wrote Shakespeare.

    Alice Knox Eaton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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