Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Review For Shakespeare

Could you tell I up and moved and, more importantly, haven't worked at the bookstore for a few weeks? Well, fear not, I've had a little time to do some bit of reading since I've been here (and the Percy Jackson Time Paradox should be ending soon as well, now that I'm back at a bookstore!).

This new review features the guy on your left: William Shakespeare himself (assuming that the assumption that the miniature featured on the cover is correct and it is indeed a portrait of The Bard) in The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome, by Joseph Pearce. I'd never really given much thought toward Billy's religious leanings. (I also spent most of my life (up until about 5 years ago) believing the children's biography of Bess that I have that says that she really didn't mind what religion people personally subscribed to, as long as they attended Anglican services from time to time) I mean, if you asked, I probably would have assumed that Bill was indeed an Anglican, given his high status and favor by the Queen. Then I read this book.

To begin with, because most of you probably shied away thinking 'oh, there the Catholics go again, trying to be important and claim everything for themselves', even if you go into and come out of reading this book convinced that Shakespeare was not a Catholic, this book is VERY WELL WRITTEN. Pearce is a literature man, not a history man and (sorry history) therefore is not dry like most historian writers tend to be, and is actually quite punny! The writing itself makes this book definitely worth the read!

Secondly, being a literature man, Pearce knows all about the "historicists, feminists, Marxists, new historicists, post-feminists, deconstructionists, anti-deconstructionsists, post-modernists, cultural imperialists, and post-colonialists", also, I'm fairy certain, the queer theorists and eco-critics (which is apparently the up and coming literary discipline. And people wonder why I prefer the history side of research.) He also chooses to ignore that in favor of a -ism/-ist/theory which is near and dear to my heart- examining the life of the author in order to find out what he wrote into his plays. (It is only the appendices that Pearce really picks through the lines of a play (King Lear) in order to make an argument.)

Pearce goes through bits of the evidence that we know about Billy's life finding evidence of his popery. Because there is so little evidence about his life, there is still much conjecture, but, as he quotes in one of the final chapters, "There are, in this life, some certanties, some probabilities and some possibilities." Pearce goes through the certanties to draw some (really quite convincing) probabilites, and mostly avoids the realm of possibilites unless he has at least three bits of evidence that point in the affirmative.

In conclusion, go read this book. Even if you don't care if Shakespeare was a papist, and especially if you firmly believe that he wasn't. I'm not arguing for the Pope. I'm arguing for history. And finally, read it because it's a good read. And you might even learn something!

1 comment:

irishshammrocks said...

I'll read it. Only if you lend it to me! After I finish reading about plagues before lunch! (Which I don't recommend!!!)