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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oxford professors bust Shakespeare myths, 25 April 2013
By 
Annie Martirosyan "Annie" (Armenia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 30 Great Myths About Shakespeare (Paperback)
The authors discuss some really burning issues like the autobiographical reading of the Sonnets, the anti-Stratfordian implications that follow the statement that Shakespeare never travelled, Shakespeare's religion, the association of Hamlet with Shakespeare's son Hamnet, the speculations of a modern Shakespeare writing for Hollywood. Every myth is as comprehensive as open-ended and in conclusion gives food for thought in form of rhetorical questions or reflective statements.

In the discussion of the myth that we do not know much about Shakespeare's life, Maguire and Smith nicely draw a parallel between Shakespeare and his contemporaries. This myth has long been toned down by evidence that we do know more about Shakespeare than other Elizabethan playwrights (see David and Ben Crystal's The Shakespeare Miscellany). Maguire and Smith are very convincing in pointing out that people keep on reiterating this myth because whatever we know about Shakespeare does not tell us anything about his personality.

The authors also discuss the Macbeth jinx in theatre and how a late 19th century hoax claiming once Shakespeare had to take over the role of Lady Macbeth when the boy player died, generated a superstition around the "Scottish play" that is continuing to be popularly and self-consciously observed.
This is a good book by trustworthy Shakespeareans. Not very reader-friendly in style but very comprehensive, well-grounded, objective and informed.

The last myth on the authorship question is as fine and comprehensive an essay as could fit in 2500 words to explain how very impossible it is that anyone but Shakespeare could have written his works. The valid arguments here are drawn from other topics discussed in the book, like Shakespeare's education, travel, timelessness, life and lifetime popularity.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely fascinating. So glad I bought it., 1 Aug 2013
By 
J. P. Richards "JPR" (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 30 Great Myths About Shakespeare (Paperback)
As a tutor of English, Billy Boy especially, I thought I knew it all. How wrong I was. I recommend this to all teachers and students of English literature.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 5 May 2013
By 
Gail M. Whyte (Bathgate, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 30 Great Myths About Shakespeare (Paperback)
Fascinating look at the stories that have grown up about Shakespeare. Informative for both experts and newcomers to Shakespeare. Great!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The ladies protesteth not enough, 4 May 2013
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This review is from: 30 Great Myths About Shakespeare (Paperback)
An enjoyable, if limited, romp through thirty diverse "issues" that are commonly raised when Shakespeare's name is spoken. "Myth" is used in a rather loose sense, the difficulty being that any term like myth (or "issues"!) is bound to be problematic. There could have been more tales and there could have been less. Thirty will do.
It is difficult to define the audience for this book as it must have been in pitching the level of its content between the academic and those who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise. Those who know even a smidgen about Shakespeare are well accustomed, when the man's name arises, to be goaded by assertions that he was a plagiarist, a poof, a papist, a fraud, a misogynist, a poacher, a peasant, a profiteer, a genius, a fornicator, a miser, or an all-round great guy.
All we really know is that he was human, with the attributes associated with the species.This is the thrust to be extracted from this book.
There's a move afoot - not before time some might say - by the "Stratfordians" to kick some ass, having put up with the outrageous slings and arrows of the "anti-Stratfordians" for far too long. This little book appears to be in the former camp. Written by two respected academics in the field it's a lightweight welcome addition to the fray.
Personally, I'd like to see Maguire and Smith champion the cause to the uttermost and go full tilt for a heavyweight tome on this general topic of what's bin did and what's been hid about Shakespeare.
Meanwhile, when some dinner-party neighbour smugly asserts through folded arms before the dessert "Shakespeare didn't write those plays, you know" I'll respond with my usual counter, "Really! How very interesting. You know, you should really write a book about that" while recommending having a look at this one. It'll do nicely.
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30 Great Myths About Shakespeare
30 Great Myths About Shakespeare by Emma Smith (Paperback - 14 Dec 2012)
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