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Customer Review

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing intrigue, 16 Feb. 2005
This review is from: History Play: The Lives and After-life of Christopher Marlowe (Hardcover)
Being an ardent Stratfordian but also fascinated with the legend that has built up around Marlowe, History Play seemed like a good read. It is a very good book, looking at things from a different angle, but it should be borne in mind that Rodney Bolt hasn't created a new case for the anti-Strats; he's written a novel with some historical facts thrown in (as he clearly states himself in the afterword). This is not a criticism - quite the opposite, since it does make you challenge what you think you know about the authorship debate. Even I started to doubt some of my beliefs.
It's clear that Bolt is biased, which obviously colours the book somewhat, but then Shakespeare biographies are often likewise on a slight bias, so I'm not judging this. I sometimes found it hard to stomach the harsh criticism levelled at Shakespeare, but it is after all mostly a work of conjecture so I managed to keep my cool! The book is a great read; more so because you don't know where it will turn next. There are many facts you will no doubt recognise and which add to the authentic feel you get while reading it (it doesn't always feel like you're reading fiction. You may have to keep reminding yourself!). Bolt's notes at the back go through the book chapter by chapter stating clearly what is fact (and if so where it comes from) and what he has invented.
On whichever side of the authorship debate you stand, I'm sure you will enjoy reading History Play. It's an admirable piece of work. And as T. S. Eliot said, "About anyone so great as Shakespeare it is probable that we can never be right; and if we can never be right, it is better that we should from time to time change our way of being wrong."
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