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Shakespeare Suppressed: The Uncensored Truth About Shakespeare and His Works Paperback – 1 Sep 2011
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About the Author
An independent scholar, Katherine Chiljan (BA History, UCLA) has studied the authorship question for 26 years. Former editor of Shakespeare-Oxford Society Newsletter. Debated the topic with English professors at the Smithsonian Institution.
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In disentangling fact from customary truth about who wrote Shakespeare––custom being a poor second to actual evidence about the greatest writer in English––the author has delivered enlightening conclusions which she considered and supported with a lifetime of study.
The depth and comprehensibility of the book impressed me as much as the passionate but restrained style with which it was written. Katherine Chiljan, while not an academic, well could and may yet be in future. She has the historian's temperament, never exceeding the available evidence. Unlike any other book in this genre, her last section is "Conjectures and Dares", where she deals with the iffy information and does not draw rigid conclusions, only challenges the reader and the Academy to think. That level of integrity is no slight matter.
I would recommend her study to the curious beginner and the professional scholar. All of us have much to learn in this field. It is unconscionable that the supreme literary talent of the English culture has been warped to coincide with a completely unartistic and penurious personality, who never displayed a single interest in thought or art and who never left a single written line. As Emerson wrote, it is "the first of all literary questions".
Now there is a large body of work on DeVere, about 200 books on Amazon, yet almost no books of his poetry. I read as much as I could of Anderson's book Shakespeare by another name, and found it annoying, because he clearly has difficulty distinguishing between fact and fantasy. If one does not have a good understanding of facts, it's easy to get carried away with fantasy.
Mostly, the arguments are metaphorical, and based on analogy and parallel, not on tying respective bodies of work together.
eg Hamlet killed a servant. Devere killed a servant. Therefore Devere wrote Hamlet. If one reads the source story of Hamlet, Amleth, by Saxo Grammaticus, which predates Devere's existence by several hundred years Amleth kills a servant, rendering this parallel irrelevant. Anderson also claims DeVere based Desdemona, and Juliet on his wife. So the wife he hated and refused to live with is the basis for the teenage Juliet.
As weak as the facts are supporting Shakespeare's authorship, the authorship on DeVere will not replace it, because you cannot replace a weak set of facts with something even weaker.
I browsed through Chiljan's book several times on the bookstore, reluctant after the Anderson experience but each time gleaning something new, interesting, and factual, decided to buy it.
Her interest is not in proving DeVere wrote Shakespeare, but proving whether Shakespeare did. As a historian she knows what a fact is, and refers to the great writer, rather than naming DeVere. This made reading the book more palatable.
I found her scholarship and research to be in depth, and detailed. She uncovers several examples of digs at Shakespeare's learning in various plays, and even how he was satirised by other playwrights in their plays, particuarly Jonson. She also includes quotes that are before their time.
In my view, she makes some incorrect interpretations of certain events. There are other equally plausible or better explanations. She does however address the correct issues. Ultimately, her excellent chapter on the First Folio fraud made me decide to buy the book.
If you buy a mainstream book, by say Shapiro, Greenblatt, Wells, or Bevington, who all publish editions of the complete works of Shakespeare, you will discover very little information indicating for example that many plays were first published anonymously. In fact you may read misleading statements such as Shakespeare's name appears on 37 first editions, which is simply not true.
That is why this book is so useful, because it offers a different perspective, and is one of the better books on the authorship subject. If you are thinking about buying Anderson's get this instead. If you're like me you appreciate that you get what you pay for, and this book is infinitely better than Anderson's book, which I regret buying.
Shakespeare Suppressed presupposes that certain information about Shakespeare is kept hidden. I find some truth in this. When you hold a belief, you automatically, discount, negate or ignore anything to the contrary. In addition beliefs essentially have a life of their own, and constantly looking to prove themselves. Aha, that confirms it. In so doing, intentionally or not, the truth if is different does get suppressed.
That is why we need sceptical authors such as Chiljan to broaden the discussion.
Another book I recommend is Who Wrote Shakespeare?, which sets out the case for numerous candidates for authorship without taking sides. It presents the DeVere case very well. I think this book does have literary merit, and i will be reading this as a reference while my Greenblatt book stays on the shelf.
I think you will enjoy it, and I hope this was helpful.
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Supporters of the traditional Shakespeare orthodoxy often claim that the Shakespeare-doubting started relatively recently. However, Ms Chiljan documents case after case of Elizabethan authors who referred to the shroud of mystery surrounding their "best" poet and playwright, often implying his noble status and need for anonymity, as well as case after case of authors writing about a man of simple wit who was benefiting from, or outright stealing, a great writer's work. Coincidence? Maybe, but when the characters described in print are referred to as "Willy" and "W.S."! Among the literary and theatrical world, it seems EVERYone knew about the mix-up between the nobleman using the pseudonym of "Will Shake-Spear" and the illiterate bumpkin from the countryside, who simply owned shares in the Globe and was perhaps a financier (money-lender) and play broker.
The book also proposes a very plausible theory about who was behind the misdirection that led to today's misunderstanding of who was really whom. The cover-up, not hard to enforce in the totalitarian Elizabethan/Jacobean world, where the crown ruled with an iron-fist (and hired a guy who chopped people's heads off at the drop of a hat), and where those in the know at court were relatively few, combined with the mores of the court, which respected the anonymity desired by nobles who wrote, evolved not from a literary but a political necessity.
This book is well-detailed and documented, and the argument is logical and well-supported by the facts. There are more facts than surmise here, with footnotes galore. I think anyone with an open mind will be quite convinced that the great writer Shake-speare was not the Stratford man.
Lastly, there are often ad hominem attacks on those who wish to give the true Shakespeare his due, including stating that most of us are not academics or scholars, and therefore we are unfit to give a true assessment of the Shakespeare question. So, in addition to citing Ms Chiljan's excellent credits - a BA in history from UCLA - I am forced to add that I am a university professor and professional actor, director and playwright, holding degrees in English Literature (USC) and Theatre (USC, Brooklyn College, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art Marymount Programme). And I am not interested in addressing comments about my comments. Thank you.
Ms. Chiljan thoroughly and meticulously examines- and systematically demolishes- the traditional attribution of the works of the great author Shakespeare to the man from Stratford, William Shakspere. The book does not put forward the case for the particular person or persons behind the plays and poems, but it is very important to understand first why the works were cloaked in anonymity to begin with and why such a fraud was perpetrated for decades thereafter (and ultimately accepted without question by academia).
Read this and prepare to question all you have been taught by supposed "Shakespeare" scholars.
The historiographic vacuum at the center of our English literary pantheon has changed considerably in recent years. The Stratford "Shakespeare" story has always been more legend than history. But the quality of the new scholarship by mainly amateur literary historians remains uneven. Except for 'The Shakespeare Guide to Italy' by Richard Paul Roe and 'Shakespeare by Another Name' by Mark Anderson, commercial publishers have not taken a chance on non-academic authorship books. This volume is the most reliable and thorough monograph on the literary identity Ralph Waldo Emerson said was "the first of all literary questions".
Katherine Chiljan uncovers the truth, beyond reasonable doubt, that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote, concealed, and then was blackmailed to relinquish his right as author of the familiar, striking, and eloquent creations known to us as "Shakespeare". It is the work of a lifetime.
The usual dismissive canards--that Oxfordian research is unconventional, the sourcing unreliable, the premises not factually based--cannot succeed against this sometimes astoundingly erudite body of scholarship. The arguments are measured. The index is excellent. The illustrations and overall published quality exceed that of the major houses.
There is a final section entitled 'Conjectures and Dares' that considers the less extensive but still relevant evidence. The author's sense of caution and objectivity differentiates 'Shakespeare Suppressed' from more speculatively inclined works in the field. Among the latter category, we must include virtually all of Stradfordian biographical studies as the most embarrassing examples. They proceed from a fierce inclination to endorse the legend and therefore stake their credence on the power of customary, rather than verifiable, truth.
There are several appendices. The most consequential presents ninety-three instances of contemporaneous proof that the plays' distinctive language had currency in the Elizabethan culture far too soon for the later-dated Stratford Shakspere play chronology--an average of twelve to fourteen years sooner. This evidence invalidates Shakspere as author on grounds of his being a child when the first plays, later to be known as Shakespearean, appeared at the royal court.
The book's cover painting is of Oxford (1581) a few years after he had returned from Italy, with the inspiration that, give him his motley [clown suit] and he would cleanse the foul body of the diseased world. He would educate his people toward justice and harmony, the earthly glories of God, using his pen as a spear and the stage as the field of contest. Chiljan saw the painting in an auction catalogue, bought it, and thus took custody of an early life portrait of the writer some call the greatest in recorded history.
I recommend 'Shakespeare Suppressed' very highly, but not to read hastily. It is too good a story, one that gives us, at long last, the Shakespearean canon in its actual historical, political, and personally tragic frame.