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Customer Review

on May 4, 2013
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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