Sunday, January 9, 2011

Book news: Shapiro, Twain, Gilvary

James Shapiro's Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, a Stratfordian view of the Shakespeare authorship question has been included in several best-books-of-2010 lists, and the just released (Jan. 6, 2011) UK paperback edition is #11 on the Amazon.co.uk history and criticism bestseller list and is #801 overall on the Amazon UK bestselling books list. The US paperback edition is scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster on April 19, 2011. Although Shapiro argues for reliance on the traditional Stratfordian attibution of Shakespeare's works, the success of Contested Will is good news for those who wish to see the Shakespeare authorship question brought into wider discussion.

The University of California Press new edition of the Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 published Nov. 15, 2010 is #21 on the Amazon bestseller ranking of books. Although Twain was a notorious Shakespeare authorship skeptic, his hilarious commentary, Is Shakespeare Dead? From My Autobiography by Mark Twain is not included in this new volume. Query regarding the publisher's future intent with respect to "Is Shakespeare Dead?" has gone unanswered. For those who wish to investigate Twain's works and correspondence, the Mark Twain Project Online -- hosted by the University of California Berkeley's Library Systems Office -- is a trove of information.

Is Shakespeare Dead? From My Autobiography by Mark Twain is available in several published editions such as the 2010 Kessinger Publishing Legacy Reprint edition, and several online versions including a version from The Literature Network. A 95-cent Kindle edition of the 2010 General Books Club edition is available to download from Amazon.com. Here is a quote from Chapter 13 of Twain's anti-Stratfordian screed:
Shakespeare had no prominence while he lived, and none until he had been dead two or three generations. The Plays enjoyed high fame from the beginning; and if he wrote them it seems a pity the world did not find it out. He ought to have explained that he was the author, and not merely a nom de plume for another man to hide behind. If he had been less intemperately solicitous about his bones, and more solicitous about his Works, it would have been better for his good name, and a kindness to us.

DeVere Society Website Editor Jeremy Crick recently sent news of the society's publication of their long-awaited research on the dating of Shakespeare's plays, Dating Shakespeare's Plays: A Critical Review of the Evidence edited by Kevin Gilvary (Parapress, Nov. 2010). The society says of Dating Shakespeare's Plays:
This critical review of the evidence challenges the orthodox scholarly consensus about the order in which Shakespeare composed his plays and when they were written. It reveals surprising discrepancies in date comparisions. King John has been placed by scholars in every year of the decade up to 1598 and there are suggestions that Hamlet’s date of 1602 could be put back to 1589
In this authoritative book, evidence is reviewed methodically to produce a range of dates, supported by in-depth analysis of aids to dating such as language, historical allusion the testimony of title pages, as well as works by other authors including Palladis Tamia and the Stationers’ Register.
In considering Oxfordian dates, the intention is not to prove the Earl of Oxford was the author but to demonstrate the possibility of a range of earlier dates for each of the 36 plays in the First Folio, and four other plays which have been attributed to Shakespeare.
Kevin Gilvary has a BA and MA from the University of Southampton and is currently a research student at Brunel University. He has taught in Canada, South America, and Hampshire.

The publication may be ordered online from Parapress at: http://www.parapress.co.uk/books/dating_shakespeares_plays.html

UPDATE April 6, 2011: Read William Niederkorn's review of Dating Shakespeare's Plays, "The Shakespeare Chronology Recalibrated" published in the April 2011 edition of The Brooklyn Rail.

Sources:
Is Shakespeare Dead/Online Literature, http://www.online-literature.com/twain/is-shakespeare-dead