Monday, January 30, 2017

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro and narrated by Wanda McCaddon on compact disc.

Ugh, the audio production/quality of this audiobook wasn't very good, which is unfortunate!! However, I did think that Wanda McCaddon was a good narrator.

As far as James Shapiro's writing/book goes, I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information provided in this book. I am not a William Shakespeare scholar and have only read a few of his plays during my high school and college years as required for English classes. Before reading Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro, I'd only vaguely heard that some people speculated whether Shakespeare actually wrote his plays, but that was all I really knew about the subject until listening to this audiobook. Approximately, the first 80% of Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro focuses on the history of those that believe Shakespeare didn't write his plays or sonnets, while the remainder of the book focuses on why the author feels that Shakespeare wrote his plays and sonnets.

Between the bad audio quality and being overwhelmed by the amount of information provided in Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro, I found myself tuning out frequently and only listening in spurts at the parts that captured my interest.

I feel like James Shapiro has a vast knowledge regarding the subject of William Shakespeare and the authorship of his plays. But the audio quality of the audiobook was definitely a downer for me. In this case, I would have very much preferred to read Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? myself verses being read to.

I liked learning more about the authorship controversy of William Shakespeare's plays. BUT, as I mentioned above, I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of information provided as I am new to this particular topic. There was just so much food for thought to take in and digest. I think if you are a Shakespeare enthusiast, then by all means this book is probably for you!

Below is a summary for Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro from Amazon:
For more than two hundred years after William Shakespeare's death, no one doubted that he had written his plays. Since then, however, dozens of candidates have been proposed for the authorship of what is generally agreed to be the finest body of work by a writer in the English language. In this remarkable book, Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro explains when and why so many people began to question whether Shakespeare wrote his plays. Among the doubters have been such writers and thinkers as Sigmund Freud, Henry James, Mark Twain, and Helen Keller. It is a fascinating story, replete with forgeries, deception, false claimants, ciphers and codes, conspiracy theories—and a stunning failure to grasp the power of the imagination.

As Contested Will makes clear, much more than proper attribution of Shakespeare’s plays is at stake in this authorship controversy. Underlying the arguments over whether Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, or the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare’s plays are fundamental questions about literary genius, specifically about the relationship of life and art. Are the plays (and poems) of Shakespeare a sort of hidden autobiography? Do Hamlet, Macbeth, and the other great plays somehow reveal who wrote them?

Shapiro is the first Shakespeare scholar to examine the authorship controversy and its history in this way, explaining what it means, why it matters, and how it has persisted despite abundant evidence that William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the plays attributed to him. This is a brilliant historical investigation that will delight anyone interested in Shakespeare and the literary imagination.
In the end, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro just didn't do it for me in terms of interest. I'm not going to remember much about this book over the long haul. With that said, I am giving Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

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