I am haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practised on a patient world' - Henry James, 1903. For centuries, scholars have debated the true identity of the author of the poems and plays attributed to William Shakespeare. Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Charles Dickens, John Gielgud, and Derek Jacobi, among others, have cast irresolvable doubt on the Stratford man and proposed alternatives from rival playwrights Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe to Queen Elizabeth I. Why ...
I am haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practised on a patient world' - Henry James, 1903. For centuries, scholars have debated the true identity of the author of the poems and plays attributed to William Shakespeare. Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Charles Dickens, John Gielgud, and Derek Jacobi, among others, have cast irresolvable doubt on the Stratford man and proposed alternatives from rival playwrights Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe to Queen Elizabeth I. Why did Shakespeare leave behind not a single work in his own hand? Is it possible that the Stratford man - who had a grammar school education at best - possessed the depth of knowledge reflected in the work? Was there a single man in the English theatre who knew the etiquette of the nobility, the workings of the law, and the tactics of the military and navy? So, Fields asks in his tantalising conclusion, was this actually a magnificent collaboration between two men, a partnership protected for centuries by the greatest conspiracy in literary history? Blending biography and historical investigation with vibrant scholarship and storytelling, "Players" revolutionises our understanding of the greatest writer - or writers - in our history.
Bertram Fields brings up many questions in his book "Players, The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare", all based on the basic idea that William Shakespeare could have been a public persona of the collaboration of two separate men.
The book makes a strong case for a conspiracy, considering what we know about William Shakesper from Stratford, the man many believe is the writer of the plays by William Shakespeare.
The ultimate question to answer is: if there was a single simply-educated man from Stratford serving as the front man for other writers to produce plays and publish poems under the name William Shakespeare, what was to be gained?
Fields proposes that the man from Stratford originally named Shakesper, moved to London and possibly collaborated with another man, or possibly several other men, to write and produce the plays, and sonnets attributed to the bard of Avon.
In "Players", Fields consistently focuses on his premise that the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare could have been a separate individual from William Shakesper from Stratford.
Fields brings into play an array of possibilities about the politics of the day and the need for a secret service to control the publishing and theatre activities.
The author takes us down many avenues of speculation evidenced by well-established research only to reach a dead end.
In more than one instance Fields concludes by stating that if there was another man writing the plays and a different man taking credit, there is not hard evidence, only curios facts.
Ultimately "Players, The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare" is a mystery story predicated on the fact that a seemingly undereducated man from the country could never have moved to London and penned some of the greatest literature in history.
The evidence is weighty. Coming from Fields' background as an attorney is a clear support of his argument.
He forms conclusions based on the available facts but also establishes the historical and political atmosphere of England of the period and how this may have determined why a single man from Stratford was utilized to front the rich volume of writing of William Shakespeare.
The main issue is the discrepancy between the Stratford man's education and the genius-level output of the writer William Shakespeare.
Fields also brings to light the various spellings of the writer.
In many cases there are different published versions of the name ranging from Shaksper, to Shakesper, to Shaxberd, to Shakes-speare.
Fields proposes that the Stratford man was a front for some other man or group desiring to produce plays but wanting to avoid credit for the texts possibly to avoid religious backlash, but more so to create a particular slant on the political leadership of the day.
The overwhelming fact that Fields cannot come to terms with is that the output from William Shakespeare is beyond genius level.
Regardless of who actually posed as Shakespeare, the published plays, and poems are the product far ahead of the time in which they were produced.
Fields discusses the money that has been generated from all the tourists visiting Stratford, and argues with a lawyer's sensibility, but this seems secondary to his real concern about the playwright's true identity.
Many questions such as: why couldn't the man from Stratford write with a steady hand, and with his grade school education how could he read in Greek, Latin, French and Italian and write over 30 plays... without a computer?!
The output of the writing is astounding given the general way that people were living in the day.
What is more astounding is the perceptual vision of the writer, and the fact that he was writing at a level and with a larger vocabulary than anyone today.
Fields writes about the political pulls of the day and the possibility that a front man calling himself Shakespeare stood in for others who were writing either politically disturbing plays, or was a voice for the Catholic underground that were persecuted for their religious beliefs.
The author offers no real conclusion only raises new perspective on questions about these issues and the effect they may have had on the public as a form of mass communication of the day, publishing and live theatre.
Live Theatre had the power to reach out to large groups of people in very elusive ways, and this may have been the reason a single man calling himself Shakespeare may have been set up to accept credit for the plays and sonnets of the day.
As with TV and Film today, live theatre in the 16th Century was the most exciting artistic medium, having the ability to sway public opinion by showing fictional characters living lives similar to the audiences
The author looks at a various selection of other figures that may have penned material that William Shakespeare was taking credit for.
Fields names the usual suspects: Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford; Christopher Marlowe; Francis Bacon; William Stanley, Earl of Derby; Roger Manners, Earl of Rutland; and even Queen Elizabeth.
Fields' research is copious and seems to reveal questions in high relief rather than formulate any true conclusions to the identity of William Shakespeare.
"Players, The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare" is a great new addition to the growing group of Shakespeare conspiracy books written in a clear-headed and lucid manner.
Anyone interested in a new perspective on the subject will be please by Bertram Fields' book.
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