'Ay, There's the Rub'
Mark Anderson?s scholarly work is a tome of 598 pages, which posits that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the author of Shakespeare?s literary output, not the William Shakespeare who was the son of a tradesman in the market town of Stratford-upon-Avon. After 33 pages, accounted for by Roman numerals, the actual 11 chapters of the text consume only 358 pages. An epilogue, four appendices, an author?s note, frequently cited sources, notes of 157 pages, acknowledgements, and an index account for the remaining 240 pages. Considering that the author spent more than a decade on his exposition, the reader should expect no less than this massive polemic. De Vere, Anderson contends, has become known to posterity as ?William Shakespeare.?
Furthermore, it is a skeleton key to Shakespeare?s characters and plot development with insight into the Bard?s sonnets. The author begins where most Shakespearean annotators end. His opus should definitely appeal to Shakespearean aficionados and English history buffs, especially those concentrating on the Elizabethan Age with all the sexual, religious, and political intrigue of Queen Elizabeth?s royal court. Since 1920, serious questions have been raised about the authorship of Shakespeare?s works. For many years the two major adversaries, one claiming the tradesman?s son, the other de Vere as the author, have presented their cases -- the Stratfordians and the Oxfordians. The present work sides with the latter. While Stratford-upon-Avon will most assuredly continue to reap the tourist trade, Anderson does make a quite strong case for the Oxfordians. But on the side of the Stratfordians, we can employ that memorable line from the movie, ?The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,? as delivered by the journalist near the end of the film, ?This is the west, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.? Or as the Immortal Bard would have Hamlet say, ?Ay, there?s the rub.?