John Carey reviews James Shapiro’s new book in London’s The Sunday Times, dated March 21, 2010: “Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro — A devastatingly funny look at the many attempts to reveal who “really” wrote Shakespeare’s works”.
The Baconian and Oxonian allegations, if true, would have entailed a huge cover-up, and modern willingness to believe that it really happened is cognate with the belief that Princess Di was murdered or that the moon landings were fake. They all stem from the conviction that governments are corrupt and secretive and that we are kept from the truth. Conspiracy theorists are prone to resist rational argument, regarding it as a tool of the authority that they distrust. So Shapiro’s book is unlikely to cut much ice with Oxonians. All the same, it deserves to. It is authoritative, lucid and devastatingly funny, and its brief concluding statement of the case for Shakespeare is masterly.
By Oxonian, Carey means those who like Oxford as Shakespeare. I think this is a new use of the noun. Previously one had to live in Oxford, or to attend or to have attended Oxford University to be so designated. I don’t think it’s a good use; too confusing.