Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pearce on Shakespeare

I've had it from a good source (Thanks, Dave!) that Joseph Pearce's new book on Shakespeare is ready early and shipping now.

Since Joe will be speaking on this very topic at the annual Chesterton Conference, you'd be well prepared to read his book first.


  1. Could someone who has read the book tell me whether Mr. Pearce assumes throughout that the 'Stratford man' was the author of the plays, or whether he at least acknowledges the possibility that the plays were written by Edward de Vere (to name the most plausible claimant to their authorship)? Any attempt to relate the beliefs of the author to the text of the plays (as I gather this book does) clearly requires that the author be correctly identified.

  2. "I am not sure who it is who holds the cup or shield for this season as being the historical character who really wrote Shakespeare. I mean in that world of learned disputants who only agree on the first principle that Shakespeare could not write Shakespeare."
    -- G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News 13 Dec 1924

    "I am making a little list of all the things that are really better in England. Even a month on the Continent, combined with intelligence, will teach you that there are many things that are better abroad. ... But there are things entirely English and entirely good. Kippers, for instance ... Above all, there is the happy and holy custom of eating a heavy breakfast. I cannot imagine that Shakespeare began the day with rolls and coffee, like a Frenchman or a German. Surely he began with bacon or bloaters. In fact, a light bursts upon me; for the first time I see the real meaning of Mrs. Gallup and the Great Cipher. It is merely a mistake in the matter of a capital letter. I withdraw my objections; I accept everything; bacon did write Shakespeare."

    -- G. K. Chesterton, "The Riddle of the Ivy" in Tremendous Trifles

  3. I remember those passages, but neither one is an answer to my question. The second passage is a pun; the first is one of the rare occasions where Chesteron distorts his opponents' position. (No anti-Stratfordian that I know of denies the Stratford man's authorship as a 'first principle.' It's an inference from evidence. The inference may be a mistaken one, but it's a conclusion and not a starting-point.)

    In any event, my purpose isn't to introduce the authorship debate to this blog. I only seek information about Mr. Pearce's book, and hope that a reader of this blog might be able to provide it.

  4. Anon,
    The book's only just been published, and there aren't even any reviews on amazon.com (although there are several well-knowns who have endorsed it listed on amazon.com). So far, I've only heard of people anticipating its arrival, not that anyone had had the time to read it yet. Perhaps you could encourage your library to obtain a copy and then you could read it. We'd love to have your opinion of it--once read--here. Thanks.

  5. I know he has had some book signings locally last week (which I unfortunately could not attend) - so it's definitely available.

    I hope to pick up my own copy at the conference.

  6. A few months back i saw Mr. Pearce on an EWTN show (perhaps Journey Home) and a caller asked him about the authorship question but he completely brushed aside any possibility that someone other than the man named Shakespeare could have been the author. I remember this well since a year or so ago i had become somewhat interested in this for a while and after reading through various pros and cons for this person or that person i found the arguments for Francis Bacon as the actual author the most compelling...and so i was curious what take Mr. Pearce would have on it but apparently he wasn't very taken with any of it.


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