Contested Will

  • by James Shapiro
  • Narrated by Wanda McCaddon
  • 11 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For nearly two centuries, the authorship of William Shakespeare's plays has been challenged by writers and artists as diverse as Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Henry James, Helen Keller, Orson Welles, Malcolm X, and Sir Derek Jacobi. How could a young man from rural Warwickshire, lacking a university education, write some of the greatest works in the English language? How do we explain the seemingly unbridgeable gap between Shakespeare's life and works?
Contested Will unravels the mystery of Shakespeare's authorship, retracing why and when doubts first arose, what's at stake in the controversy for how we value Shakespeare's achievement, and why, in the end, there can be no doubt about who wrote the plays.

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What the Critics Say

“A thorough, engaging work.” (Kirkus)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Somewhat Surprised and very pleased

I was really interested in the Shakespeare Authorship controversy and was looking fowarard to finding out more about William Devere. This book presents a very thorough and balanced position that gave me a lot to consider that the question is far from the black and white case that I once thought it was. The narrator is absolutely the best I have ever heard (imho)on an audio book, I would pay money to listen to her reading the telephone directory
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- Geoff in NY

The History of the Debate

The question of the Shakespearean "authorship problem" is addressed in a rather unique way here. The author comes right out and tells you that he believes in the idea that Shakespeare wrote his own works, but that the target of the book is instead to present a history of the debate itself, letting the very nature of the debate reveal its own merits and flaws. The cases for Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere are examined in depth, being representative of many of the other cases for alternate identity. The opinions of notables such as Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Helen Keller, Henry James, and many others are spotlighted and, in many cases, skewered as being ridiculous and unfounded. And yet, at the same time, the case for the Bard seems ever stacked against him due to a lack of supporting evidence and the ever-widening gap between what we know about him and what is revealed in his works. As a result, the process of how the problem has evolved over the course of time is as interesting as the problem itself.

This book is easily accessible for both the casual reader as well as the scholarly-minded, so the curious at every level will have little difficulty taking it all in and walking away with more than they might have expected.
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- Troy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-06-2010
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio