Mainstream-Friendly Controversy: The Literary Rose That Smells as Sweet
Aug 12, 2013
The argument questioning William Shakespeare's claim as the Bard of Avon, has smoldered on since the mid-19th century, fueled by great literary minds like Mark Twain, Henry James, Walt Whitman and Sigmund Freud who insist that only candidates with higher education, knowledge of the aristocracy and familiarity with the royal court--the likes of Kit Marlowe, Ben Jonson, William Stanley, Francis Bacon, the 17th Earl of Oxford and even Elizabeth I--could be considered as plausible authors of Shakespeare's famous and remarkable folio. Now, rekindled in the mindset of the mainstream intelligencia by director Roland Emmerich's production of the 2011 film, "Anonymous" and the publication of a raft of non-fiction books that include Michael Anderson's "Shakespeare By Another Name" and Charles Beauclerk's "Shakespeare's Lost Kingdom: The True History of Shakespeare and Elizabeth", psychologist, PhD and author Bruce Hutchison presents his proof of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford's authorship in an easy-to-read historical novel with an accessible characterization of the formidable earl who, sadly was unable to accept public credit for his work due not only to the shame of social disgrace a playwright's reputation would bring to his high-ranking position, but to the religious intrigues and boudoir politics that strongly effected the Elizabethan court.
Whether or not you ever conceptualized that someone other than Stratford-on-Avon's most famous personage penned thirty-eight plays and one hundred and fifty-four sonnets involving kings, foreign lands and factional intrigues that may, in the opinion of the Oxfordians (those attributing De Vere with the authorship of the Shakespearean body of work), have been beyond the sophistication and educational level of an unworldly son of a glove maker, matters naught. Hutchison will transport you to an earlier world where conspiracy is as common as the lack of plumbing. For the reader endowed with the Da Vincian virtue of curiosita, the story of De Vere opens the door to insight into an age past where, not unlike the celebrities of today, the hype and publicity surrounding a great person supersede his/her real nature. Hutchison's balance of fictional scenarios, historical fact, and speculation brings to vibrant life the objectives of the enigmatic de Vere and the battle he wages with those around him who, for motives of their own, hitch a multitude of wagons to his rising star, yet forever banish him to the hinterland of anonymity.
Using a straightforward technique--his third person narrative does not rely upon flashbacks like Emmerich's sometimes confusing "Anonymous"--Hutchison uses his experience as a therapist to look into the psychology behind the actions of his cast of players without neglecting his primary goal of convincing his reader that de Vere is the most likely contender to award the ultimate prize of legitimate Shakespearean attribution. With a scientific precision, he explores the location and origin of each of Shakespeare's great works and draws a reasonable correlation between them and specific travel events in the life of de Vere. Assuredly, he asserts that incentives very personal to de Vere act as inspiration for the darker Shakespearean themes of hiding behind a secret identity, seeking revenge or reveling in the comeuppance for and of wrongful acts, withstanding the blow of disinheritance, manipulating the succession of power and plotting to usurp legitimate control--none of which would be defined with any illustration of experience within the limits of the world in which the "Stratfordian" (those who attribute the writings of Shakespeare to the actor Will) Shakespeare lived.
In order to plunge the reader within the whirlwind of Edward's personal tempest, Hutchison explores the important figures in de Vere's saga with respect to their spheres of influence, overall desire for ultimate supremacy and lack of regard for collateral damage from a psychological angle that adds dimension to the commonly known historical portrayals.
* In depicting Edward, himself, Hutchison suggests an enigmatic presence of multi-faceted perspicacity bound by duty, but not easily understood or societized; his portrait is worthy of the mindset a true Shakespeare might possess and display while sojourning through a disappointing and limited world. * His representation of Elizabeth I collides with, tweaks and chips away at the age-old propaganda of the self-proclaimed "Virgin Queen," revealing her in the new light of her boudoir where her "purity" unravels in a tangle of discarded clothing, bed sheets and the legs of courtiers and younger lovers. As the Queen's value as a commodity of potential political marriage/alliance wanes as she grows older, Hutchison allows the reader to enter her mindset, perceiving her lessening strength and usefulness from her vantage point as it snags at her vanity with a cruelly persistent inevitability. * He depicts the commanding figure of Lord Burghley, William Cecil, one of the Queen's chief advisors and Edward's appointed guardian/father-in-law as a worthy adversary intent on engaging in a life-long chess game of knights and pawns that cast intense shadows of lingering influence. As Burgley's presence feeds off the power of the throne to generate a battery of undeniably Machiavellian control and ambition Hutchison shows how this dynamic sidelines strategist both stultifies and electrifies the history of Britain's monarchy and that of its greatest bard.
Instead of supporting the intellectual argument that Shakespeare's authorship was not questioned during his lifetime and only after centuries after his death, Hutchison disputes the Stratfordian insistence that the debate began in the middle of the 19th century as the brainchild of elitists but was actively pursued by de Vere's daughter, Susan Herbert, who claimed attribution for her father immediately after his death in 1604. Wisely, he frames his story with her attempts to put a visibly documented reference in the public's eye that would evidence her father's authorship for the purpose of literary posterity.
Bottom line? Speculation regarding the authorship of the Shakespearean sonnets and plays will persist unless a work handwritten by the Bard himself is authenticated and attributed to the man who actually held the quill. In the meanwhile, author, psychologist and PhD, Bruce Hutchison does his best in a fictional format to introduce the mainstream to the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, who very well could be "the Man who was Shakespeare." In this elaborate page-turner, Hutchison reveals the man behind the famous name in one of history's most intriguing conundrums and suggests that a rose by any other name was cultivated within a garden of great experience, education and influence. Recommended. Diana Faillace Von Behren "reneofc"
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About the reviewer
Diana Faillace Von Behren (reneofc)
I like just about anything. My curiosity tends to be insatiable--I love the "finding out" and the "ah-ha" moments. Usually I review a book or film with the … more
Bruce Hutchison was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. He majored in television production and minored in psychology at American University in Washington D.C. He volunteered for the Army, and was stationed for three years in Munich, Germany, as a U.S. Army Psychology Technician. After returning to the States, he earned a Master’s Degree in psychology from Stanford University, and returned to Maryland to earn his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland. He has worked for the courts, police departments and attorneys and has testified as an expert witness in psychological profiling for both the prosecution and defense. He has been a member of the State of Maryland Forensic Evaluation Team. He is the author of several books, including The Passion Principle, Love’s Labor Lost: The Man Who Was Shakespeare, and the Clayton Lovell Stone Mystery Series. His website is Whowasshakespeare.NET.