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Friday, January 11, 2008
Interred With Their Bones (or -- who did write those marvelous plays?)
Carrell, Jennifer Lee. Interred with Their Bones. Although I was quite interested in the theories about who may have written Shakespeare's plays if not Shakespeare himself, the book was too long, too fantastic, too full of unnecessary and unrealistic murders.
I did find the information on Delia Bacon (friend of Nathaniel Hawthorn) fascinating; Bacon was the first to propose the theory that the plays were written not by Shakespeare, but by Francis Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Edmund Spenser. Of course, other alternative authors such as Marlowe and the Earl of Oxford, are also mentioned. The historical information is intriguing and Carrell, who holds a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Harvard and taught in both the history and literature programs there, is certainly up on her history. I'd never heard that Frances Howard was tried for murdering Sir Thomas Overbury with some poisoned tarts, but found several interesting accounts online, here is one.
At any rate, Carrell's scholarship may be excellent, but I found the plot far-fetched and overly complicated and the characters pretty thin. While I do love theories about the authorship of the plays, I also agree with Sir Henry in preferring to believe that a "third-rate player" (according to Delia Bacon) actually could have written the plays because like Sir Henry, I like the idea that genius can flower anywhere.
Fiction. Mystery. 2007. 416 pages.