Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review of "The Quest for Shakepeare"

I have enjoyed Shakespeare all my life, and when my daughter attended a high school class which interpreted his famous sonnet "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?" as a man-love poem, I was outraged, pulled her from the class and decided to do some Shakespearean research to discover who William Shakespeare really was. Thankfully, Joseph Pearce's "The Quest for Shakespeare" had just been published. I had found the perfect book to discover what your English teacher will never tell you about William Shakespeare; he as a devout Catholic in the days when it could cost him his life.
Pearce's theory is that William Shakespeare is a recusant (secret) Catholic in the days of intense persecution of Catholics under Anglican Church founder King Henry VIII's daughter with Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth.
 The book reads like a fascinating spy novel, where clues to Shakespeare's hidden yet bold Catholicism are uncovered and discussed in indisputable detail. The adventure begins with the recent discovery of William's father's will in the roof of his home where he declares that he never left the Faith. So it appears that William Shakespeare like many recusant Catholics during this time of martyrdom, a double life. He was officially Baptized an Anglican to save his skin but spent time during his impressionable years when he was deciding what path to follow in life in the company of famous Catholic martyrs Fr Robert Southwell and St Edmund Campion. Pearce maintains that he dedicated a volume of his plays to Robert Southwell as "RS" and even boldly celebrated Queen Elizabeth's death in 1603 with a play entitled, "All's Well That Ends Well".
If you note that the Catholic Church is treated with respect in such plays as "Romeo and Juliet" it seems unlikely that Shakespeare was an Anglican. He was just keeping the authorities at bay while he lived an intensely Catholic life. His wife Anne Hathaway was related to such Catholic outlaws as Guy Fawkes who unsucessfully tried to foment a revolution to take back England for the Catholics.   When Pearce tells you about Shakespeare's attic in London you are sure that the Bard of Avon was a secret Catholic who was clever enough to avoid capture and execution but unfortunate enough to be savagely misinterpreted by modern heretics.
Reading "The Quest for Shakespeare" would be a fine way to inspire your teenager to a noble life of academic excellence and of bold standing for their faith in the public square, beginning with that classroom where the Catholic faith is held up as the number one evil influence in Europe.
Note; Joseph Pearce tells the story of "The Quest for Shakespeare" in a riveting EWTN series which you can purchase in their online bookstore or listen to as MP3 files here.

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