Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - By P. D. Mcin­tosh ( Mcfar­land) WAR­REN BREWER

THE lauda­tory pre­am­bles in this book hardly pre­pare read­ers for the shock­ing rev­e­la­tions it con­tains.

This seem­ingly in­no­cent lit­tle tome is in fact a lit­er­ary hand- grenade.

The Ho­bart author, like the sub­ject he has cho­sen is bit of a mys­tery.

Ge­ol­o­gist and ap­par­ent Shake­spearean scholar P. D. McIn­tosh im­merses him­self in the ex­tremely well­worn and mostly spu­ri­ous de­bate about the au­thor­ship of the works of the most fa­mous lit­er­ary fig­ure in his­tory.

McIn­tosh points out, and most would agree, that Shake­speare, the man, is in­deed an enigma. The ab­sence of di­aries, let­ters, in­vi­ta­tions or other per­sonal mem­o­ra­bilia about him have long fu­elled the spec­u­la­tion of his­to­ri­ans and oth­ers. Who was the real Shake­speare? Only his monumental works re­main. They speak for them­selves.

Ad­mit­tedly, even as a school­boy, I won­dered in­cred­u­lously, at a time in his­tory when travel and com­mu­ni­ca­tion were crude and limited, where the son of a poor mer­chant could ac­quire such back­ground knowl­edge for his works.

McIn­tosh be­lieves an­swers can be found partly within Shake­speare’s 150plus son­nets. With foren­si­cally de­tailed anal­y­sis he ex­am­ines more than 140 of th­ese and con­cludes that there is a strong pos­si­bil­ity that they have been writ­ten by no less than the monarch at the time Queen El­iz­a­beth I.

The tim­ing and the cir­cum­stance are right. Most of the son­nets, McIn­tosh sug­gests, re­flect El­iz­a­beth’s ro­man­tic trysts with her court favourite Lord Es­sex. Ap­par­ently, El­iz­a­beth was un­will­ing or un­able to pub­lish them her­self and by some de­vi­ous ar­range­ment they found their way into the hands of Shake­speare.

Ad­mit­tedly, the Queen was an em­i­nently qual­i­fied scholar. She was mul­ti­lin­gual and a highly skilled com­mu­ni­ca­tor. Also, the in­tense depth of feel­ing ex­pressed in the son­nets has made them leg­endary pieces of ro­man­tic lit­er­a­ture.

One would as­sume they could only be a con­se­quence of very real and deeply held feel­ings. The depth of re­search and anal­y­sis here is quite phe­nom­e­nal. The logic within is se­lec­tively com­pelling, But is it the truth? Read­ers will draw their own con­clu­sions.

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