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Sunday, 24 February 2013
A Pioneering Work that Brings Shakespeare Studies and the Authorship Question into Alignment and Sheds New Light

Hank Whittemore, author of numerous works on Shakespeare has written a remarkable review of David P. Gontar's Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays on

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” Hamlet tells his good friend, and likewise in "Hamlet Made Simple" there are more and deeper revelations about the contents of the Shakespeare works than are dreamt of by most commentaries on them.

David Gontar’s book of essays is a real treasure. He guides us to look beneath the surface of the poems, plays and sonnets, where wondrous surprises are waiting to be discovered. In some ways his writings and insights can be compared favorably with those of Harold Bloom or Harold Goddard, but Professor Gontar also wields a powerful additional weapon, akin to a pair of goggles with night vision, resulting is a series of previously unseen and startling images.

Gontar is a Shakespeare scholar and is quite able to confront various questions within the traditional or Stratfordian context, but he is also a pioneer in being able to expand and deepen that context to include entirely new layers and levels of contemporary English history and biography. He is one of the first critics in my experience who deals with the “authorship question” after, not before, examining aspects of Shakespeare’s creations on their own terms.

In terms of the power and originality of Gontar’s insights, this book may be placed on the shelf quite near to the masterful "Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom" by Charles Beauclerk. By stating clearly and concisely that “Hamlet” and “Shakespeare” are “ultimately two names for the same person,” Gontar begins to put on those goggles with the night vision. Meanwhile he is quite outspoken from the start:

“Those who would seek to eliminate all discussion as to the identity of the author of the works of Shakespeare must rank among the most reprehensible of today’s censors. The sentimental legend of the man from Stratford who rises from humble glover’s son to become the cynosure of the literary world is a rags-to-riches saga of which many are enamored. But legends have a way of disappointing … Traditionalists, who promote the miracle of Stratford-upon-Avon, go so far as to aver that there is ‘no question’ that the author was its poetic swan. If so, there is nothing to discuss, and no reason to listen to those who would make themselves heard on the issue. And that is censorship.”

The real pioneering aspect of Gontar’s work is not only an attempt to effect “a paradigm shift in our understanding of Shakespeare’s texts based on a radical alteration in our perception of his identity,” but also to somehow reconcile and unite “the two warring factions” of Stratfordians and Oxfordians. "Hamlet Made Simple And Other Essays" marks a bold new step toward that seemingly impossible goal.

Have you wondered why Hamlet hesitates and delays his revenge? There are answers here to ensure that your perception of this play will never again be the same. Have you wondered about the author’s real purpose in the writing of "Lucrece"? The illumination here is fairly blinding. In all there are nineteen essays followed by a preface and “An Introductory Word to Students.” This is careful work, to be read, savored and re-read. I highly recommend it.

Posted on 02/24/2013 1:24 PM by NER
26 Feb 2013
Bill Peschel

"If so, there is nothing to discuss, and no reason to listen to those who would make themselves heard on the issue. And that is censorship.”

He's being disingenous, setting up a straw man like that.

No one has advocated "censorship," which is a function of a governmental body and not critics. But they have advocated terrible crimes, such as demanding proof and examining that proof, and finding it lacking, nonsensical and anti-intellectual.

No, the real sentiment is among the loonies who, because of class or greed or mischief, claim an Elizabethian conspiracy was behind an elaborate plot to disguise the identity of a man who, in his lifetime and for long afterward, no one suspected of being anything but who he was, William Shakespeare, the author of numerous plays and sonnets.

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