Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare (Google eBook)

Front Cover
PublicAffairs, 2009 - DRAMA - 368 pages
14 Reviews
In 16th century England many loyal subjects to the crown were asked to make a terrible choice: to follow their monarch or their God. The era was one of unprecedented authoritarianism: England, it seemed, had become a police state, fearful of threats from abroad and plotters at home. This age of terror was also the era of the greatest creative genius the world has ever known: William Shakespeare. How, then, could such a remarkable man born into such violently volatile times apparently make no comment about the state of England in his work?

He did. But it was hidden. Revealing Shakespeare's sophisticated version of a forgotten code developed by 16th-century dissidents, Clare Asquith shows how he was both a genius for all time and utterly a creature of his own era: a writer who was supported by dissident Catholic aristocrats, who agonized about the fate of England's spiritual and political life and who used the stage to attack and expose a regime which he believed had seized illegal control of the country he loved.

Shakespeare's plays offer an acute insight into the politics and personalities of his era. And Clare Asquith's decoding of them offers answers to several mysteries surrounding Shakespeare's own life, including most notably why he stopped writing while still at the height of his powers. An utterly compelling combination of literary detection and political revelation, Shadowplay is the definitive expose of how Shakespeare lived through and understood the agonies of his time, and what he had to say about them.


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Review: Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare

User Review  - Simon - Goodreads

It's an interesting book, but she certainly doesn't accomplish her overarching goal, which is to convince the reader that Shakespeare was a closet Catholic. Asquith's main problem is that the term ... Read full review

Review: Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare

User Review  - C. Michael - Goodreads

May be dismissed by those unable or unwilling to accept Shakespeare's spirituality. May be thought an exaggeration in places even by those who are willing to see him as a recusant Catholic, or even ... Read full review


In Act Thy BedVow Broke1
New Faith Torn
Vowing New Hate After New Love Bearing
Thou Art Twice Forsworn
The Phoenix
The Chroniclers of the Time
The Noted Weed
Englands Divided Family
Our Faith Mere Folly
Preparing Fire
The Second Hope
Prince Henry
The First Approach
Englands Champion
It Is Required You Do Awake Your Faith
Victory Against Dissidents

England the Cruel Lover
Enforced Love
Quarrelling by the Book
Bringing Truth to Light
That Were Enough to Hang Us All
Wake Diana with a Hymn
By My Two Faiths
Friends Romans Countrymen
The Good Mans Feast
EnglandThere All Men Are As Mad As He
A Wise Mans Art
The Heart of Loss
Truth and Beauty Buried Be
The Lightning Flash
The Advocate
The Hideous Law
True Hearts Cannot Bear It
Groans and Complaints and Tears of Blood
All Dark and Comfortless
Dire Combustion and Confused Events
Nothing Left Remarkable
Shakespeares Last Play
The Forgeries of John Fletcher
Ben Jonsons Pastoral Tribute
The Rest Is Silence
Secret Voices
The Protectors
Reconciliation 15881592
Persecution 15921594
Rage 1594
Addressing the Queen 15951599
The Catholic Resistance 15991600
Appeal to the Undecided 1600
Failure 16011602
The Kings Man 16031604
The Powder Keg 16051606
The PostMortem 16061608
The Second Hope 16081610
Silenced 16101611
The Lost Man 1611 and After

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About the author (2009)

Clare Asquith has lectured on Shakespeare in England and Canada. Her article on The Phoenix and the Turtle was published in 2001 by the Times Literary Supplement, and her essay on Love's Labour's Lost appeared this year in Shakespeare and the Culture of Christianity in Early Modern England. She lives in London.

Bibliographic information