I’ve been chattering a bit about Bill Cain’s play, Equivocation, of late (here and here), and it turns out that a new novel has hyst been published dealing with similar themes; namely, how a fictionalized Bard might have handled an onerous commission with dangerous political overtones, and what his real opinions might have been on said dangerous subjects.
The novel in question is The Final Act of Mr William Shakespeare, by Robert Winder, and, also as in Equivocation, the author makes so bold as to write a new “Shakespeare” play, as it were, as part of the story. In the case of Equivocation, the play was a “True History of the Gunpowder Treason”, and we only see a few small portions of it, all concocted from bits and pieces out of other Shakespeare play, mainly Macbeth — which in Cain’s fictional world is the play Shag ends up writing instead as a sort of “equivocating” (read: Safe, barely) slam at Tudor-Stuart religio-politics. But Winder, in a case of jaw-dropping chutzpah, apparently does Cain one better and writes a whole damn new “Shakespeare” play. It’s called The Tragicall History of Henry VII, it’s (by the sounds of it) unequivocally critical of the Tudor he had given the hero treatment in Richard III, and it runs to one hundred pages, a fourth of Winder’s novel.
(BTW, the London Times reviewer calls it “hugely enteraining” to boot. Here’s their article.
And here’s a link to the Amazon page; the book won’t be available via Amazon until Feb. 4, 2010, but you can sign up to be notified when it’s available.