... entertaining ... [an] energetic narrative ... [Blanding] also delves into Tudor history, illuminating North’s life as a traveler and aristocrat ... It’s unclear if Blanding’s highly enjoyable foray into the field will have an impact on Shakespearean scholars, but at the very least, North by Shakespeare will provide readers with the tools to enter the fray themselves. The book includes McCarthy’s estimated timeline of North’s plays next to a timeline of Shakespeare’s work, which readers can use along with McCarthy’s other techniques to examine passages from both North and Shakespeare themselves. It’s almost as much fun as sitting in a theater.
...captivating ... Years ago, McCarthy impulsively self-published a book outlining some of his earliest thoughts on the subject. He called it North by Shakespeare, and in a neat gesture of writerly magnanimity, Blanding adopts that title in order to tell the story of McCarthy’s journey, North’s adventures, and, ultimately, the whole Shakespeare authorship question ... Blanding dramatizes very effectively the thrill of this literary investigation, giving readers a revelation-by-revelation account of the developments in McCarthy’s thinking without ever drowning them in trivia. The book likewise does a virtuoso job of evoking both the realities of Shakespeare’s world and the twists and turns of the whole Shakespeare question ... a curiously invigorating glimpse of that jobbing, hustling Shakespeare ... this isn’t some silly conspiracy theory. Orthodox scholars who simply ignore it do so at the peril of their reputations.
McCarthy does not join those who have denied Shakespeare’s authorship, typically attributing the Bard’s works to Francis Bacon or Edward de Vere. However, Blanding interprets McCarthy’s views as discernibly similar. Readers not persuaded by McCarthy’s theory may still gain from his insights into how guardians of orthodoxy deal with an interloper.
Blanding recounts the odyssey of an iconoclast scholar seeking recognition in a world to which he doesn’t quite belong. Even more, though, this book is a painstaking accounting of how McCarthy arrived at his conclusions ... Bardolators will want to read this book; for others, it’s an optional read.
... lively ... Much of the book is taken up with summarizing Elizabethan history to provide context for McCarthy’s theories, but Blanding does a good job of capturing the eccentric McCarthy and his passion to get to the bottom of this particular rabbit hole. Shakespeare fans and readers who enjoy the thrill of a good bibliographic treasure hunt will want to check this out.
... lively ... Not surprisingly, McCarthy’s arguments have not been welcomed by Shakespearean scholars; too many, he asserts, are invested in the image of Shakespeare as a solitary genius. Readers who peruse his lengthy appendix, offering parallel excerpts from North and Shakespeare, can come to their own conclusions ... An entertaining look at a literary iconoclast.