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Fiction is certainly an interesting, and I would say more appropriate, vehicle for putting forth theories on the “Shakespeare authorship question,” and Carrell’s contribution makes an appealing companion study piece to Amundsen’s Organisten. Like Amundsen in real life, Carrell’s characters are after Shakespeare’s lost manuscripts; in this case, the once documented but now lost Cardenio. Given my recent discoveries in this area, I was rather hoping the story would build up to a dramatic conclusion on Oak Island – but, alas, it was not to be. It goes almost everywhere else, though, from England to ghost towns of the American southwest to Washington, DC to Spain and back again. Along the way, Kate Stanley and co. find long lost letters in secret compartments, ciphers embedded in old texts, and manuscripts hidden in desert caves, among other adventures. Also like Amundsen, Carrell touches on the figure of Francis Bacon. In Carrell’s world, however, Bacon is only one part of a so-called “chimerical beast” – an entire committee of Shakespeares who pool their talents to create the plays. This tag-team of writers includes all the big candidates who have been put forth over the centuries: Bacon; Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford; William Stanley, Earl of Derby; Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke; and the actor William Shakespeare himself.
Without doubt, William Shakespeare of Stratford has had some famous doubters throughout history. And I don’t mean just Peter Amundsen. Henry James, Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, and even the renowned modern Shakespearean actor Sir Derek Jacobi are counted among his non-believers. One of the most recent anti-Stratfordians to come out of the woodwork, however, is film director Roland Emmerich, whose upcoming movie Anonymous is a vehicle for his own, ahem, informed opinion. Thus, it seems only fitting that this film be the topic of the final part of my “Shakespeare Code” trilogy.