A Novel About a "Lost" Shakespeare PlayAny interest in reading this novel by Arthur Phillips? If you have read it, do you think you could incorporate it into your class? His new novel is...

A Novel About a "Lost" Shakespeare Play

Any interest in reading this novel by Arthur Phillips? If you have read it, do you think you could incorporate it into your class?

His new novel is titled The Tragedy of Arthur, and it's about a novelist named Arthur Phillips who uncovers a lost Shakespeare play titled The Tragedy of Arthur. It's a postmodern literary thriller, which is something we've all seen before. But the thing Phillips does that most other authors wouldn't have the audacity to do is he includes the lost play in the book. Of course, when you toss your writing up against Shakespeare, you're going to fail spectacularly, but Phillips gets many, many points for showing that kind of initiative. [link]

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hey Scott, that is a cool suggestion. I will read it. It reminds me of a story written by Oscar Wilde (a die-hard Shakespearean himself) where he also suggested a secret connected to Shakespeare's sonnets.

The Portrait of Mr. W.H. by Oscar Wilde is a lesser-known short story of his that may have lost its popularity due to the similarly titled and way more notorious The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Anyway, the mystery in The Portrait of Mr. W.H. is the identity of the said W.H.- A dude to whom Shakespeare dedicates a number of sonnets.

People generally think that Mr. W.H was the Earl of Pembroke or Lord Southampton, but the theory in Wilde's mystery is that Mr. W.H. is actually an effeminate-looking Elizabethan actor named Willie Hughes.

Very cleverly, Wilde analyzes the sonnets from Shakespeare that he believes hide a "silent code" (nearly similar as if it were encrypted language) to proof the existence of this actor.

However, since there is no Willie Hughes (or Hewes) listed in Shakespeare's own company, the general assumption is that the actor had betrayed Shakespeare in favor of Marlowe, and that he changed his name.

Anyhow, its insanely entertaining (if you enjoy Victorian lit), but I think The Tragedy of Arthur could be the best addition to my reading list after W.H.

Sorry for the rambling!

howesk eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would be very interested in reading this. I find that students are apt to find Shakespeare more engaging if they have modern connections to him. Students' dislike of and disinterest in Shakespeare stems mostly from their difficulty understanding his language. When they can read about Shakespeare or about themes within Shakespeare in terms they can understand, they appreciate him more. I'm always interested in finding new ways to incorporate additional texts into my courses.

Novels about Shakespeare seem to be increasing. Has anyone read The Book of Air and Shadows? http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/609801.The_Book_of_Air_and_Shadows

bigdreams1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think this could definitely be incorporated especially as a look at Shakespeare's writing style. Having Phillips write an entire play using Shakespearean style could be an inspiration to my Senior English students to try the same.

As part of my Shakespearean unit, my students are required to write an epitaph for Shakespeare using Iambic Pentameter. It is a small writing task, but with The Tragedy of Arthur as an example, perhaps I could expand the writing assignment to a small play.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sounds really interesting. I might have to add it to my summer reading list! From the quote you have given, it reminds me of a novel by the British author, A. S. Byatt, called Possession, which one the booker prize. It tells the story of two Victorian (made up) poets. Part of the novel includes large sections of their poetry, which A. S. Byatt herself wrote. It is an amazing achievement. Trying to write a Shakespeare play though sounds like a Herculean task, however.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with the above posts...sounds very intriguing, and I would love to both read it and incorporate it into my classroom regimen.  I think the whole mystery of it would intrigue my students...they are so into "whodunnits" and trick endings.  Studying Shakespeare's writing style with this book would also be a fun experiment.

I will definitely look into this and add it to my summer reading list...which is growing by leaps and bounds daily!

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This sounds like fun.  This type of book seems to be becoming more popular lately.  Personally, I think it's a good trend.  I find these books very interesting.  They combine some intelligent plotting with my favorite books!

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