If this month’s Elena Ferrante–related news has taught us anything about our reading habits, it’s that we’re obsessed with authorship. The woman behind the popular Neapolitan novels wished to remain anonymous behind her pen name, but, rather than respecting her wishes and enjoying her work, we had to go and ruin it by outing her true identity.
This rabid interest in the creator ― one that sometimes supersedes interest in the project itself ― usually results in nothing worse than harmless speculation. And, sometimes, it can provide us with historical insight that casts the stories we love in new light.
This week, in “No, but really, who wrote it?” gossip: Christopher Marlowe, long suspected by William Shakespeare scholars to have worked closely with the Bard, has been credited as a co-author on a new edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published by Oxford University Press. Marlowe will be listed as co-writer of the three “Henry VI” plays.
Writes The Guardian:
Using old-fashioned scholarship and 21st-century computerised tools to analyse texts, the edition’s international scholars have contended that Shakespeare’s collaboration with other playwrights was far more extensive than has been realised until now.
The publisher estimates that up to 17 of Shakespeare’s plays weren’t lone works of genius, but brilliant collaborations. Which, in a way, makes their timelessness that much more laudable. Can you imagine working alongside your rival to produce something cohesive ― something that endures for centuries?
Neither can we.