Book Log – The Tragedy of Arthur

The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips

I loaned my mother-in-law The Lonely Polygamist because I loved it, and she’s an avid reader who seems to enjoy some if not most of the books I do.  It turned out well, and she tore through it in the week I was up in New Jersey.

In return, she loaned me a book she gave up on, and didn’t like.  As it happens, that turned out well, also.  So, apparently you don’t need a solid reason to give someone a book.

The Tragedy of Arthur is fictionally autobiographical novel about an author named Arthur whose life is nearly identical to the actual author of the novel.  The premise is that Arthur Phillips is writing an introduction to a newly discovered Shakespeare play, The Tragedy of Arthur.  The introduction tells the story of the discovery of the play, and why the author believes it not to be real, despite all the scholars’ opinions.

The story starts out kind of hard to read, a sad story of a disappointing con-man father, and I very nearly gave up on it, too.  It’s that feeling where you’re reading along, and you think “If I put this book down, I likely won’t ever pick it up again.”  But somewhere along the line, I started getting into it a bit, enough to keep me going.

The end of it is actually the “Shakespeare” play that he’s written the introduction for.  It’s annotated with notes from him and a scholar, sort of arguing in the footnotes about the authenticity.

The story is okay (the book’s story, not the “Shakespeare” play within), but what I’m interesting in finding out is how good this forged Shakespeare play about King Author actually is, how plausibly did Arthur Phillips, the real-life author, create a purported Shakespeare’s work?  I’m no judge, myself.  It seems Shakespearean, but so do the improv skits we used to do in the style of Shakespeare.

I’ve looked around for reviews, but haven’t found any experts chiming in.  I’ll keep looking.