JAMES SHAPIRO follows his award-winning book on William Shakespeare, “1599”, which came out in 2005, with an unlikely subject: an investigation into the old chestnut that Shakespeare wasn’t the man who wrote the works.

秉承其2005年出版、屡获殊荣的《1599》,詹姆斯•夏皮罗再次将一个匪夷所思却又老生常谈的威廉•莎士比亚课题领入公众视野:莎士比亚并非其著作的作者。

Most mainstream Shakespeareans stand aloof from it. But apparently the claims of Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere and Christopher Marlowe, among others, are on the rise. An appetite for conspiracy theories, combined with a call for “balance” from some sectors of academe and the rise of the internet have given the thing new life. Respectable audiences turn up to listen to lectures on it. The controversy is even taught at university level. “What difference does it make who wrote the plays?” someone asked the author wearily. Mr Shapiro (for whom Shakespeare was definitely the man) thinks it matters a lot, and by the end of this book, his readers will think so too.

绝大部分主流莎士比亚研究者对此嗤之以鼻,但值得一提的是,显然现在认为作者是弗兰西斯•培根、爱德华•德•维尔及克里斯多夫•马洛的看法正逐渐深入人心。阴谋论、一些学术部门要求“裁定”和网络的推波助澜,这让这个课题重获生命。大量听众出现在有关该课题的讲堂中,甚至大学还专门开设有关该课题的课程。“谁写的这些戏有啥区别啊?”有人这样不耐烦地问作者,而夏皮罗先生(对其而言,莎士比亚就是个欺世盗名之徒)却认为这事关重大,并且读完此书后,读者们也会这样想。

The authorship controversy turns on two things: snobbery and the assumption that, in a literal way, you are what you write. How could an untutored, untravelled glover’s son from hickville, the argument goes, understand kings and courtiers, affairs of state, philosophy, law, music—let alone the noble art of falconry? Worse still, how could the business-minded, property-owning, moneylending materialist that emerges from the documentary scraps, be the same man as the poet of the plays? Many have shaken their heads at the sheer vulgarity of it all, among them Mark Twain, Helen Keller, Henry James, his brother William, and Sigmund Freud.

作者身份的争议集中在两点:势力性格和文学中“我写我思”的设想。争论认为,一个来自hickville、未经教育、足不出户的手套商贩的儿子,怎么可能会熟知各个国王、朝臣、国家大事,还懂得哲学、法律、音乐——更别说贵族鹰猎术?更荒谬的是,那个文献中唯利是图、家财万贯的高利贷债主,那个唯“物”主义者,怎可能会和这些伟大戏剧的著者是同一人?许多人,包括马克•吐温、海伦•凯勒、亨利•詹姆斯及其兄弟威廉•詹姆斯还有西格蒙德•弗洛伊德在内,都对其粗俗卑劣感到不齿。

Mr Shapiro teases out the cultural prejudices, the historical blind spots, and above all the anachronism inherent in these questions. No one before the late 18th century had ever asked them, or thought to read the plays or sonnets for biographical insights. No one had even bothered to work out a chronology for them. The idea that works of literature hold personal clues, or that—more grandly—writing is an expression and exploration of the self, is a relatively recent phenomenon.

而夏皮罗先生则对这些文化偏见、历史盲点及这些问题中所有的过时观点不屑一顾。18世纪末之前,没人曾问过或想过通过阅读这些剧本或十四行诗来了解莎士比亚这个人,也没人为其专门做一个年代表。文学著作隐藏着个人信息,或更大致地说,写作是自我的展现及探索的方式,这样的观点是近来才提出的。

The central chapters of Mr Shapiro’s book concentrate on the 19th and early 20th centuries, when the search for alternative claimants took off. The two main characters in his story are Delia Bacon, who in 1857 put forward a Renaissance philosopher Francis Bacon (no relation); and J.T. Looney, who in 1920 proposed an Elizabethan courtier, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Mr Shapiro takes them both seriously, patiently following their lives and contextualising their ideas. It is no accident that by the time Delia Bacon entered the field, Shakespeare had become almost a god in the public imagination. Both she and Looney developed their theories in a spirit of religious doubt, and in the throes of their own personal crises.

夏皮罗先生书中的主要章节集中在19世纪和20世纪早期,开始寻查原作者之时。书中两个主要人物,一个叫迪莉娅•培根,她在1857年提出原作者是文艺复兴时的哲人——弗兰西斯•培根(两人无亲属关系);另一个是J.T.鲁尼,他在1920年提出一名名叫爱德华•德•维尔的伊丽莎白时代朝臣,第17世牛津伯爵才是原作者。夏皮罗先生很严谨地研究了这两人,不厌其烦地追溯其人生,融入他们的思想之中。这一切并非偶然,迪莉娅•培根涉入这领域时,莎士比亚早已是民众想象中的神祗,她和鲁尼都是在深陷其个人危机时,以宗教疑问为由来发展其理论的。

“Contested Will” is dense with lives and stories and argument. It is also entertaining. The quest for the true claimant drove people mad. Here are secrets and codes, an elaborate cipher-breaking machine, an obsession with graves and crazy adventures to find lost manuscripts. One man spent months dredging the River Severn. Mr Shapiro himself turns sleuth, exposing as fraudulent a piece of evidence long thought to be genuine—one more hoax in the long history of Shakespearean wild goose chases.

《百年争议下的威尔》中不但充满了各式各样的人生、故事、争论,同时也还充满了娱乐。人们疯狂地寻找真正的原作者,他们刨根寻底,用精密的解码器解读那些神秘代码,或挖掘坟墓或铤而走险,不放过一点遗失手稿的蛛丝马迹。曾有人在塞文河挖了几个月的泥。夏皮罗先生还亲自揭穿了一个人们一直信以为真的骗局——有劳无功的莎氏搜寻史中又增添了一个骗局。

The last chapter is a return to sanity: a brilliant defence of the man from Stratford. Piece by piece, Mr Shapiro builds the case— the contemporary witnesses, the tracks left by printing houses and theatrical practice, the thousand details that show, apart from anything else, how unnecessary the whole farrago has been. The Shakespeare that emerges is both simple and mysterious: a man of the theatre, who read, observed, listened and remembered. Beyond that is imagination. In essence, that’s what the book is about.

书中的最后一章回到了理智:一次为这位斯特拉特福德人的名誉的精彩辩护。夏皮罗先生一点一点地勾勒出了整个事实——包括当代发现的证据,印刷厂、戏院遗留的蛛丝马迹,成千条各种细节,这些细节告诉人们这整个事件是如何多余、毫无意义。莎士比亚,他是一个人,一个简单却又笼罩着神秘的人,一个为戏剧而生的人,他读过书,他观察过这个世界,他聆听着这个世界的声音,他记得这一切。除此之外,都是人们的想象。这,就是这本书想要传达给我们的。