William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English and of Visual and Environmental Studies Harvard University
Shakespeare’s Ghost Writers: Literature as Uncanny Causality
The plays of Shakespeare are filled with ghosts – and ghost writing. Shakespeare’s Ghost Writers is an examination of the authorship controversy surrounding Shakespeare: the claim made repeatedly that the plays were ghost written. Ghosts take the form of absences, erasures, even forgeries and signatures – metaphors extended to include Shakespeare himself and his haunting of us, and in particular theorists such Derrida, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud – the figure of Shakespeare constantly made and remade by contemporary culture. Marjorie Garber, one of the most eminent Shakespearean theorists writing today, asks what is at stake in the imputation that “Shakespeare” did not write the plays, and shows that the plays themselves both thematize and theorize that controversy.
Shakespeare’s Ghost Writers
“Shakespeare’s Ghost Writers is a dazzling achievement. It is about the ghosts that haunt Richard III, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Hamlet; but it is even more about the ghost of Shakespeare, a ghost who haunts and guides the hands of Derrida, Marx, Nietzsche, and above all Freud. Marjorie Garber brilliantly traces how the dead hand of Shakespeare continues to write us.
– Peter Stallybrass, University of Pennsylvania
“Shakespeare’s Ghost Writersis a brave new book, for in justifying another new book about Shakespeare, it has attempted nothing less than to make literature newly consequential.”
– Margreta de Grazia, Shakespeare Quarterly
“Any reader interested in how Shakespeare continues to haunt modern and postmodern culture, including theory, will learn much from the work of Marjorie Garber. Her book Shakespeare’s Ghost Writers (Garber 1986) remains the most thoughtful and thought-provoking account of Shakespeare’s ‘uncanny causality’ and the ways in which theorists, even when they criticize canonical authority, repeatedly turn to Shakespeare to lend authority to their critique. Shakespeare’s Ghost Writers was the first sustained study of ‘Shakespearean theory’; it remains the best.”
– Jonathan Gil Harris, Shakespeare and Literary Theory