The Perils Of Rewriting History

Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare, Van Gogh didn’t kill himself, George Harrison was the hero of The Beatles and Hemingway was a feminist. Has revisionism gone too far? Such revisionism isn’t new, according to Geoffrey Macnab: ‘What has changed in the internet era is that everyone has an opinion – and that opinion can be posted instantly. In the past, if “authorship” of a play or film was being challenged, the revisionists would be obliged to marshall their arguments in academic journals and books. Now, they can just post a blog.”Not a shred of documentary evidence has ever been found that connects De Vere to any of the [Shakespeare] plays or poems,” wrote Columbia professor James Shapiro recently in the New York Times. In the digital age, the absence of evidence isn’t a hindrance. If you assert something aggressively enough, you’ll be heard. What matters in the digital age is how strident you are, not how diligently you have done your research.’

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