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- Karthik Narasimhan
I kind of knew it the first time I picked up Hamlet. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but it was quite obvious to me after reading the second line of the play, the one that had someone asking someone else to “stand, and unfold yourself” – this book was multidimensional. Deep. Cryptic. It was pregnant with hidden meaning, and if you got a copy with better line spacing than mine, I am quite certain there was a lot that you could have read between the lines.
From cryptic to cryptographic isn't such a big leap, and Clare Asquith has made just that. She thinks, nay, knows that Shakespeare was a “subversive who embedded dangerous political messages in his work.”
She argues that the plays and poems are a network of crossword puzzle-like clues to his strong Catholic beliefs and his fears for England's future. Aside from being the first to spot this daring Shakespearean code, Asquith also claims to be the first to have cracked it.
‘It has not been picked up on before because people have not had the complete context,' she explained this weekend. ‘I am braced for flak, but we now know we have had the history from that period wrong for a long time because we have seen it through the eyes of the Protestant, Whig ascendancy who, after all, have written the history.'
Not to be judgemental, but here's an example of the code:
The sun represented divinity, and so sunburn denotes closeness to God. Shakespeare described himself as ‘tanned' in Sonnet 62.
Makes me yearn for Dan Brown.
Read the whole thing here. In case you are wondering, I had to do several carefully conducted searches using multiple search engines to sort through all the Salman Rushdie news/profiles/reviews/interviews/conversations before I got to this article.