Saturday, July 12, 2008

Shakespeare Robbery Drama

Culturally, 1998 was the year of Potter Magic, Mullets, and presidential monuments to Monica. Shakespeare, aka the Bard, had an admirer who after his death made 750 copies First Folio editions in 1623, with one of the rare surviving editions that wound its way to a bookshelf in England's Durham University in 1998. For centuries, it resided alongside other pedigreed books read by generations of readers. One ostensible modern reader having a terrible winter of discontent, stole seven of the books in 1998, including William Shakespeare's folio, now valued at £15 million pounds or in American dollars, $30 million.

Then, book appears, exported to America like the Beatles. The current, latest or hoodwinked black market book buyer or original thief decided that he needed the book's DNA verified. He appreciated that certain Americans are well versed in all things Shakespearean and they can be found in the most unlikely places bearing the name of the bard. The truly valuable, last of the folios remaining in the world was taken in to Washington DC, to the Folger Shakespeare Library to ask a cough, innocent, cough, question of whether it twas the real thing. Librarians asked to keep the treasured folio to run a few tests which included a yelp to the FBI and placing the piece, now evidence, reverentially in essentially a refrigerated room for books to preserve it rather than next to all the drug evidence. An international quest began.

"There was something about it that felt a little off to us," said Garland Scott, director of external relations at the Folger Shakespeare Library, one of the world's leading centers of Shakespearean research.

A 51-year-old man was arrested in the English town of Washington on Thursday and was being questioned Friday.

It could not immediately be determined whether the man in custody is the man who visited the Folger.

A compulsive thief obviously has not followed the historical debasing of the current value of the US dollar, nor the advents in technology or just basic gumshoe principles. The local constables show up to a generic orderly modest home of a middle-aged book dealer in a working class neighborhood in the town of Washington, near Tye with a silver Ferrarri in the driveway, Armani suits in the closet and towering stacks of antique books. Now the book purchaser/dealer/thief claims it was a great buy in Cuba and he is an international businessman. So now the perfect place to insert said thief was not holding his manhood cheap line.

Harold Bloom is a Shakespearean scholar with a penchant for upbraiding the riff raff for not knowing enough about William S nor lauding the intelligentsia for not understanding Shakespeare's influence on the western literary canon. Bloom believes Shakespeare gave people personalities. The erudite and somewhat cranky professor wrote an entire work on the intriguing and imminently debatable topic,
Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human.

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