Salon is featuring a very odd review of Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. Now, I haven't read the book, but Greenblatt is a Shakespearean scholar who has apparently taken what is known of Shakespeare's life, and attempted to fill in the blank areas of that life (which are enormous, to be sure) by careful extrapolation both from what's known about the culture Shakespeare lived in, and from analysis of Shakepeare's works. It certainly contains a great deal of speculation, but it's still a work of history. What's odd about the review is that the reviewer spends half the article discussing how Greenblatt's book likely gives a far more accurate picture of Shakespeare's life than does Shakespeare in Love.
Well, DUH!!! Apparently the reviewer mistook Shakespeare in Love for a documentary on Shakespeare's life. Either that, or poor little old non-humanities major me didn't realize that SiL was a supposed to be careful history of the Bard's life and times. I must have been thrown off by that souvenir mug from Stratford-upon-Avon on Will's desk. I foolishly assumed it was an anachronism. Silly of me.
It looks like the reviewer has a huge axe to grind with SiL. Don't get me wrong. The reviewer is entitled to dislike SiL. Lots of people do. But it seems to me that reviewing a work of non-fiction by saying, in effect, that it's better than a fictional account is faint praise indeed.