Shakespeare's Wife

The civetous whiff of bruised testosterone wafteth on the wind as scholarly soldiers wade once more unto the breach. Yea, sound the trump, for tis the Battle of the Greer, that sporadic joust when our erudite Australian agitator Germaine publishes another parcel of provocation, and interviewers try to concentrate and not mention vaginas or geese.

This year she's harping on Anne Hathaway, and her revisionist biography of Shakespeare's second-best wife is undeniably a barrel of brilliant bollocks. Of course, this is partly the point. Our beloved blank-canvas bard has ever been a mirror held up to the nature of those who write about him, allowing a lot of self-reflecting, often undeniably misogynist and myopic scholarly shit to be projected onto his spectral shoulders. Greer may be doing exactly the same, but at least it is far more imaginative, romantic and stimulating shit than most, and crap that she cares enough about to defend with a typically compelling, cranky courage.

Tis ever the way with Germaine. I want to deride and dismiss her, and then I hear her in this hour-long Guardian podcast, and she's just great - mad as a bag of snakes, but lithe, hissing and boisterously bridling against her bag. The rub, of course, is that Shakespeare's Wife (as the title suggests) is about Shakespeare more than his wife. As her monologue makes clear, Germaine can't bear the thought of worshipful Will as a cowardly, callous young creep, and so she invents a wife with whom he can play out a redemptive rural romance.

It's always about the old dead white man, after all.