When François Hollande [the socialist candidate in the French presidential election] cited Shakespeare during his biggest campaign speech on Sunday, it was one of the high points of an effort that helped cement himself as the front-runner in France’s presidential race.
To a delirious crowd of around 20,000, the Socialist candidate cited The Bard as he promised to cast off the ennui of the Nicolas Sarkozy era with a new wave of egalitarian idealism.
The “universal message” he wished to convey, Mr Hollande told the crowd, was best summed up by Shakespeare’s great words: “They failed because they did not start with a dream.”
But despite extensive research, British and French journalists were unable to track down the mystery quote to any play or sonnet by William Shakespeare.
This is hardly surprising, as it can now be disclosed that the true author is alive and well. He is the Telegraph’s chief book reviewer. Nicholas Shakespeare, journalist, novelist, biographer and direct descendant of William’s grandfather, said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the French presidential candidate had quoted me.” He instantly recognised the words as coming from his 1989 novel, The Vision of Elena Silves.
It is unlikely to help Mr Hollande’s campaign to discover they were uttered by the novel’s hero, Gabriel, a Maoist revolutionary who ends up a terrorist for the murderous Peruvian guerrilla group, Shining Path. Their motto was: “Marxism – Leninism will open the shining path to revolution”…He is saying the last Marxist revolution of the Sixties had failed, but his is going to succeed and the idea is that they failed because they did not have a dream,” said Mr Shakespeare.
Well, at least he didn’t attribute the quote to Francis Bacon. The painter, that is.