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Shakespeare: The World as Stage By Bill Bryson Paperback – October 16, 2008


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Paperback, October 16, 2008
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (October 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004RBXV0E
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on November 4, 2011
Bill Bryson seems incapable of writing non-interesting books. He once again entertains and informs in his witty way with "Shakespeare - The World As Stage."

This is not a biography of the Bard; for as Bryson points out what we really know about William Shakespeare could fit the length of this Amazon review. What Bryson does is provide an excellent background piece on what little we do know of "the English Language's Greatest Writer" by exploring where he came from, what life was like generally in his time and how the theater and actor/writers worked as they entertained the masses in London and the countryside.

I find Bryson's tangents wonderfully informative and highly amusing. He is really defined by presenting fascinating nuggets and droll commentary in his works and he doesn't deviate from his platform here. The reader will learn of the number and examples of words the Bard introduced into the English language as well as turns of phrases that are his ("tower of strength" to list one). Errors Shakespeare made (yes, he was not immune from imperfection) as well as quick overviews of his work are also covered in as much as they may help describe the man. Digressions on other contemporary playwrights, the two monarchs in whose reigns he lived and worked, and various and sundry other notables who have at least a tangential relationship to the Bard, theater, politics and life in general in this period make this a broad work that interests by sampling from many characters.

Bryson does give excellent tidbit-treatment to Shakespeare's plays and his effect on the written language.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 31, 2011
There is much discussion as to whether or not Will Shakespeare actually wrote the plays and verse that bear his name. The majority of theories otherwise seem to be based on the idea that a man with Shakespeare's limited experience of the world beyond the Home Counties simply lacked the knowledge to have written so well about its history and prominent citizens. I've always thought that a rather snobbish attitude, implying that the great unwashed -- with whom I number myself -- are incapable of getting an education without including travel in the curriculum. Personally, I don't care who wrote the stuff. Just as it doesn't matter to me that he lived centuries before my time, I don't see that the provenance of the writing matters much. Old Will and his supposed betters are long gone, and beyond their own writing (in most cases) there is little to recommend the proposition one way or another. I just enjoy reading Shakespeare. That, however, doesn't mean a gifted writer can't have some fun with the question.

Bill Bryson pursues his whimsy and comes away laughing and counting his money. He has explored the British Isles, the history of the English language, Astronomy, the concept of being "at home," and Walked the Appalachian Trail (among other pursuits), and he has written one best-selling book after another about his adventures. Now he turns his hand to a discussion of that most enigmatic of writers, the Bard of Avon. From his earliest education to the several pretenders to the quill, to the real subject of the Sonnets, we gain interesting rumors regarding his (probable) gender preferences, his relationship with his wife and children, and a dollop of information regarding the politics and art of Elizabethan England. Whether or not Bryson actually solves the question "Who was the real Shakespeare?" I will leave up to you, gentle readers. May you enjoy the pursuit as well as the knowledge.
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By Pat Medina on May 11, 2014
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Bill Bryson can make the dullest of topics fun to explore. His style is witty and practical and well researched. Can't get enough of him! This brought the exploration of the Bard's life to a humorous conclusion!
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I enjoyed Bill Bryson's insights on just how much we do not know about Shakespeare. For me the background on the Elizabethan period was helpful. We truly know so little. It was a light read and easily accessible for all ages..
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