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Shakespeare: The World as Stage (Eminent Lives) Paperback – October 21, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
First off, Bryson doesn't shy away from the fact that we know very little about Shakespeare, instead, he uses it to his advantage. After laying out the facts we do have about Shakespeare, Bryson turns to a description of the world in which Shakespeare lived to explain why we know so little about the man. He really brings 17th century England to life and paints a picture in which you can imagine Shakespeare operating. It's really well done and ends up being fascinating.
Second, Bryson addresses the speculation that has risen up around Shakespeare's life to fill the void of knowledge that we face. Using the information we do have about Shakespeare and the times in which he lived, he categorizes the various Shakespeare theories into more fanciful and less fanciful piles and explains why they belong there. It makes for really interesting reading.
My familiarity with and interest in Shakespeare are average to below average, and yet I found this book to be fascinating, readable and informative. It's made me more interested in Shakespeare.
Highly recommended even for those who aren't deeply interested in Shakespeare.
This is not a scholarly dissertation (thank goodness) which tries to pass itself off as the beginning and end of all that was ever written about the life of Shakespeare. It is a short study of just what we do not know about him, which we find, is quite a lot! I picked up absolutely dozens and dozens of facts as to what I did not know, and until I read this book, did not realize I did not know. In addition to this I picked up some wonderful trivia (and some information that was not trivial at all) concerning the era in which Shakespeare wrote, if indeed, he wrote during that era. I had no idea of the words and phrases, which happen to number in the hundreds, which were introduced to the English Language via Shakespeare. As one reviewer has pointed out, this is really not a biography, but rather a history lesson, a lesson of little facts that you would not normally be exposed to. Bryson has done his home work and we have all benefitted from his seemingly endless curiosity.
Now for those folks who are Shakespearian scholars.Read more ›
The book relates all that is actually known about Shakespeare, points out the many things that are not known and touches on the major problem areas, including the authorship controversy. Like Jack Webb on the old "Dragnet" TV show, Bryson pretty much keeps to "just the facts" but does note many of the areas of speculation in which Shakespeare students routinely indulge. He does all this in a smooth and flowing prose and with energy and wit.
The book has no index, no scholarly footnotes and only a minimal bibliography of a few secondary sources. There is evidently little or no documentary research, although Bryson obviously read what books he should and interviewed a number of knowledgeable people for the book. He takes no position on any of the controversies except the question of authorship, on which he is a firm Stratfordian. The book is strictly about Shakespeare's life, however, and makes almost no effort to discuss the poems and plays as works of literature. Couldn't do that and keep it short.
This is an excellent book for someone who wants to begin to learn about Shakespeare's life and (to some extent) his times. And it is a fun fast read for those who want a handy and short summary of what is known and what some of the problems are.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very stimulating read which I found had me doing a lot of (light) research as I progressed through the book. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Chris
This is much more than just a biography of William Shakespeare. I would say it's even more of a fascinating glimpse of life in late-sixteenth & early-seventeenth century England. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sir Roderick
It's not very academic, and we don't know a lot about Shakespeare. And we don't need another book about him anyway; Bryson just needs to fill in his series. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Maria Beadnell
Having read and watched shows on whether Shakespeare was a real person, I decided to get Bill Bryson's word on the subject. Read morePublished 2 months ago by DS OCNJ
This is a fabulous starter book for anyone who wants to learn about Shakespeare's background, his period in history and lots of other weighty and light trivia. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Noriko Tsuchihashi
Fascinating description of a fascinating era by the somewhat thanks to Bryson, demystified Shakespeare. Great way to feel the pulse of society and daily life at the time.Published 2 months ago by Christopher Leach
A good historical overview with the entertaining style of Bryson ---- I love Shakespeare and I learned a lotPublished 3 months ago by Kenneth Todd