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The Best of all Shakespearian Worlds,
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This review is from: Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (Hardcover)
I've been in love with Shakespeare and his works for four decades and read every major biography of him I could find. I've played in his plays and I've also had awful American teachers who forced us to drone through them sans understanding, sans hope. I've seen plays onstage that made my heart sing or crack, just like I've seen wooden productions that would scare anyone off him for life.
So when this book first came out, within the first chapter I realized that Greenblatt has finally climbed the mountain - a biography, impeccably written, suffused with both love for and total understanding of the world from which Shakespeare came and the plays and poems he wrote, that makes Will a real human being, not a marble icon. Not even the legendary Samuel Schoenbaum could quite pull that off.
Years later, I'm re-reading it for the fourth time and finding it even better and worth this review. Quite reasonably, Greenblatt deals with that silly theory that a middle-class working man could not "write Shakespeare" without ever addressing it - when you've finished this book, you'll know as much as humanly possible about the man Will Shakespeare and know he DID write his own plays. More importantly, you can class him, like Michelangelo, as a working man born to that ineffable quality we call genius which cannot, by its very nature, be satisfactorily explained. But Greenblatt comes as close as any writer will ever come, I think, to finding the living man inside the legend and making choices that make sense as to what Will did, where he went, who he knew, and perhaps - just perhaps - how he felt as he wrote the most beautiful plays in the world.