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Shakespeare's Restless World: A Portrait of an Era in Twenty Objects Hardcover – October 1, 2013
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*Starred Review* Shakespeare may never have owned a Cristallo-glass goblet made by the craftsmen of Venice. Yet by contemplating such a seventeenth-century object, MacGregor enters the world the Bard creates in Othello and The Merchant of Venice. Just as he did in A History of the World in 100 Objects (2010), MacGregor repeatedly converts fascinating objects into talismans transporting readers across time and geography. In this volume, 20 well-chosen artifacts open perspectives on both Shakespeare’s literary art and his historical circumstances. Readers examine, for instance, a seventeenth-century dagger and suddenly find themselves beside the doomed Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet—and among the reckless roughnecks roaming the streets of Elizabethan London. Readers likewise scrutinize a brass-handled iron fork recovered from the Rose theater, an implement amplifying Falstaff’s cry in The Merry Wives of Windsor for skies that rain potatoes and prompting reflections on the oysters that groundlings ate at Elizabethan plays. Readers even peer at a reliquary containing the eye of Catholic martyr Edward Oldcorne, a grim reminder of the cruel blinding Gloucester suffers in Lear and of the brutal real-world executions carried out scant yards from the Globe Theater. Visually splendid, intellectually stimulating, a must-buy for any library with patrons who still care about the Swan of Avon. --Bryce Christensen
Praise for Shakespeare’s Restless World
“What did Elizabethan theatergoers eat while watching Hamlet? British Museum Director MacGregor answers that question and many others as he examines 20 objects, now in museums and libraries, that illuminate daily life in Shakespearean England. . . . Beautifully illustrated, MacGregor’s history offers a vibrant portrait of Shakespeare’s dramatic, perilous, and exhilarating world.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Visually splendid, intellectually stimulating . . . Just as he did in A History of the World in 100 Objects, MacGregor repeatedly converts fascinating objects into talismans transporting readers across time and geography. In this volume, 20 well-chosen artifacts open perspectives on both Shakespeare’s literary art and his historical circumstances.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“With just a collection of twenty odd objects, Neil MacGregor offers sparkling insights into Shakespeare’s times and how the Elizabethans really lived. . . . Filled with anecdotes and insights, eerie, funny, poignant and grotesque, Shakespeare’s Restless World is another brilliant vindication of MacGregor’s understanding of how physical objects enter deep into our fore-father’s mental and spiritual world.”
—Sunday Times (London)
“MacGregor wants us to see both how the past shapes and shades our present but—equally—how strange and alien it should feel. . . . He shows time and again how the epoch-making changes that the Stratford playwright both lived through and expressed still echo through our arguments and anxieties over community and identity.”
“A revelation . . . MacGregor’s choice of clocks, mirrors, and swords opens a door on to the lost world of London’s theatregoers in and around 1600. . . . The interrogation of these objects yields a sequence of fascinating footnotes to Shakespeare’s timeless poetry.”
—The Observer (London)
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is a great way to learn a lot about shakespeare and the elizabethan era. It talks about everything from the social classes to the beauty standards, and it gives you a thorough run down of what an elizabethan theater experience would've been like. It has some pictures here and there to break things up a little,which makes it a lot less intimidating to look at. Over all it was a very helpful book and I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about shakespeare and his time period.
people, their knowledge, and their behaviors in Shakespeare's England.
A most enjoyable read.