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on 12 July 1999
The first bio of Shakespeare I've actually been able to finish! Honan's approach is reasonable, intelligent, and well-researched. It also happens to be quite interesting, providing not only the best and most tantalizing of the available evidence of Shakespeare's life, but also by painting a portrait of the milieu in which he lived and worked. Never before has Shakespeare's achievement seemed so towering, and yet so human. Much better by far than Bloom's bloated and self-serving paean. Although slightly marred by Honan's quirky style, and by the mysterious sudden disappearance from the narrative of Anne (Hathaway) Shakespeare before the poet's death, it nonetheless held me in thrall all weekend. I hate the phrase, but it's a definite "must-read"!
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on 27 April 1999
Honan does much to firmly establish William Shakespeare as a solid citizen (if also tax dodger). He gives no handle at all to those who would charge him with homosexuality or even adultery and offers plausible explanations for many disputed aspects of the poet's life. But it is a dreadfully lifeless, plodding, life. It takes a really strong prior interest in Shakespeare to persevere through this book. Those coming first to Shakespeare should avoid it, unless they themselves are doing research and need an excellent guide to sources and interpretation thereof.
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on 21 June 1999
What a sad, resourceless bunch of readers your lay reviwers are. The author makes plain at the start the remit of his book, to eschew the romantic speculation about the `bard's' life in favour of a meticulous examination of the facts. This does not make the book `booring,' far from it. If you want cheap thrills, stick to Star Wars. For the intelligent lay-reader with half a brain, this book take a little while to get into, but the effort is well worth it, repaid by insight into London at that time, the theatrical world (in London)and much, much more. I found it enriched my understanding of a much-discussed, much-mythologised figure. Ignore the carpers. Top banana.
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on 26 March 1999
This book was not written for the faint of heart. Long plane trips and idle vacation time is all that allowed me to finish it. It does dwell on the public record and factual evidence, and only guesses at the subject's state of mind in a very guarded way. I appreciate this tentativeness. However, take detailed notes and carry an unabridged dictionary with you to enable you to follow the author from page to page. A detailed knowledge of 16th and 17th century English language usage wouldn't hurt either.
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on 7 May 1999
An excellent and as thoroughly as possible knowable account (for now), of the Bards life. Scholarly, and sometimes dense, but accessible and an enjoyable pleasure for the well-read in literature, Shakespeare, the theatre, etc.; especially those finding delight in the details. It does, however, lack the passion of Blooms's "Shakespeare, The Invention of the Human". The latter book which draws on Shakespeare's plays exclusively and exhaustively soars with soul-deep passion to great heights of pure joy in the expression of Shakespeare's words, emotion and humanism. Bloom's Shakespeare, if you have the time and interest, is a 5-star book. Well worth it actually even if you only delve into some of the plays.
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on 12 May 1999
The sad fact is, like Jesus, we don't know a lot about Shakespeare-and this title demonstrates it. Read it only if you have an academic-level interest in the subject and want lots of conjecture regarding what WS *might* have done. Many, many digressions; much speculation; some good insights regarding bases for the plays and sonnets. No doubt written by a respected, committed scholar. Nnot for the casual reader who desires lay-level understanding.
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