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Soul of the Age: The Life, Mind and World of William Shakespeare [Paperback]

Jonathan Bate
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
Price: 7.69 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

4 Jun 2009

Jonathan Bate's Soul of the Age brings us closer than ever to understanding what being Shakespeare was actually like.

How did plague turn Shakespeare from a jobbing hack into a courtly poet? How did Bottom's dream rewrite the Bible? How did Shakespeare's plays lead to the deaths of an earl and a king? And why was he the one dramatist of his generation never to be imprisoned?

Weaving a dazzling tapestry of Elizabethan beliefs and obsessions, private passions and political intrigues, Soul of the Age leads us on an exhilarating tour of the extraordinary, colourful and often violent world that shaped and informed Shakespeare's thinking. Written by one of the world's leading experts, it combines almost everything there is to know about the man and his work in one sensational narrative.

'Bate probably knows as much as any single person can know about Shakespeare ... Surprising, fresh, exhilarating, brilliant', Guardian

'Intensely enjoyable ... you find yourself gasping with pleasure' John Carey, Sunday Times

Jonathan Bate is Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick, chief editor of The RSC Shakespeare: Complete Works and the author of many books, including most recently John Clare: A Biography, which won the Hawthornden Prize for Literature and the James Tait Black Prize for Biography. A Fellow of the British Academy, he was awarded a CBE in 2006.


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Soul of the Age: The Life, Mind and World of William Shakespeare + The Genius of Shakespeare + Shakespeare's Britain
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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141015861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141015866
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Bate is Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick, chief editor of The RSC Shakespeare: Complete Works and the author of many books, including most recently John Clare: A Biography, which won the Hawthornden Prize for Literature and the James Tait Black Prize for Biography. A Fellow of the British Academy, he was awarded a CBE in 2006.

Product Description

Review

'An excellent writer ! he achieves a resonant and complex portrait, constantly alert to new lines of enquiry and unexpected conclusions ... A triumph of precision, learning and intelligent innovation' - Charles Nicholl, Sunday Telegraph, Book of the Week 'Bate probably knows as much as any single person can know about Shakespeare ... Surprising, fresh, exhilarating, brilliant' - Richard Eyre, Guardian 'Wholehearted applause for Bate's portrayal of Shakespeare's world ... it is pure pleasure ... I defy any reader, no matter how saturated in Shakespeare, not to find something new here' Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Jonathan Bate is Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick, chief editor of The RSC Shakespeare: Complete Works and the author of many books, including most recently John Clare: A Biography, which won the Hawthornden Prize for Literature and the James Tait Black Prize for Biography. A Fellow of the British Academy, he was awarded a CBE in 2006.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By Mark Meynell TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I would imagine Jonathan Bate's lectures are a joy - his books certainly make for excellent company. Having enjoyed his The Genius of Shakespeare many years ago, this book is an excellent follow-up. This book seeks to put Shakespeare in context - and, as the subtitle explains, lay out something of the bard's 'life, mind and world'. Of course, extensive biographical details are elusive - which in part explains why curiosity if not controversy about his identity is rife. Bate nevertheless manages to assemble as thorough a picture as possible. He draws on a wide range of historical scholarship (for example, in his depiction of the legal system at the time, as well as the sort of Tudor grammar school education that Shakespeare will certainly have received - then providing good evidence from its manifestations in the plays). He is particularly good at using this to debunk the "Shakespeare's not Shakespeare brigade" - e.g. illustrating it with details from the plays that only a Warwickshire lad could possibly have known.

The structure of the book is so brilliantly simple and yet (to my knowledge), no one has thought of it before: structure the book around the 7 ages of man, from Jaques renowned speech from As You Like It. This makes the book easy to follow - but also allows scope for in-depth explorations of Shakespeare's progress through life and the world, even where the biographical details are minimal. There were moments where I got a bit bogged down (not being a Tudor historian) - e.g. in the business of Essex's fall and its impact on Shakespeare and the theatres. But most of the time, I was gripped and looking forward to the next pearl or insight.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into Shakespeare 10 April 2010
Format:Paperback
A compelling portrait of Shakespeare and his times. I found I could not put it down and it enhanced my opinion o0f the reasons behind Shakespeare's plays and enhanced the view of the world at the time in which he wrote. Invaluable accompaniament to enjoyment of Shakespeare both to read and to watch in the theatre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A well-researched and readable book. 27 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As to be expected from a book by Joanna Bate, he manages to find a new but illuminating angle on his much studied subject and make it fascinating.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bringing insight into the genius of Shakespeare 8 July 2009
By Keith Lawson VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While reading this book, it becomes so very apparent that we are unlikely to create another Shakespeare ever. All the conditions that made the man, the style and content of education, the political intrigues in an unsettled England, and the religious tension are unlikely to ever exist again. To read this is to appreciate a past that is not taught in our schools, more the pity. For any lover of Shakespeare, his contempories (Johnson, Marlow, Webster) and Tudor England this book is to be recommended.
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