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on 5 September 2014
Insightful and intelligent as usual from Peter Brook. He skewers the Oxfordians quite well, although one felt he could hardly raise the energy to do it, so bored is he with them. I always enjoy his books. He remains outside the mainstream with his opinions, is unpretentious and original. And clear. A bit expensive for 160 well-spaced pages, but if it helps finance more projects from him, so much the better.
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on 18 January 2015
This is not particularly a bad book, it's just... Not very good. I can't even be facetious and say it's sound and fury signifying nothing, because that would imply there's some sound and fury, some passion, in this book, and there really doesn't seem to be much. For a man who's directed Shakespeare's plays and presumably knows them well, this collection of essays comes across as peculiarly lightweight. To be honest, if I'd read this without any awareness of the author and had then been told he was an amateur director and Shakespesre enthusiast, I would have believed it, and might well still have been disappointed.

Overall it is probably enjoyable enough if you want one man's ruminations on Shakespeare, but insightful? Brilliant? No, I just can't agree.

I have to agree with a previous reviewer that the essay on "Was Shakespeare really Shakespeare?" was.. lacking. And I speak as one who sees no reason to believe that Shakespeare didn't write the plays attributed to him. Basically, the conclusion is something along the lines of "well, he was a genius, right?" Gee, I never could have come to that conclusion without such insight from a director... Brook may well be the genius he's described as, but if he is, I couldn't tell from this book.

A great disappointment.
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on 21 June 2014
as always from Brook a deeply insightful and profound musings, free from academic intellectualism or any tedious literary analysis. nails the many 'it was Shakespeare who wrote them' nonsenses with humorous aplomb.
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on 18 June 2016
This is a wonderful book written by one of the best theatre directors in the last 50 years. Brook's and comments on Shakespeare, gleaned from his many years of experience, are absolutely spot on and devoid of any mystification. A very clear and simple style of writing which makes this book a delight to read. Any fan of Shakespeare should read this little book - it certainly makes one see his writings in a very different way. I particularly liked the way that Brook completely debunks theories about Shakes[peare not having written his plays in the first chapter. And also how he has singled out the main themes that run throughout the Works.
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on 13 September 2013
very good conditions, very good quality publication, quick delivery, great book. Brook's language is like poetry: simple and very deep
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on 23 February 2015
Superb.Says more in 100 pages than many larger tomes.
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on 15 June 2013
For those who love Shakespeare and believe in the vital force underpinning his works, this is an essential book... the connection between the text and the stage and the life between the lines is utterly moving and illuminating...
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on 20 May 2013
How could one of our greatest theate directors put his thout about Shakesdpeare onto paper and be less than brilliant? Incisive, relveatory; a joy to read and own.
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on 9 November 2014
Peter Brook in the opening essay claims to counter all arguments against Shaksper of Stratford as Shakespeare. But instead of any factual evidence or reference to recent publications he gives strong unsupported opinions. There is no information and like the majority of Stratfordians he only discusses a nineteenth century Authorship book and is utterly wrong when describing it as the first time doubt was expressed. This essay is a research free zone.
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on 16 May 2013
Peter Brook in the first essay "Alas Poor Yorick" makes the absolutely central point in reviewing the authorship question, that the author of a brand new play must be hands-on at rehearsals to adapt and re-write there and then, make sure the cast are understanding and much more: which is why the anti-Stratfordian 'front man' conspiracy theories are all nonsense. He is absolutely correct. But then he writes (page 10):"this fundamental aspect has been totally overlooked" by those who reject the Stratfordian as author.
Oh no, it has not: in my tenure as secretary of the De Vere Society, I have without being contradicted been pointing out for nearly ten years that there is enough evidence to show that Edward de Vere was just that hands-on actor and producer. My original essay appeared in the Society Newsletter for January 2004 (now on the Society's website - archives): it has been expanded and repeated in the collection of essays entitled Great Oxford (2004) and now in The Earl of Oxford and the 'Making' of Shakespeare: The Literary Life of the Earl of Oxford in Context (2012) where there are thirteen pages of closely argued text and endnotes to present the case. Incidentally Peter Brook does not mention the other side of the coin: that William Shakespeare was a figure of derision to the theatrical community, as shown by the caricatures in Jonson's Every Man Out of His Humour 1599, and his acting viciously sent up in Act IV scene 1.
It is not Peter Brook's fault that he does not know the Oxfordian case: the problem is that 'orthodox' commentators prefer to erect straw men arguments like conspiracy theories rather than actually reading or finding out what Oxfordians (including Geilgud - wrongly claimed in the essay a s 'orthodox') actually believe. It saves them having to produce counterarguments ( if they can.....). Unfortunately as the 'establishment' view they hold the commanding heights in terms of publicity and esteem when the authorship question is raised, but now their biographical methods (includes those of Brook's hero James Shapiro) have been eviscerated by 'orthodox' Professor David Ellis in his book The Truth About William Shakespeare: Fact, Fiction and Modern Biographies( see my review on
In an overall survey of this book that is a minor cavil. The rest of the book is a testament to Peter Brook's undoubted genius as an interpreter and presenter of the author. Better than all the literary critics' works I know, the book comes not from a coal face, but the cutting edge of that limitless gold-mine where he finds so rich and perfect a seam. I will be reading the book again and again (save perhaps for the first essay!).
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