Shakespeare: The World as a Stage Paperback – 24 Mar 2016
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‘A delight…A gem of a book.’ Mail on Sunday
‘Witty and infectiously enthusiastic.’ Spectator
'A brilliantly funny and gently insightful travel guide to 16th century England. Bryson is great at picking out of the morass of Elizabethan fact the small details that illuminate and amuse…he also uncovers from the world that surrounded the theatre some fascinating examples of Elizabethan eccentricity…As an abbreviated tour around the world of Shakespeare, this could hardly be bettered.' Sunday Times
‘Bryson uses an inimitably light touch and squeezes a vast subject down to manageable proportions…he is a warm and funny guide through the whole complicated morass of Shakespearean scholarship.’ Financial Times
From the Back Cover
William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself.
Bryson documents the efforts of earlier scholars, from today’s most respected academics to eccentrics like Delia Bacon, an American who developed a firm but unsubstantiated conviction that her namesake Francis Bacon was the true author of Shakespeare’s plays ― she spent months in silence at Bacon’s home, ‘absorbing atmospheres’ that bolstered her theory. With shades of his famous travelogues, Bryson records episodes in his research, including a visit to a bunker-like basement room in Washington, D.C., where the world’s largest collection of First Folios is housed.
Bryson celebrates Shakespeare as a writer of unimaginable talent and enormous inventiveness, a coiner of phrases (‘vanish into thin air’, ‘foregone conclusion’, ‘one fell swoop’) that even today have a home at the tips of our tongues. His Shakespeare is like no-one else’s ― the beneficiary of Bryson’s genial nature, his engaging scepticism, and a gift for storytelling unrivalled in our time.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The only complaint I have about this book is that I wish it had been longer, since Bill Bryson writes about his subject so entertainingly. However, Mr Bryson has evidentl taken to heart Shakespeare's own aphorism "brevity is the soul of wit."
So, Bryson has produced just what his publishers wanted, a brief biography that anyone can read and learn from, which appears both learned and well researched on the one hand, but also enjoyable and amusing on the other.
So why only three stars? Well, the book comes across exactly as what it is, a commission. "Bill, could you write us a brief book about Shakespeare?" As such it firstly it feels a bit cobbled together, a bit rushed off. Secondly it is rather lacking in depth. Thirdly it rather lacks structure jumping erractically between the specifics of Shakespeare's life and the generalities of the world around him.
I am probably being over critical, in that the book does exactly what it says on the tin and is well worth a read. I just feel that if the drive to write the book had come from Bill Bryson rather than being a commission, the end result would have been a deeper more satisfying work.
So in summary, recommended as a good light read, just don't expect too much.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not for the likes of me, but a gift for somebody more deserving. I'm sure it will be all good.Published 1 month ago by Ian Atkinson
This book is like having a conversation with Bryson and being given enough information to understand it. Very enjoyable readPublished 1 month ago by BusyBee
Bryson's writing could enliven the driest topic, and parts of this history of W.S. are pretty dry. I was informed and entertained. Read morePublished 2 months ago
This is a very good read. It is not a biography, in the strict sense of the term. rather a palliative to all those biographies that embellish, speculate and claim to know what,... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jeff
Really good book, cutting through the myths and speculations and just sticking to what we absolutely definitely know about Shakespeare. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mr. S. Reid