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
Really good book, cutting through the myths and speculations and just sticking to what we absolutely definitely know about Shakespeare. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Mr. S. Reid
Mr Bryson needs no plaudits..his genius lies with his ability to convey big ideas in a most pleasantly worded fashion.. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
Good, well researched book that unlike some Bryson books is not to long! Very enjoyable.Published 18 days ago by David James
Excellent read, easy reading and informative in Bill Bryson's usual way. Quite a short book but does not suffer from this, packed with information and never dull.Published 1 month ago by jnb
It isn't as hefty as the Jonathan Bate book in Shakespeare. However it is the best guide to all we KNOW about the man. No silly theories. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mr
paints a picture of the characters of those times beautifully interspersed with factoids and intertwines the main theme with related sub stories.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
A really well researched book about Shakespeare illustrating how little is really known about Shakespeare's personal life. It is honest and readable. Read morePublished 1 month ago by anna