Will Paperback – 9 Oct 2008
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'Startlingly poetic - excellent' -- The Spectator
'This fictional autobiography does more than eulogize - Burgess is the only other novelist to pass this test' -- Times Literary Supplement
'A brilliantly witty and imaginative piece of writing' --Classic FM
'[It's] lewd, fun, touching and downright fascinating [. . .] The delicious characters and moments just keep on coming' --Bookbag
'Rush has a deep connection to Shapespeare's language, and brings it back to life in this witty account of an extraordinary life' --The Lady --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Christopher Rush was born in St Monans and taught literature for thirty years a teacher of literature in Edinburgh. His books include A Twelvemonth and a Day and the highly acclaimed To Travel Hopefully. A Twelvemonth and a Day served as inspiration for the film Venus Peter, released in 1989. The story was also reworked by Rush in a simplified version in 1992 as a children's picture book, Venus Peter Saves the Whale, illustrated by Mairi Hedderwick, which won the Friends of the Earth 1993 Earthworm Award for the book published that year that would most help children to enjoy and care for the Earth. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Rush casts a clever eye on the political, social and religious aspects of Elizabethan and Jacobean England, investing with freshness the familiar episodes and documents of Shakespeare's life. The prose is larded with quotes from Shakespeare and others), all done with a purpose.
The whole camaraderie of the Globe Theatre is beautifully etched, with wondrous detail on their co-ownership of the Globe and their bequests to each other. Also the Christopher Marlowe episode and the accession of James I.
Teeth-gnashingly, women don't seem to have minds of their own in the book. Anne Hathaway is presented as Shakespeare's first lust; Shakespeare has a fictional affair with Jacqueline Vautrollier; and his wretched encounters with Emilia Bassano (the "Dark Lady") are best forgotten. The fictional Alison shows her gratitude for Shakespeare's gift of cash by partially stripping for him. It's an unlikely scenario. Even the Bard is astonished.
Of the last plays, we learn: "The girl-heroines are re-inventions of Hamnet [Shakespeare's dead son], of Edmund [Shakespeare's dead brother]. Over and over your author is asking a dead boy to forgive him for letting him die." So that's it, then. The girls are actually boys.
I found this a perplexing read. And yet, for its originality and poetry, its notable research and illumination, I recommend it.
In a strange way also, it's slightly easier to read if you try to forget it's supposed to be a novel at all, and take it as a long - very long! - prose poem. Slightly easier anyway. It would definitely be interesting to see what Rush's poetry is like. I must also admit that the man Shakespeare as portrayed here rapidly became very wearisome and my sympathies were for those poor unfortunates he rubbed up against, such as Anne Hathaway and the long-suffering lawyer (just let the poor man eat his pie without carping on about it, for goodness sake!).
So, as I imagine the real Shakespeare must have been quite fascinating, I suppose in making me dislike him, Rush must at least be performing some kind of literary miracle. In a negative way. That said, the historical details are very vibrant and obviously well researched. Perhaps it would be better rewritten as a non-fiction study of the age? And it certainly needs an editor who's not afraid to cut - it outstays its welcome hugely in terms of length. So, a brave attempt at something different by an author who can obviously write (but needs much much tighter control), but in the end a magnificent failure, I fear.
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