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Shakespeare: The World as Stage (Eminent…
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Shakespeare: The World as Stage (Eminent Lives) (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Bill Bryson

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2,8941171,997 (3.82)119
Member:OzzieJello
Title:Shakespeare: The World as Stage (Eminent Lives)
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Eminent Lives (2007), Hardcover, 208 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
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Tags:History, Wishlist

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Shakespeare: The World as a stage by Bill Bryson (2007)

  1. 00
    Introducing Shakespeare by G. B. Harrison (Waldstein)
    Waldstein: Older and shorter, more scholarly but only slightly less witty, introduction. Mr Harrison's accounts of the Elizabethan playhouse and the development of Shakespeare's style are erudite and illuminating. Contains also revealing excerpts from Shakespearean criticism through the centuries (Dryden, Pope, Dr Jonhson, Coleridge). Excellent complement to Mr Bryson's book. Be sure to get (post-)1954 edition (the year of last revision, first published in 1939). Very little dated. Excellent bibliography of scholarly editions of original documents (Henslowe's Diary and Papers, the volumes edited by E. K. Chambers, Mr Harrison's own Elizabethan Journals, and others).… (more)
  2. 11
    Shakespeare by Anthony Burgess (edwinbcn)
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Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
Once again Bill Bryson has produced a delightfully lighthearted and effortlessly informative read. Details or Shakespeare, the monarchy of his day, and the present puddle of corroborated details of his works are sewn together to paint a thoroughly descriptive portrait of all we still cannot know of the great bard. This book is an excellent introduction for those just getting to know the works of Shakespeare and an equally eye-opening delve into all the misinformation surrounding him that is sure to surprise even the biggest of fans.
  VictoriaBrodersen | Jul 24, 2015 |
Exclellent, light, interesting. ( )
  mnicol | Mar 7, 2015 |
Bryson admits that there is not much to say about Shakespeare without being in danger of extrapolating too far from what little we know, and that accounts for the slimness of this volume. Otherwise a well-written introduction to the Bard, one that whets the appetite without ever cloying. ( )
1 vote soylentgreen23 | Nov 8, 2014 |
Excellent. Informative. Interesting. ( )
  bibliostuff | Mar 20, 2014 |
Okay, really it should be 3 stars, but it's engaging enough to win the 4th on pure charm.

What I loved most was how frequently Bryson reminds the reader that there is no evidence for certain conjectures -- but when there IS evidence, he presents it clearly. He gives balanced pros and cons to theories that could go either way, and he addresses the history of faulty and fraudulent Shakespearean scholarship. As for the authorship debate, he refutes the Baconian and Oxfordian arguments with a hilarious, "We have no proof Shakespeare owned any pants or shoes, either."

Also, he states outright that Shakespeare can be read as a gay poet and dramatist. No dithering. He also discusses the sonnets and the arguments concerning their assumed recipients at length, and reminds readers that James I used to make out with handsome young men in the midst of performing court business.

There were also interesting interviews with archivists that put the state and difficultly of the scholarship itself into context. My inner librarian was very happy about that.

The parts of the book concerning the history of the competing theatres didn't work for me at all, however. It was brief, confusing, and seemed possibly to conflate entirely different buildings, although I actually didn't stop to track down the discrepancies. The Ackroyd book was much clearer on what happened with which property under whose ownership (or tenancy) when, and Ackroyd's various histories of London and Britain lead me to trust his research in this and other questions of setting and daily life (where evidence exists involving other people for the same place and time, and so inserting Shakespeare into it is rational).

Awesome palate cleanser. ( )
2 vote sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
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To Finley and Molly and in memory of Maisie
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Before he came into a lot of money in 1839, Richard Plantagenet Temple Nugent Brydges Chandos Grenville, second Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, led a largely uneventful life.
Quotations
We don't know if [Shakespeare] ever left England. We don't know who his principal companions were or how he amused himself. His sexuality is an irreconcilable mystery. On only a handful of days in his life can we say with complete certainty where he was. . . . For the rest, he is a kind of literary equivalent of an electron—forever there and not there.
In fact it cannot be emphasized too strenuously that there is nothing—not a scrap, not a mote—that gives any certain insight into Shakespeare's feelings or beliefs as a private person. We can know only what came out of his work, never what went into it.
One variation [of bearbaiting] was to put a chimpanzee on the back of a horse and let the dogs go for both together. The sight of a screeching ape clinging for dear life to a bucking horse while dogs leaped at it from below was considered about as rich an amusement as public life could offer. That an audience that could be moved to tears one day by a performance of Doctor Faustus could return the next to the same space and be just as entertained by the frantic deaths of helpless animals may say as much about the age as any single statement could.
[I]t needs to be said that nearly all of the anti-Shakespeare sentiment—actually all of it, every bit—involves manipulative scholarship or sweeping misstatements of fact.
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Wikipedia in English (5)

Book description
Haiku summary
William Shakespeare: at
Once the best and least known of
Figures. Well put, Bill!
(passion4reading)
A biography
Of the Bard: amazingly
Little is known, though.
(passion4reading)
Shakespeare: Who? What? Why?
Bill can't answer these questions
In extensive depth.
(WilliamOrmond)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060740221, Hardcover)

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. Emulating the style of his famous travelogues, Bryson records episodes in his research, including a visit to a bunkerlike 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 common currency. His Shakespeare is like no one else's—the beneficiary of Bryson's genial nature, his engaging skepticism, and a gift for storytelling unrivaled in our time.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:25 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

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 supposition arranged around scant facts. With his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself. Bryson documents the efforts of earlier scholars, and, emulating the style of his travelogues, records episodes in his own research. He 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 common currency. His Shakespeare is like no one else's--the beneficiary of Bryson's genial nature, his engaging skepticism, and an unrivaled gift for storytelling.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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