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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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3,0841301,837 (3.81)127
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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Shakespeare: The World as Stage (Eminent Lives) by Bill Bryson (2007)

Recently added bykathrynirena, jpporter, baydi, ptfh, Wereon, private library, whiff, gerhardn, Flick-Imrie, GwenMcGinty
  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 124 (next | show all)
The 400th anniversary of the Bard's death has prompted me to read a number of Shakespeare-themed books and this fairly short biography by Bill Bryson is the latest. It covers what we actually know about the life of Shakespeare, which is comparatively very little (though this is still more than we know about the lives of most of his contemporary authors), and about the world in which he thrived at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries. One point that emerges clearly is how lucky we are to have nearly all his plays surviving, thanks to his colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell who compiled the First Folio of his plays a few years after his death, and without whose endeavours we would probably lack half of his plays entirely. In the final two chapters, the author considers Shakespeare's legacy and the extraordinary claims of those who contend that Shakespeare did not really write his own plays, a claim that no contemporary ever made and that was not made by anyone until nearly two centuries after his death. This book is not a detailed literary or academic biography, but it covers the background to Shakespeare's life and times in a way that is likely to appeal to a wide range of readers. Very good. ( )
  john257hopper | May 5, 2016 |
It seemed fitting to read a non-fiction book about Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death. In this rather slim book, the author discusses not just what is known about The Bard but puts that information in context with historical facts of the times. It is so slim because very little can be truly confirmed about him. Despite this, the author makes a compelling case for who Shakespeare was, and why his legacy has endured. ( )
2 vote BooksForYears | Apr 24, 2016 |
Very convincing that the man was the man. Missed Bryson's humor. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
This book is refreshingly direct. Bryson makes it clear right away that we know virtually nothing about Shakespeare, the man. He pads out 150 or so pages with the sort of thing that he does so well - curious contemporary facts and statistics, and interesting anecdotes. The little hard evidence about the Bard of Avon is described fully, birth record, will and the like, and the book ends with a dozen pages about 'Claimants'. These are not really claimants of the authorship but rather candidates put forward posthumously by crazy, obsessed or simply misguided folk as alternatives for the title of Britain's Greatest Playwright. I particularly enjoyed this last chapter. Bryson gives them all pretty short shrift using the, for me, irrefutable argument that while there is very little known about Shakespeare there is absolutely no documentary evidence to connect these candidates with the works of William Shakespeare. ( )
2 vote abbottthomas | Feb 26, 2016 |
This is worth reading just for the last chapter in which Bryson concisely and eloquently shows up the Anti-Stratfordians for what they are, namely delusional.

The rest is a light, breezy read through the available facts about the various stages of Shakespeare's life and career. It's a quick read and is very accessible but it has a tinge of academia about it, mainly because Bryson is, as always, well-researched and is careful to avoid the pitfalls of assumption that he highlights in other, less robust, commentators.

If you're new to Shakespeare studies, start here for a well-written survey of what we know, what we think we know and what we clearly do not yet know. If you're an old hand read this for the entertainment value and the confirmatory warm fuzzy feelings that come with that last chapter! ( )
1 vote MartynChuzz | Feb 22, 2016 |
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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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