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Shakespeare: The World as a Stage

Shakespeare: The World as a Stage

Book rating: 05 Paperback Harper Perennial

By (author) Bill Bryson

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  • Publisher: HarperPerennial
  • Format: Paperback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 194mm x 18mm | 200g
  • Publication date: 1 April 2008
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 000719790X
  • ISBN 13: 9780007197903
  • Sales rank: 4,927

Product description

From bestselling author Bill Bryson comes this compelling short biography of William Shakespeare, our greatest dramatist and poet. Examining centuries of myths, half-truths and downright lies, Bill Bryson makes sense of the man behind the masterpieces. As he leads us through the crowded streets of Elizabethan England, he brings to life the places and characters that inspired Shakespeare's work. Along the way he delights in the inventiveness of Shakespeare's language, which has given us so many of the indispensable words and phrases we use today, and celebrates the Bard's legacy to our literature, culture and history. Drawing together information from a vast array of sources, this is a masterful account of the life and works of William Shakespeare, one of the most famous and most enigmatic people ever to have lived - not to mention a classic piece of Bill Bryson.

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Author information

Bill Bryson's internationally bestselling books include 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' (shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize), 'A Walk in the Woods', 'Neither Here Nor There', 'Made in America', 'Notes from a Small Island', 'The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid' and, most recently, 'At Home'. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, he now lives in Norfolk with his wife and four children.

Customer reviews

By Tom Swade 26 Aug 2009 5

I really don't like reading or watching Shakepeare but this history of the English language's greatest writer does interest me. And anything by Bryson is right up my alley. A thoroughly good read.

Review quote

'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

Editorial reviews

A telling glance at one of history's most famously unknowable figures.As sometimes happens with expatriates, journalist Bryson (The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir, 2006, etc.) often turned his attention to his native America during his 20-year residence in England (Made in America, 1995, etc.). Apparently he's now been back home long enough to look the other way in this 12th volume in James Atlas's well-received Eminent Lives series. And who better fits the bill for this assortment of brief biographies than Shakespeare, the literary behemoth who practically defines the Western canon yet boasts a CV that could hardly be slimmer. As the typically wry Bryson observes, "It is because we have so much of Shakespeare's work that we can appreciate how little we know of him as a person. faced with a wealth of text but a poverty of context, scholars have focused obsessively on what they can know." Bryson is just as happy to point out what we can't. To him, Shakespeare is the "literary equivalent of an electron - forever there and not there." Indeed, he makes so much of the fact that so much has been made from the singularly few known facts of the Bard's life that one might say this thin volume's raison d'etre is to identify the many paradoxes surrounding all things Shakespeare, which Bryson candidly illuminates in several deft turns of phrase. That is as good a tack as any to take in this sort of Cliffs Notes - style overview of the rich afterlife and times of Shakespeare, recognized as great, Bryson claims, for his "positive and palpable appreciation of the transfixing power of language" - a point on which even those who don't believe Shakespeare was Shakespeare would agree, and a trait he happens to share with his biographer.Shakespeare redux for the common reader. (Kirkus Reviews)