Friday, February 13, 2009

"Shakespeare: The World As Stage" Bill Bryson

It amazes me how little we know about the man who brought us so many amazing plays. Shakespeare's plays have made it into the course syllabus of almost every high school English class, they have been performed in many theatres, and have been made into many great movies! The world of literature owes much to the man who we know so little about.

"Shakespeare: The World as Stage" is part of the "Eminent Lives" series about many famous people who have changed the world as we know it. Although I generally don't read biographies, I found this one fascinating and informative as well as fast-paced and it didn't take me long to read through it.

Many, many historians and Shakespeare enthusiasts have spent years trying to find out more about this great man whom we know so little about. We know when he was born, and we know a little about his father. We know that he married and had three children, but we know nothing about what his family life was like or how he felt towards his wife. We have no idea in which order he wrote his plays or what influenced them. There are years of his life that are complete blanks to us; we don't know where he was during these lost years or what he was doing.

What we do know for certain could fit onto a handful of written pages and comes from the unreliable legal records of the time. Speculation about his life and the inspiration for his works is rampant and enthusiastic, not to mention creative, but it remains only speculation. This book was a wonderful summary of what we know (and mainly what we don't know) about the man who brought us plays such as Julius Ceasar, Romeo and Juliet, and Othello. This was a fascinating look into the life of someone who brought us so much, yet left behind so little of himself. A must read for anyone who has ever wondered about the man behind the words.

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