Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Really short, but really enjoyable!
It's not a surprise that this is short. First off, it belongs as part of a series of concise biographies. Secondly, there isn't much known about Shakespeare, so biographies of him should be short. Why go on and on about something if there's nothing to go on about?!
The larger of them tend to devote many pages to dissecting the plays. Bryson does not. That was a little bit disappointing...but only a little. I've spent enough time dissecting them. I'd rather just work on enjoying these days, not analyzing them.
I'm glad Bryson touched on the authorship question. "Did Shakespeare write all this stuff?" I entertained the notion when I encountered it back in school, but having looked at the evidence and given it a good think, I've come to the conclusion that it is a ludicrous question. Bryson agrees and lays out why.
Is this a scholarly work? No. But have you seen some of what passes for such? I'm okay with this. It seems like sound logic deduced from absorbing sound work on the topic. After all (and for example) one of the leading proponents of the anti-Shakespeare movement was a woman who wanted to claim all of the plays for her cousin Sir Francis Bacon. She was biased and, as it turns out, crazy. Her book on the subject was widely dismissed at the time of publication as ridiculous, but the idea lingered, took shape and went on to have a long second life in quarters that rely on scanty evidence or none at all. And yet they persist. It all seems absurd.
Anywhoodle. Looking for a basic bio on Shakespeare? Here it is!
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