June 27, 2008

Review: Shakespeare:The World as Stage

Shakespeare: The World as Stage
by Bill Bryson

This was another book on CD that I listened to on my long drive last weekend. It is a short history of Shakespeare and his times read by the author. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mr. Bryson is honest right from the beginning. He shares that he wrote this biography not because the world needed another book about Shakespeare but because it is part of a series. He states up front that there is a great deal we don't know about the Bard and his time in history. His work is for the lay scholar, the person like myself who wants to know about Shakespeare and his times but doesn't want to spend a lifetime in study. I don't need to know all the authorship debate or what in his life influenced him to write which play when. I want more than a morsel but not a college level class. This book fit my needs perfectly.

Bryson appears to have done a good deal of work. He lays out some of the main thoughts about certain areas, like the order the plays are believed to have been written in (no two scholars agree), then reminds the reader (or listener) about the lack of evidence to support any viewpoint. When he has an opinion to share he follows it with a brief explanation. The final chapter that deals with the authorship debate and where it stems from was interesting and I tend to agree with him. Why challenge Shakespeare as the author when there is no substantial evidence for or against and the circumstantial evidence is stronger for his being the author than for anyone else, especially when you consider where the challenge stemmed from?

I'm glad I listened to this one. I can recommend it happily. Here is another review that is concise and well written.


Trish said...

Sounds like a great little book. I've read a number of Shakespeare's plays but don't know very much about him. I have read a little about the subject of his questionable authorship and would love to know more. Thanks for the review.

Carrie K said...

Bill Bryson is usually a joy to read. Have you seen this take on the real author yet? I'm going to hate myself but I must have it.

Mirror, Mirror sounds like a good read to balance my book buying out a bit. ;)

a.book.in.the.life said...

I have listened to half of this as an audio book and am waiting for me and OH to take a long journey together again so we can listen to the other half! Really great book about Shakespeare I agree.

Petunia said...

Trish-it sounds like this would be the perfect bio of Shakespeare for you.

Carrie-sounds interesting. Bryson goes into de Vere a bit. He explains what is known about that dedication and he touched on de Vere as a possible author.

a.book-I hope you get to listen to the rest soon.