The Bellinghman (bellinghman) wrote,
The Bellinghman

#251 Bill Bryson: Shakespeare

Bill Bryson: Shakespeare

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: HarperPerennial (1 April 2008)
Language English
ISBN-10: 000719790X
ISBN-13: 978-0007197903
Category(ies): Biography

Do we really need yet another book about Shakespeare? Well, there are an awful lot of books out there with totally lunatic ideas about old Bill, and Bryson has taken it upon himself to give a good, clear and lucid account of what is actually known about the playwright.

The answer is, not a lot. There's an awful lot of speculation (mainly starting from a lunatic American woman named Bacon who decided that Shakespeare was really written by his contemporary and her namesake Bacon). But if you actually go out and look at the actual evidence, then there's very little. That's not surprising - very little documentation survives from that era, and since Shakespeare's works weren't actually particularly revered in the decades after his death, nobody was particularly interested in chronicling his life.

(For a creative genius to be under appreciated for a few generations is not unknown - when I was young, the classical composer was Beethoven. Mozart? Who? Oh yeah, him.)

So, Bryson presents this account with a gratifying attention to the boundaries of what is known. On the other hand, he's robustly dismissive of the stupidities of those who, purporting a lack of evidence that the plays of Shakespeare weren't written by the man whose actual name was written on their title pages, attribute them to others, on zero evidence at all.

All in all, this book shouldn't be necessary. On the other hand, there's all sorts of daft stuff out there, from 1421 to the Da Vinci Code, so having a sensible person actually putting forward the sensible view with the sensible evidence therefore makes a nice change. Brief, but illuminating.
Tags: books, reviews

  • Hugo novels

    So I've worked my way through the novel shortlist, and I've a pretty good idea that I will be actually marking 'No Award' above one particular book.…

  • Retromancer

    I finished reading Robert Rankin's latest pbb last night, and was amused at the Tuckerisation of lproven, but also by the presence of a…

  • Planet 51

    We went off to the cinema yesterday afternoon to see this rather engaging animated feature. Annoyingly, since 'it's a cartoon', and the latest…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded