Sunday Salon and Shakespeare: The World As Stage

TSSIt’s been a good week for reading. I finished V for Vendetta after last TSS, finished Eugene Onegin by Wednesday and I listened to Shakespeare: The World As Stage by Bill Bryson yesterday (review below). Today, I started to read Life and Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee. I am about half way through the book now. It is not very long, but there are no chapters. It reminds me a bit of McCarthy’s The Road. I only learned recently Coetzee is South African, and I did not know anything about the book before I started reading it today. With a lot of books, I have no idea what the plot will be. I rather just dive in to the story than look at the synopsis on the cover. It makes the reading experience more interesting. I also find that plots that may sound boring end up being well told and engaging with its characters. A plot summary can seem interesting, but the writing can be slow as molasses.

Now a review of Shakespeare: The World As Stage by Bill Bryson.

I listened to the complete audiobook yesterday. It’s quite a short book about Shakespeare, but it covers many details and the lack there of of William Shakespeare’s life. Bill Bryson is an author I’ve liked for years, and he is consistently an informative and shrewd writer. This was my first time reading a book of Shakespeare’s life, but I’ve been aware of the debates of the doubts of his identity, sexuality, genius, etc. What Bryson sought out to do in the book is to avoid speculation that seems to run rampant among scholars and other biographies about Shakespeare. He evaluates and summarises the small amount of real information about Shakespeare we have at present. The book is a good as a brush up on the Elizabethan and early Jacobite eras. I learned quite a bit about the evolution of the human language, people, dress, and cities of the time. Bryson avoids making any big and blanket statements about the kind of man Shakespeare was, but he does shoot down theories about the idea that William Shakespeare was actually Bacon/ Marlowe/ Earl of Oxford/ your mother, etc. He also provides insights from historians and scholars either directly interviewing them or referencing their work. I think it is a really good introduction to Shakespeare that can provide grounding for further scholarly study about the man and the myth. A quick and recommended read.

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