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©2007 Bill Bryson; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London, UK
If shakespeare interests you in any way this book is wonderful. Bill Bryson cuts through the mountains of information about the bard and gives you the facts. It is a facinating and informative piece of work which is totally and uttterly enjoyable!
This is a good book for most people who have an interest in Shakespeare. Bryson has put together all that we actually know about Shakespeare and discussed the well known theories that surround him. Well written and informative whilst being interesting and entertaining, as all Bryson's books are.
I have, for a long time, been a 'fan' of the writing of Bill Bryson, however his book Shakespeare not only informs the reader/listener about the life of William Shakespeare, but, also highlights just want a wonderful writer Bill Bryson.
I have most of Bryson's works and this one is as good as the others.
I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did
An excellent, straightforward guide to Shakespeare's life. Quite brief, but Bryson lays out everything we know about Shakespeare and the world in which he lived without any supposition or extravagant theories clouding the tale. We don't know very much about Shakespeare, but then we don't know very much about any of the Elizabethan or Stuart playwrights - so little survives from that period. Bryson deals with Shakespeare in his context admirably. He resists the urge to speculate or guess about anything we don't know for sure. It's a fascinating listen, and he despatches the idea that Shakespeare did not write the plays with clarity and conviction. The few details we do have about the writer's life are laid out well and this is a really interesting and enjoyable book.
As Bill Bryson points out this is a short book! Why? Because there are so few confirmed facts about about The Bard. That, however, hasn't stopped scholars and academics alike speculating on the most surprising details of Shakespeare's life. Bryson sets out on a fact finding mission with his usual wit, the results are as entertaining as they are informative. I loved it!
Jean the Bean
A good listen from Bill Bryson who brings all of the usual Shakespeare problems (who was he, did he write the plays, was he gay) to a lay audience without dumbing down. Lots of interesting stuff, well read by the author and definitely one to enjoy more than once.
Effortless scholarship, warm and engaging delivery, fascinating topic. What's not to like? Bill Bryson takes his 'ordinary bloke' persona deep into the thickets of Shakespearean scholarship, gives all the facts, of which there are not a lot, punctures a bunch of theories many of which are examples of the High Stupid, and leaves me wanting more Bryson AND more Shakespeare.
Nic - husband, daddy, author, pain specialist, clinical manager, and general book enthusiast.
Very highly. As always, Bryson's dulcet tones and arresting wit turns the otherwise inaccessible enigma that is the world of Shakespeare (however you spell it) into an engaging journey. Light is cast on the sometimes convoluted prose of this highly regarded scribe, and goes someway to help the uninitiated understand who Shakespeare is.
The format of Bryson's informal biography which has the investigative diligence of a journalist forces the listener to challenge more oblique concepts rather than the purely linear biographies one sometimes encounters.
Yes. Bryson has a soothing tone and uses simple but eloquent language - he isn't one of the insufferable lexicon wielding authors who use language to encrypt the message.
Yes. But then having kids means it will never happen
Highly recommended. Thanks Bill
"Not the book you might think it is..."
This is a book about Shakespeare the man (and the times he lived in) - it is not a guide to his works. But given that qualification, it is an intriguing account. It flows easily into the ear, constantly asking interesting questions, and answering many. But in the end, we are still left wondering how any person could grasp so much and penetrate so deeply into humankind.
"another Bryson best"
a good read
as good as 'at home' also excellent work
keep up the good work Bill
"Wit wittled down by voice"
As a Bryson fan I have thoroughly enjoyed his books and was looking forward to his insightful and irreverent treatment of this noble subject. He lived up to expectations with a rather concise account of the life, times and work of Shakespeare with generous dollops of sarcasm, humour and derision thrown in. It would have been a splendid piece of work had Bryson settled for a professional narrator (as in Short History of Nearly Everything). Instead Bryson's clipped, clumsy and poorly enunciated voice is intrusive and jarring. What a pity. I hope the publishers consider another edition with a trained actor as narrator.
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