Search This Blog

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shakespeare by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson has written a charming little book called “Shakespeare, The World as Stage” and in his style, is able to review all the ACTUAL facts known about Shakespeare.

It is fun to be carried along this journey of discovery by Bryson because he has a matter-of-fact style and brings in topics that most other authors never even consider.  He includes the smells, the textures of the cloth, the temperature, or what was going on in that part of town.  He explains how one single fact can have different interpretations, and why that information can lead a person to different conclusion. 

I loved how Bryson refutes those stories about how Shakespeare is not Shakespeare, that somehow someone else wrote his work.  Bryson goes back in history to find out exactly when that story surfaced and why (200 years after Shakespeare's death and from a mentally unstable woman).  He plugs holes into that ridiculous theory and you can’t help but realize it has been perpetuated simply because something unbelievable makes good copy.  

I also was not aware that some of Shakespeare's sonnets were written to men.  Because of this, there are many scholars who say this means Shakespeare was gay.  I chuckle at that assumption.  If you have ever done any writing or even taken a writing class, you know how your abilities are stretched when you take on another person’s character or gender.  It is the process of becoming a good writer.  You take on another person’s skin, gender, or whatever, and explore the story and writing from a different perspective.  If people can't tell if the author is male or female, in my world, that means you are a really good writer.   

To me, this is what Shakespeare was doing; exploring the world of feelings and love from a very different perspective.
If you like Bill Bryon, you will like this book.

If you love Shakespeare, you will also love this book.