Monday, January 07, 2008

Review of "Shakespeare: The World As Stage"

Last night I finished Bill Bryson's new book called Shakespeare: The World As Stage. Bryson briefly discusses Shakespeare's life from the beginnings in Stratford to London and back to Stratford where he died and was buried.

Bryson says early on that the book is so slender because much of Shakespeare is still a mystery. For example, we actually don't have any idea of what he looks like. The common picture we see is simply a best guess. We also have little idea of who he actually spelt his name. Again the spelling "Shakespeare" is a best guess. Most everything else about Sharkespeare is unknown.

I've read just about every book Bryson has written. The only two I couldn't get through were the two on language (i.e. "Mother Tongue" and "Made in America"). I loved every other book though. Especially the stories about Katz, Bryson's friend from Iowa who traveled with him occasionally.

So where does Byrson's Shakespeare rank? If you're a die hard Bryson reader like I am, I'd recommend giving it a try. It's only 200 pages so it won't consume too much time if you hate it. His last chapter on Shakespeare conspiracies is a nice touch. If you're not a Bryson fan, then I'd recommend skipping it. I found only a few stories I liked and wasn’t as impressed as I have been with some of his other books.

If you've never read Bryson, make sure you try out "A Short History of Nearly Everything" and "A Walk in the Woods." They both make my top 10 book list.

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