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Shakespeare: The World as Stage | [Bill Bryson]

Shakespeare: The World as Stage

William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself.
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Publisher's Summary

William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself.

Bryson documents the efforts of earlier scholars, from academics to eccentrics. Emulating the style of his famous travelogues, Bryson records episodes in his research, including a visit to a bunker-like basement room in Washington, D.C., where the world's largest collection of First Folios is housed.

Bryson celebrates Shakespeare as a writer of unimaginable talent and enormous inventiveness, a coiner of phrases ("vanish into thin air", "foregone conclusion", "one fell swoop") that even today have common currency. His Shakespeare is like no one else's: the beneficiary of Bryson's genial nature, his engaging skepticism, and a gift for storytelling unrivaled in our time.

©2007 Bill Bryson; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

"Bryson is a pleasant and funny guide to a subject at once overexposed and elusive." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (782 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Donna 09-26-13
    Donna 09-26-13 Member Since 2014

    Reader, Writer, Artist, Film-Lover, Cook, Knitter/Crocheter, Gardener, Cat Enthusiast, and Marketing Professional.

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    "Making Shakespeare Interesting"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Anyone who would like to know more about Shakespeare, but not be bored by the lesson, will like this audio book. Bill Bryson absolutely brings his words to life. I listened to the audio book twice. You'll get to learn more about events that happened during Shakespeare's life, his competitors, the Globe Theater, document preservation, and more.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked that the story cleared up misconceptions about who Shakespeare really was. He was not any of the proposed imposters - Bacon, Marlowe, etc.


    What does Bill Bryson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I love his voice. He's spent a lot of time outside of the U.S.; therefore, his accent is a blend of British English, Australian, and American.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes. I will likely listen to it again.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eric Mars, The Solar System, the Milky Way 04-12-13
    eric Mars, The Solar System, the Milky Way 04-12-13 Member Since 2011

    .

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    "Solid history, and very enjoying"

    It is challenging to write a historical book that evokes feelings in you, that makes you care about the characters. I feel he does that in this book. Bill is a great storyteller, I think he does a great job of assuming that no one is really interested in his subjects and finds a way to engage a reader to his book. Bill Bryson is the answer to anyone who comments that learning about, specifically reading about history or science is uninteresting or has no bearing on peoples lives. I have listened to this book twice since I purchased it. To start Bill Bryson reads his own book, which is something I enjoy for a history or science book, although I admit It can go bad quickly in a fiction story.
    Bryson has put together a great book here. I tend to like when journalists write history books, or non-fiction books as the writing can be much more colorful than the historian, again I admit much can be lost on a journalist whereas the historian is dryer but you know it comes from authority-years of scholarship in the specific subject.
    Anyway, I think the reason I read this twice was that it really put me in the world surrounding life in that era. Instead of a dry reading of facts, Bryson has put together a rich historical story. He really loves the subject and it shows. He shows us why this should be important and why it is important. Why we care about Shakespeare, everybody knows who the man was and everyone is told they should like him, but I am not sure that we really know why.
    I have enjoyed almost everything I have read from Bryson and this book is no different. I will confess an ignorance about Shakespeare, and didn't think I really would be interested but I was fascinated by this book and the story of W.S. The book talks about why we know so little about him, and why we know the things we know about him. It talks about the process of book making during those times, and does its best to give you an insight on what he was really like apart from his written works.
    I highly recommend this book, it is short and to the point, the writing is beautiful. And it is fun to listen to Brysons pronunciation, which has taken on a bit of an English accent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Mission Viejo, CA, United States 05-14-12
    Michelle Mission Viejo, CA, United States 05-14-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Interesting"

    I am an English teacher, so I find the history of the English language fascinating, especially how it has changed since we got to America.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DM SAULT STE MARIE, ON, Canada 05-05-12
    DM SAULT STE MARIE, ON, Canada 05-05-12 Member Since 2014
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    "So much fun"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is a great attempt to bring to light the life of Shakespeare within the context od the times he lived in.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Shakespeare?

    Shakespeare's impact on the English language was probably only second to the bible. Not only the language but many of the cultural metaphors that now underpin our understanding of the world came from his art.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I listen to these books on long trips and I couldn't wait to get back on the road to finish it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gailynn valdes 04-23-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Bryson Rocks"
    Where does Shakespeare rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    Fascinating book and a bit different for this author since it is not a first person narrative. I love how he can see to the heart of a topic with cool rationality and still make it emtertaining. He's one of my favs and this book is a great listen.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Closter, NJ, United States 02-13-12
    James Closter, NJ, United States 02-13-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Bill Bryson has done it again!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I liked the way that Bryson was able to take a man that little is known about, and distill down the entire spectrum of theories into a reasonable view of the type of man Shakespeare could have been.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Bryson has a good sense of humor and I did find myself chuckling a few times.


    Any additional comments?

    Bill Bryson's narration, as always, is great. I found myself looking for an excuse to go for a drive just so I could listen to this book more. I always like it when the author narrates their own book, it feels more personal that way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann Westlake Village, CA, United States 01-30-12
    Ann Westlake Village, CA, United States 01-30-12
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    "Boring"
    What was most disappointing about Bill Bryson’s story?

    There is little known about Shakespeare and that's about the most I learned from this book. I was initially hoping to learn about Shakespeare but in the first few minutes found out that wasn't possible. Then I was hoping to get a flavor for the times but Bryson didn't really offer that in an interesting way. I stopped listening about half way.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Fort Stewart, GA, United States 01-30-12
    Robert Fort Stewart, GA, United States 01-30-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Making the Bard not so Hard"
    Would you listen to Shakespeare again? Why?

    Yes, I think I would. I found the author and the narrative interesting.


    What other book might you compare Shakespeare to and why?

    I've been reading a lot of biographies as of late. I just finished Ben Franklin and found it similar. Not really a one on one comparison though. In recording quality and likeableness of the narrator yes. There was just more facts to go on with the well-documented Franklin. But in the honest attempt to portray a full unbiased story without a lot of progressive fanboy comments along the way they were both well done.


    What does Bill Bryson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The interview he adds at the end about the creation of the book alone was nearly worth the cost. I doubt having it in print would have been as enjoyable.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    'Marlowe was Shakespeare? Themes are fighting words! Seriously...' Discovery documentary, yes. Major film? Not in the slightest...


    Any additional comments?

    I liked the story, more than this questionnaire. I've read Bryson's Into the Wild which was the biggest reason I bought into this audio book. I learned a bit about both the playwright and Bryson. I like them both enough to submit to this lame set of interrogatories.

    At least you didn't threaten to put my response on facebook or ask new age questions like:

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wes 01-28-12
    Wes 01-28-12
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    "Fascinating, though not riviting, read."

    So many interesting and conflicting "facts" about Shakespeare. I had no idea there was so much controversy over Shakespeare's life. I enjoy reading historical fiction from this time period, and I liked the way Bryson included the greater English history in the Shakespeare history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Corinna, ME, United States 01-24-12
    Charles Corinna, ME, United States 01-24-12
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    "really interesting"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    yes - for the entertainment value


    What did you like best about this story?

    Bill Bryson's expressive use of the English language


    Which character – as performed by Bill Bryson – was your favorite?

    I liked his opinion of Marlow


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    no

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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