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
"Bryson is a pleasant and funny guide to a subject at once overexposed and elusive." (Publishers Weekly)
Bill Bryson narrates his own humorous review of Shakespeare's life and the scholarship that's grown up around it. Bryson's reading is staccato and a bit dry at first, but I warmed to it over time. This is not a book for scholars or even serious students of Shakespeare. It's a funny look at the man who has affected so much and about whom so little is known. That said, Bryson appears to have done his homework. I learned enough to feel inoculated against silly conspiracy theories on the one hand or purist dogma on the other. Definitely recommended
Light, educational, well-read.
Bill Bryson is a good reader. The book itself is more light a connection of Shakespeare trivia than a scholarly book, but it is entertaining enough.
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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.
I liked that the story cleared up misconceptions about who Shakespeare really was. He was not any of the proposed imposters - Bacon, Marlowe, etc.
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.
Yes. I will likely listen to it again.
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.
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.
This is a great attempt to bring to light the life of Shakespeare within the context od the times he lived in.
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.
I listen to these books on long trips and I couldn't wait to get back on the road to finish it.
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.
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.
Bryson has a good sense of humor and I did find myself chuckling a few times.
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.
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.
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