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)
Shakespeare is Shakespeare
Balanced view of the evidence
Not an appropriate question
I wouldn't even try to make this into a film.
Yes, to go over historical facts as Bryson saw them.
He is some what different from other performers, it's his own book and he read it with energy.
I have always been a fan of Bill Bryson, but this was his first book to disappoint... The simple truth is there is too little to know about Shakespeare to justify the book. This is, of course, really too bad as I would really love to know more about it.
That being said, Bryson is fabulous as usual, his writing is terrific, and so is his narration. In certain parts you can hear he is having trouble not laughing, causing me too laugh out loud myself, attracting strange looks from people on the subway.
Over all - The subject matter gets 3 stars (for while it was interesting, as I said above, the actual facts were few and far between). However, the writing gets five stars as usual, thus garnishing a four star review.
The very long prelude is persuasive that there's not much known for sure about Shakespeare... and then goes into absurdly tiny detail about the supposed life he led.
I couldn't force myself to continue... but based on my prior enjoyment of Bryson's OTHER work, I would still try another of his books without concern.
I didn't realize how little I knew about the Bard until I listened to this book. Bryson does an excellent job of summing up Shakespeare's life in an engaging way. He reads it well, too. He points out where the historical record is thin and where we have solid information about Shakespeare. It's incredible to learn how we know what we do (and don't) about the Bard. The last chapter is great. I wouldn't say this is a comedic book, but it's very entertaining and does have some good laughing moments too.
I have read several of Bryson's books, and I have enjoyed them tremendously. I am a big, big fan of his works, and I particularly love that delightful wit of his, but this is the first time I've heard him read his work. When I read his books, I invariably picture him sitting with that mischievous grin he sometimes wears in photos, and I'd suspected him to be veritably bubbling with his next wisecrack or funny formulation - which even this book is richly adorned with. However, there was absolutely no delivery of these punch lines - he just read on like it was a laundry list.
The book isn't bad at all, and the final chapter - in which Bryson kills dead any and all of the theories that Shakespeare wasn't actually Shakespeare - is simply phenomenal, and in itself worth the price of the book. But in my opinion, you'll have a better experience if you read it yourself than let Bryson do it for you...
I downloaded this book to kill time while driving but found that I really wanted to pay more attention to it than I could while on the road. Bill Bryson's lyric humor and research of the subject makes this most enjoyable.
Being a die hard Bryson fan, it's hard to imagine this book came from him. The pitcher has lost his arm but stayed on the mound! A fantastically dull book. This is the buy of the year if one is interested in reading all he could never want to know about what can never be known about Shakespeare. A true shame it has Bryson's name on it.
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