William's Reviews > Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt
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's review
Dec 16, 2010

it was amazing
Read in July, 2010

More than any other single author, past or present, who wrote in the English language, none has been the focus of more essays, criticisms, and analysis than The Bard. But for the majority of his plays, sonnets, and poems that are known and can be read in their entirety by us, William Shakespeare still remains an historical and biographical enigma for scholars and enthusiasts alike, until Harvard Professor Stephen Greenblatt's biography of Shakespeare was first published in 2004.

Perhaps more completely, compellingly and comprehensively than any other Shakespearian scholar, Greenblatt recreates a very vivid and earthy Elizabethan England as the stage for The Bard and The Globe, as well as its social, political and economic and religious history, and how more often than not, all of these intertwined with serious consequences. Into this fascinating weave, Greenblatt selects those passages from Shakespeare's plays that not only work on stage for his histories and tragedies from the past, but were as relevant to 16th Century England. When ambiguity of historical evidence on Shakespeare himself is lacking, which inevitably it does when tracing the life of Shakespeare, Greenblatt candidly and objectively draws this out, but just as convincingly presents and focuses more on the historical context to discuss the possible facts. This is not only a beautifully researched work of literary history of the highest order, but a real life political thriller and mystery.
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