Spiros's Reviews > Shakespeare

Shakespeare by Anthony Burgess
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's review
Nov 09, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: bins, londoncalling
Recommended for: those looking for a good introduction to Shakespeare
Read from October 29 to November 07, 2011

A very deft overview of the life and works of Shakespeare. Burgess painstakingly hews to the documented facts about the Bard, and then indulges in occasional flights of fancy, which are carefully announced as such. Not as copious in scope as Ackroyd or Greenblatt's biographies (and much shorter than either), and obviously not as fun as his own novel,
Nothing Like the Sun, this is still a valuable bit of Bardology.

"We need not repine at the lack of a satisfactory Shakespeare portrait. To see his face we need only to look in a mirror. He is ourselves, ordinary suffering humanity, fired by moderate ambitions, concerned with money, the victim of desire, all too mortal. To his back, like a hump, was strapped a miraculous but somehow irrelevant talent. It is a talent which, more than any other the world has seen, reconciles us to being human beings, unsatisfactory hybrids, not good enough for gods and not good enough for animals. We are all Will. Shakespeare is the name of one of our redeemers."

So: not Bacon, not Essex, not (as Malcolm X argued) James I. We are Shakespeare, Shakespeare is us.
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