i love Bill Bryson’s books! They are funny and insightful at the same time, always. His writing is so honest and humourous, i always have laugh-out-loud moments. i have read quite a number of them already but this is my first review of a Bill Bryson book.
i like my books and i like my classics and of course, i like Shakespeare. i will admit that if i had not studied Shakespeare at school, i would be a bit intimidated or at least i would find the language tiresome to read. But i did study Shakespeare at school and in some detail, so i have come to like the way Shakespeare writes and his myriad of characters.
In this book, Bryson tries to de-mystify the person who is Shakespeare. There have been many assumptions made about Shakespeare, mainly because he lived in a time when written records of persons were not well kept. There was no google or digital database where you could find lots on any one person.
Bryson writes in a matter-of-fact voice about a rather matter-of-fact subject; a famous man’s life, and yet, i still found myself smiling at various points in the book.
He lays it out quite clearly, and with some authority, about how life was during Shakespeare’s lifetime and how inaccurate things can be when passed down through word of mouth, and how, even eye-witness accounts, or what claims to be eye-witness accounts, can turn out to be untrue.
i have to say that after reading this book, my romanticised view of Shakespeare has been shuttered, but in a good way. Shakespeare wasn’t some rich boy who had all the resources in the world and could spend his days writing and not worrying about daily life. He was a man who had to work his way up to be recognised, and yes, he was fortunate that many things fell his way but still he did not have it easy and he had gotten himself into some measure of trouble in his day.
So if you would like to know more about Shakespeare the man, but don’t have time to wade through more high-brow works on the man, then pick up this book and have a fun time learning about Shakespeare, the theater and life during the 16th and 17th centuries.