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Eternal Shakespeare: A Playwright and Poet for All Seasons

March 4th, 2013
Judith · Staff Recommendations

When the best and brightest playwrights and poets of the 20th century are long forgotten, William Shakespeare will still be remembered as the greatest playwright in the English language and one of the best poets in the English language. How did the son of a middle-class family from Stratford-upon-Avon in England become the greatest playwright of the English language? We really do not know but we do know he was a writer of unimaginable talent and enormous inventiveness and a coiner of phrases still in use such as “much ado about nothing”; “vanish into thin air; “all’s well that ends well”; “foregone conclusion”; “one fell swoop” and so much more.

William Shakespeare was born in April of 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon and he died in April of 1616 in Stratford-upon-Avon. We know that he married Anne Hathaway at age 18 and then moved to London where he became an actor and later a playwright. In 1623, John Heminges and Henry Condell, two friends and fellow actors published the First Folio, a collected edition of his plays that included all but two of the plays now recognized as the plays of William Shakespeare. It was prefaced with a poem by the playwright Ben Jonson, in which Shakespeare is hailed as “not of an age, but for all time.” Truer words were never written about the legacy of William Shakespeare.

Suggested books on Shakespeare are:

SHAKESPEARE THE INVENTION OF THE HUMAN by Harold Bloom.This book by Harold Bloom, a renowned teacher of Shakespeare, states that not only did Shakespeare invent (and improve) the English language as we know it but that he also created the concept of human nature as we know it today.

A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE 1599by James Shapiro.William Shakespeare lived in a fascinating and yet also a violent time. This book brings the news and intrigues of the times with how Shakespeare worked as an actor, businessman and playwright.

REINVENTING SHAKESPEARE by Gary TaylorWho was Shakespeare? Is he as good as everyone believes? Read this book and find out why so many people from different walks of life such as liberals and conservatives believe that Shakespeare wrote for them.

REDUCED SHAKESPEARE by Reed Martin & Austin TichenorIn one humorous slim volume the authors described the plays, the life and legend of Shakespeare. This is very funny or witty book and to quote Shakespeare: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

THE EVERYTHING SHAKESPEARE BOOK by Peter RubieThis book is a comprehensive guide to understanding all the works of Shakespeare for the “rest of us.”

SHAKESPEARE by Michael WoodThis book is the companion to the PBS series IN SEARCH OF SHAKESPEARE. It is very well illustrated and is a compelling work of investigative journalism and reinstates the image of William Shakespeare as a thinking artist. We learn things about Shakespeare’s family such as his mother Mary Arden was a Catholic in a time when Catholics were persecuted in England and Wood feels that Shakespeare if not a Catholic definitely had Catholic sympathies. Wood states that Shakespeare lived in a police state and there were spies everywhere and thus whatever Shakespeare’s religious and political sympathies, he kept them to himself and yet at the same time, Wood feels that Shakespeare yearned for the Old England of his grandparents. However, Shakespeare was also a modern man. He was a man for all the ages.

ALIAS SHAKESPEARE by Joseph SobranFor those who believe that Shakespeare did not write his plays or his poems, this is the book for you.

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