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Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became…

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (original 2004; udgave 2004)

af Stephen Greenblatt (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
2,952533,405 (3.9)113
The basic biographical facts of Shakespeare's life have been known for over a century, but now Stephen Greenblatt shows how this particular life history gave rise to the world's greatest writer.
Titel:Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
Forfattere:Stephen Greenblatt (Forfatter)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2004), Edition: 1st, 386 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

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Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare af Stephen Greenblatt (2004)


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Engelsk (50)  Italiensk (1)  Spansk (1)  Fransk (1)  Alle sprog (53)
Viser 1-5 af 53 (næste | vis alle)
Although interesting, it was not as good as I was hoping. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
I don't necessarily agree with all of Greenblatt's arguments, but he creates here a worthy portrait and discussion to add to the vast database of information and theories on Shakespeare's life and times. ( )
  therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |
hard going
  AbneyLibri | Mar 14, 2020 |

[Will in the World] - Stephen Greenblatt
[The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare] - Emma Smith
[Shakespeare's Language, Frank Kermode] - Frank Kermode.

Three books that might serve as an introduction to Shakespeare. All of them written with the general reader in mind, but all of them in my opinion would expect the reader to have some familiarity with the plays and the poetry.

[Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare] - Stephen Greenblatt
This seems to be one of the most popular books on Shakespeare with 2,768 people owning a copy and fifty reviews on Librarything. The preface to the book states that it aims to discover the actual person who wrote the most important body of imaginative literature of the last thousand years. This is a difficult task as there are no surviving contemporary biographies and as far as we know Shakespeare never wrote anything about himself. There are business transactions, there are playbills in which he is named, some petty legal affidavits, a marriage license, property transactions and a last will and testament, but nothing personal to the man. In addition to this there are a number of lost years especially in his youth when we know nothing about him at all. So what is there to write about? How do you fill up a book of 400 pages? Well! you do what other biographers have attempted in the past you mine the plays and the poetry for information, putting this in context with what is known about the milieu in which Shakespeare lived and worked.

One might think that the famous sonnet sequence might provide some information, but it would appear that Shakespeare did his best to keep his secrets even when he was writing sonnets about love. Shakespeare does not name the youth who he is encouraging to start a family, he does not tell us the name of the young man to whom he addresses the love sonnets or the dark lady to whom other sonnets are addressed, we might think that he kept these secrets on purpose. There are no authorial interventions in the plays giving us his personal viewpoint and precious few references to him that might give an inkling to his character by his contemporaries. All this means that attempts to discover the actual person must be pure conjecture and that is the problem with the aims of this book: the reader loses sight of the man himself, this is not to say that Greenblatt loses sight of his quarry, this is not the case at all, he writes endlessly on what he might have done, where he might have been and what he might have thought, but it is at the end of the day just educated guesswork.

The book does examine in some detail the relatively few facts that we know about Shakespeare, and more to the point it provides a contextual background to the protagonist. Greenblatt describes the world of the Elizabethan theatre, he describes the society, he fills in bits of history; all the time thinking about how these thing may have impacted on Shakespeare. He searches through the plays to find references to events that may have shaped the plots, the dialogue and the speeches of the characters. In particular he looks for events or incidents that Shakespeare may have witnessed and how they might have influenced what he wrote down for his characters to say in the play, but there is nothing very specific. An example is the burial of his son Hamnet in 1596 at Stratford-upon-avon. Greenblatt assumes that Shakespeare attended the burial and assumes that he was so deeply affected, that when he came to write his play Hamlet in 1601 the name of the central character so like the name of his son encouraged him to write with a new inward expressiveness. Critics do see Hamlet as a kind of turning point in the oeuvre, the play where Shakespeare began to illustrate the inner thoughts of his characters by their speeches and their actions and Greenblatt may be correct in his assumption but equally he could be way off the mark.

There are just too many 'what if' moments. What if Shakespeare was a closet catholic like his father may well have been, could he in those missing years between being resident in Stratford-upon-Avon and turning up as an actor in London have been a tutor in the north of the country, and if so could he have met with, or come under the spell of the Jesuit Edmund Campion who was preaching to the faithful in Lancashire in 1580-1. Would he then have been shocked and scared by the savage executions of Campion and his followers. There is not the slightest evidence for any of this, it is just pure conjecture and Greenblatt tells us so, but after erecting these edifices the reader could get the impression that Shakespeare was a man who may have been troubled with questions of faith.

The big plus in reading the book is that Greenblatt paints such a vivid picture of Elizabethan society and although little of this was new to me I still enjoyed the way the author wove this mine of information into his story. He occasionally gets seduced by the texts of some of the plays, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice and Macbeth for instance, but he always has something original to say about them. In an Afterword to his book Greenblatt says:

Shakespeare seems to have felt no comparable desire to make himself known or to cling tenaciously to what he had brought forth. The consequence is that it is not really necessary to know the details of Shakespeares life in order to love or understand his plays

That being said I still enjoyed Greenblatts adventurous ride through the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean era in pursuit of the elusive master playwright. I could not help, but to be carried along with it all and so 4 stars.

[The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare] by Emma Smith
This seems to me to be an introduction for the student approaching a deeper study of Shakespeare but the writing of Emma Smith is so lively and interesting that it could certainly be enjoyed by the more general reader. There are chapters on Characters and how Shakespeare approaches them, on performance and how actors can interpret the words in the script, a chapter on the texts in general, how they have come to us and how they have been edited, Shakespeares language: did anyone really talk like that? Structure of the plays, sources and history. Smith uses examples from the plays themselves to make her points often concentrating on one play per chapter. At the end of each chapter there is a 'Where Next' section that points to practical things to do to further appreciate the subject matter and books for further information.

There is an awful lot of information crammed into this book, but very little that is dull and boring. It is presented in such a way as to make the reader think on what is being presented. I found this to be an excellent read and so again 4 stars.

[Shakespeare's Language, Frank Kermode]
This book examines how Shakespeares language developed throughout his career. It is aimed at the general reader rather than the scholar and Kermode is careful to explain the more technical terms that are used. Fifteen of the later plays are given a chapter each, while the earlier plays are covered in a part one that is given just a quarter of the book space. I am reading through part one of this at the moment and like very much how Kermode marshals his thoughts about the language of the plays. I will use this as a reference/introduction to the plays as I read them. ( )
3 stem baswood | Oct 16, 2019 |
Some stretches based purely on literary interpretation, but overall enjoyable and thought-provoking ( )
  maryroberta | Jun 30, 2019 |
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A young man from a small provincial town--a man without independent wealth, without powerful family connections, and without a university education--moves to London in the late 1580s and, in a remarkably short time, becomes the greatest playwright not of his age alone but of all time.
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A pack of paper that, neatly folded and cut, yielded about 50 small sheets, would have cost at least fourpence, or the equivalent of eight pints of ale, more than a pound of raisins, a pound of mutton and a pound of beef, two dozen eggs or two loaves of bread.
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The basic biographical facts of Shakespeare's life have been known for over a century, but now Stephen Greenblatt shows how this particular life history gave rise to the world's greatest writer.

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