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Shakespeare: The Biography (2005)

de Peter Ackroyd

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1,0941813,482 (3.98)22
Biographer and novelist Ackroyd brings William Shakespeare to life in the manner of a contemporary rather than a biographer. His method is to position the playwright in the context of his world, exploring everything from Stratford's humble town to its fields of wildflowers; discerning influences on the plays from unexpected quarters; and entering London with the playwright as modern theatre, as we know it, is just beginning to emerge. Writing as though we are observing Shakespeare and his circle of friends, patrons, managers, and fellow actors and writers, Ackroyd is able to see Shakespeare's genius from within, so we feel that Ackroyd the writer merges with Shakespeare the writer, the poet, the man; and thus with great sympathy and clarity we experience the way in which Shakespeare worked.--From publisher description.… (més)
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» Mira també 22 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 18 (següent | mostra-les totes)
A first rate look at the life of England's most famous dramatist. The details are amazing, even the trivial details are interesting. The author makes no claims to know things that are not known, and often will discuss all the differing views on what a piece of evidence means, and discuss the likelihood of each idea. He examines the youth of Shakespeare in some detail, and discusses the ideas about his relationship with his wife. He does not jump feet first into the fray of who wrote Shakespeare's plays, but instead moves ahead with the assumption that Shakespeare himself wrote Shakespeare's plays, while at times discussing the reasons why the other candidates don't work. Upon reading this book, it is difficult to see where those other candidates came from, or even the idea that there was someone other than Shakespeare who wrote Shakespeare's plays. Far from being unmentioned in his own time as is often posited, Ackroyd assembles an impressive array of mentions of Shakespeare by his contemporaries, both praise and dismissal. Though he is by no means as often mentioned as many of the other playwrights, Ackryod details the particulars of Shakespeare's life as they are known to demonstrate that the man lived a relatively private and less flamboyant existence than the other playwrights, and also that he is mentioned as the author of his plays repeatedly throughout his life. He also discusses the education and likely apprenticeship of the playwright, and finds the idea that he was illiterate or nearly so to be lacking any evidence or support. A must read for all fans of the bard, because it helps understand his plays better by putting them in the context not only of the time, but the place in which they were written. The main downside is the length, which is daunting, and some of the details are not necessary. But with such well-written prose and such extensive research, that can be forgiven. Just plan on devoting some real time to it. ( )
  Devil_llama | Jun 16, 2019 |
On little evidence and gleanings from the plays the author is able to build an interesting portrait of the bard. ( )
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
This is a fascinating account of William Shakespeare, with much more theatrical detail than I've ever read or heard before. There is more information than can be remembered, but I really appreciated that conjecture was all well backed up with data, mostly financial and theatrical records. It was a different view from past books I've read. I also really liked that he discussed in detail the many suppositions that have been made about Shakespeare and why they may or may not be accurate, if they were probable, possible but unknown, improbable, or nearly impossible. Ackroyd is quite careful not to state anything is absolutely true without lots of evidence and explanation. Granted, that means there's a lot of data and a lot of threads to follow, but it's intriguing and well written.

Ackroyd's writing style is perfect for this; at times he puts phrases together like a modern Shakespeare.

This is not the book for a very casual Shakespeare enthusiast; the more you are familiar with him and his plays and theater in general, the more interesting this is. If you are just beginning your study of Shakespeare, I would read a more generalized book first. Also, if you are mostly interested in an analysis of Shakespeare's plays in order to reveal Shakespeare's life and persona, this is not that biography. The plays are analyzed, but with more emphasis on what was happening in England and the theatrical world at the time. How they related to Shakespeare's life at the time was discussed, but because how he felt about things is more conjecture, Ackroyd does not focus on that.

  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
Lots of detail from not much data. Paints a plausible picture of the man & his plays & poetry.
Read Mar 2007 ( )
  mbmackay | Dec 6, 2015 |
As a survey of life in the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, this is a pretty good and interesting read. As a life of Shakespeare it suffers from the same fault as all the others - the man has gone beyond recall, and the biography is stuffed full of the usual ifs and buts and it-is-not-unreasonable-to-suppose-thats that bedevil all attempts to find him. Ackroyd is fully aware of the folly of trying to find the man through his work, but even so he succumbs to the temptation now and then. ( )
  sloopjonb | Oct 23, 2014 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 18 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Most biographies, John Updike has observed, “are really just novels with indexes.” That seems especially true with lives of Shakespeare. Peter Ackroyd’s rather arrogantly subtitled Shakespeare: The Biography, although its flights of fancy are far less extreme than Asquith’s, also trespasses upon the terrain of fiction. So, “we may imagine [Shakespeare] to have been a singularly competitive small boy” and “no doubt easily bored.” As a man, he was apparently “given to lustfulness but fastidious in other particulars,” something which, we are told, “by a curious chance consorts well with the imagery of the plays where there are plentiful references to bawdiness, but where there is also evidence of a general sensitivity to unpleasant sights or smells.” And so on, ad infinitum.
afegit per amarie | editaNew York Times, Anne Barton (May 11, 2006)
 
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William Shakespeare is popularly supposed to have been born on 23 April 1564, or St George's Day.
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Biographer and novelist Ackroyd brings William Shakespeare to life in the manner of a contemporary rather than a biographer. His method is to position the playwright in the context of his world, exploring everything from Stratford's humble town to its fields of wildflowers; discerning influences on the plays from unexpected quarters; and entering London with the playwright as modern theatre, as we know it, is just beginning to emerge. Writing as though we are observing Shakespeare and his circle of friends, patrons, managers, and fellow actors and writers, Ackroyd is able to see Shakespeare's genius from within, so we feel that Ackroyd the writer merges with Shakespeare the writer, the poet, the man; and thus with great sympathy and clarity we experience the way in which Shakespeare worked.--From publisher description.

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