Sunday, 31 August 2014

1599 - A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: Lovely Peek into the Bard's Creative Process

I have to admit it was not easy to pick up this book, sit down, and actually read. I ended up reading this book in several sittings, and even skimmed some of its tedious bits. Nevertheless, it is an interesting book, and interesting attempt to reconstruct Shakespeare's life.

"What had influenced Shakespeare in the most primal year of his creativity?" The book tries hard to answer that question, analyzing Shakespeare's own life and the restless England around him. Instead of going through all of Shakespeare's life, the author decided to focus on one particular year - the year when Shakespeare penned down Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Hamlet.

What I like about the book is its neatness in compiling facts into probable conclusion. Through the book, we go from the intrigue in Elizabeth's court into lowly actors and peasants lives. Through the book also, we find how England's political situation, press activity, and other little things might have affected Shakespeare and his works.

For me, notable, it is interesting to see how the publication of The Passionate Pilgrim might have affected As You Like It, and also might have brought back Marlowe's ghost into Shakespeare's mind.

Having said all the good things about the book, it's still necessary to note that the book is more about the year than about Shakespeare. Between Shakespeare and Shakespeare, the book mentions tons of history, including all the details about Spenser and Essex. Although the author argues that it is 'necessary', it is still too much for me.

Oh, and this book is part of my reading for Fanda's History Reading Challenge.

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