JONATHAN BATE    Book Number: 87832    Product format: Paperback

How did plague turn William Shakespeare from a jobbing hack into a courtly poet? How did Bottom's dream rewrite the Bible? How did Shakespeare's plays lead to the deaths of an earl and a king? And why was he the one dramatist of his generation never to be imprisoned? This illuminating and innovative biography by a leading Shakespearean scholar uses the Bard's own list of the seven ages of man in As You Like It - infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloon and oblivion - to deduce the crucial events of Shakespeare's life, and connects them to his world and work as never before. Part detective story, part brilliant literary analysis and part insightful world history, Bate weaves a dazzling tapestry of Elizabethan beliefs and obsessions, private passions and political intrigues. We learn for example that the banning of the cycles of medieval mystery plays by the Protestant Reformation created a vacuum into which Shakespeare could present his new plays and range freely over a wide range of topics and ideas. It was the father of one of Shakespeare's friends who translated into English details of the Universe according to Copernicus, with the Sun at the centre. So in King Lear we have 'My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tale and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and lecherous' said Edmund. We see Shakespeare daring to experiment with the ideas of Montaigne and new philosophies including the Epicurean view and Stoical patience: 'Sorrow concealed, like an oven stopped, Doth burn the heart to cinders where it is.' Indeed an intriguing portrait, 471pp in US paperback and apologies for remainder mark. 22 illustrations.
Published price: £15.50
Bibliophile price: £7.00

Additional product information

ISBN 9780812971811
Browse this category: Historical Biography

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