“One man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”
In this illuminating, innovative biography, Jonathan Bate, one of today’s most accomplished Shakespearean scholars, has found a fascinating new way to tell the story of the great dramatist. Using the Bard’s own immortal list of a man’s seven ages in As You Like It , Bate deduces the crucial events of Shakespeare’s life and connects them to his world and work as never before.
Here is the author as an infant, born into a world of plague and syphillis, diseases with which he became closely familiar; as a schoolboy, a position he portrayed in The Merry Wives of Windsor , in which a clever, cheeky lad named William learns Latin grammar; as a lover, married at eighteen to an older woman already pregnant, perhaps presaging Bassanio, who in The Merchant of Venice won a wife who could save him from financial ruin. Here, too, is Shakespeare as a soldier, writing Henry the Fifth’s St. Crispin’s Day speech, with a nod to his own monarch Elizabeth I’s passionate addresses; as a justice, revealing his possible legal training in his precise use of the law in plays from Hamlet to Macbeth ; and as a pantaloon, an early retiree because of, Bate postulates, either illness or a scandal. Finally, Shakespeare enters oblivion, with sonnets that suggest he actively sought immortality through his art and secretly helped shape his posthumous image more than anyone ever knew.
Equal parts masterly detective story, brilliant literary analysis, and insightful world history, Soul of the Age is more than a superb new recounting of Shakespeare’s experiences; it is a bold and entertaining work of scholarship and speculation, one that shifts from past to present, reality to the imagination, to reveal how this unsurpassed artist came to be.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Soul of the Age|
|Release Date: 04-07-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
|Parent title||Soul of the Age|
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Soul of the Age
Here begins the plague
Exit pursued by a bear: antigonus is torn to pieces. a clownish young shepherd witnesses his death on land and many more losses on the sea as a tempest-tossed ship is swallowed by the waves. “A sad tale’s best for winter,” little Prince Mamillius has said, before being struck by death himself. But Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale veers from tragedy to comedy. Young Shepherd’s breathless description of heavy matters is counterpointed against Old Shepherd’s amazed discovery of new life in the form of the abandoned baby Perdita. “Thou met’st with things dying,” he serenely remarks to his son, “I with things new born.”
In Shakespeare’s England, birth and death went cheek by jowl. Each entry in the parish register of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon- Avon, is encoded with a single letter: C for christened, M for married, and B for buried. A ceaseless procession of birth, copulation, and death: human life stripped to its essentials. Shortly after the entry that reads “1564, Apr. 26. C. Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakspere”—April 26, 1564, christened, William, son of John Shakespeare—the entries marked B begin to thicken on the page. There were no more than twenty deaths in the first half of 1564, well over two hundred in the second. The population of this small but prosperous market town in the English Midland county of Warwickshire was about fifteen hundred, so more than one in seven were taken in those few months of devastation. The cause is duly noted in a marginal annotation opposite the burial entry