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Esquire
Wednesday, September 15th, 2004


 

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

by Stephen Greenblatt

The Hurried Man's Guide to Shakespeare

A review by Anna Godbersen

Sure, there's been enough Shakespeare biographies written to fill the old Globe Theatre. But not by eminent Harvard Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt, who combines cultural history with a close reading of the bard's work to envision what Shakes's life might have been like. For those too busy to contemplate how a promising young man spent the 1570s (studying Latin and making gloves), here is our Hurried Man's Guide to Will in the World.

Why you should read it: It's the most detailed biography of the greatest poet in the English language.

Why you won't: The playoffs commence anon!

Childhood: Will's father was a drunk, inspiring the young lad to stay sober and write.

The player: Despite being married, Shakespeare wrote his most romantic verses to a narcissistic nobleman and a mysterious woman who gave him an STD.

Tips from the master: Poaching is just fine; Shakes "borrowed" from everyone, including his most serious rival, Christopher Marlowe.

How to sound as if you read it: "I concur with Greenblatt that Shakespeare was, vis--vis his contemporaries, morally conservative. But of course, it was the creation of interiority in dramatic monologue that really set him apart."


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