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B. J Robbins
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I have the hardback edition that came out in 1970. It is what some people call a "coffee table book", but it never spends much time on MY coffee table.
Full of color portraits of the major players, some modern photos of Stratford, this is a view of Shakespeare through Burgess' Eyes...and that means a very fascinating journey, full of facts, his opinions, his wonderful writing style, humor, and intelligence.
He takes care of those who don't think Shakespeare wrote the plays within the scope of one page, as only a REAL writer could. Even his captions for the pictures are worth reading (Marlowe: "His death in 1593 left Shakespeare without equal as a dramatic poet")...His description of Henslowe is hilarious, his comparison between the genius' of Marlowe and Shakespeare very though provoking, and his portrait of Shakespeare the man and what he might have been thinking at different points in his life, e.g., after the Globe burned down, he thinks Shakespeare thought it was time to go home to Stratford as he had given so many years to that theater...
I do not like, however, his disparaging account of Ann Shakespeare, as many male authors do, despite the lack of evidence about how he felt about her, with the misunderstanding about the second best bed, even though by law, Anne would be receiving one-third of his estate, and had been staying with Susanna and her husband at New Place. Anne wanted to be buried next to him, so we at least know how she felt about him. Many women married at 26 (Shakespeare's daughter, Judith, married at an even later date), and the Hathaway's were a well off family, while John Shakespeare was in a lot of financial trouble. And we will never know who seduced who, or it was an arranged marriage (they certainly know each other for many years), or, as I like to think, they always had a liking for each other...
He mentions some passages about Shakespeare that you will rarely find anywhere, like when Shakespeare's company was performing in the country at an estate, and supposedly a letter said that "We have the man Shakespeare here"...
The final Chapter about his death after his short retirement is unforgettable. His final paragraph about that we should not mourn the fact that we do not have a satisfactory painting of Shakespeare, is Burgess at his best:
"To see his face, we need only look in a mirror. He is ourselves, ordinary suffering humanity, fired by modest ambitions, concerned with money, the victim of desire, all too mortal. To his back, like a hump, was strapped a miraculous, but somehow irrelevant, talent. It is a talent which, more than any other that the world has seen, reconcile us to being human beings, unsatisfactory hybrids, not good enough for gods and not good enough for animals. We are all Will. Shakespeare is the name of one of our redeemers."
Amen. No one has said it better.