A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
With First Folio and other theater companies performing Shakespeare this summer, it seems a good time to read about the Bard.
Bill Bryson has turned from humorous autobiography to nearly straight biography with Shakespeare: The World as Stage. He is not seeking laughs with this title, but his wit is still evident in some of his remarks about Elizabethan and Jacobean culture and the stupidity of poor scholars trying to prove that someone other than Shakespeare wrote his plays. In this short book, Bryson gets to the heart of the playwright’s story and still entertains. I was most fascinated by the discussion of Shakespeare’s impact on the English language, which was evolving away from Middle English during his day. The playwright is credited with the first recorded use of 2035 words, of which over 800 are in common use. Frugal, dwindle, horrid, barefaced, and zany are words he coined, as are many un- words, like unhand, unmask, and untie. Despite Bryson pointing out frequently that we really know very little about the Bard, I feel I know him better. This is a great read for people who enjoy the plays. – Review by Rick