Customer comments on this Youngstown Ohio Book
An extrodinary year for Shakespeare
This is one of the best books I have read dealing with Shakespeare. Becuase it has such a specific focus, the year 1599, it is able to take an indepth look at some of Shakespeare's best work. The book focuses on some of Shakespeare's best plays: Julius Ceaser, As You Like It, and Hamlet, but unlike so many other Shakesperian analysis he does not look at this only from a literary standpoint Shapirio looks at it from a historical view. Shapirio chronicles the events in Shakespeare's life and in local and global politics that would effect what he was writting in a particular year. This specificity of this topic allows Shapirio to fully engage the reader in intresting and unique analysis of very well known plays. Though this book is detailed and very focused it is by no means dull. This book is engaging and witty throughout. I would strongly reccomend this to anyone intrested Shakespeare or the Elizabethan Era.
A challenging book that is well worth the time and effort.
Recently I was given a copy of "A Year In The Life of William Shakespeare: 1599" as a gift. Although I am an avid reader of non-fiction I initially balked at reading this volume because literature is really not my cup of tea. I have always struggled to understand Shakespearean plays and as such I felt I would get very little out of this book. I expected the book to be dry and uninteresting. I was wrong. James Shapiro has done a splendid job of helping someone like myself to get a handle on who William Shakespeare was and more importantly what his plays are all about.
The idea was really quite simple. Shapiro chose what he considered to be the most important year of Shakespeare's life and paints a vivid portrait of just what was transpiring in England during that time. It is a brilliant concept. As a history buff I was pleased to discover the issues that were raging in England during this period. And while I continue to struggle with the language in the many excerpts from Shakespeare's plays that are cited in the book I now at least have some clue as to what is going on and why. By making the effort to read "A Year In The Life of William Shakespeare" I have gained valuable insight into a time and place I knew little about. And if you are someone who is well versed in the works of William Shakespeare I suspect you would glean a whole lot more from Mr. Shapiro's book that I was able to. It is in the end a book that is well worth your time. Recommended!
not your ordinary "year-in-the-life"
One man, one year - what a difference it makes (with a bit of prosaic license). I picked up this book with considerable skepticism - how interesting can one year be in anyone's life. The answer - if you organize biographies like plays (with a bit of space-time rearrangement), very. It may be redundant to call Shakespeare a genius, but an unfamiliar genius from the popular lore he becomes. Not a brilliant writer as much as a brilliant re-interpreter of seemingly ordinary plays. Not just an artist, but a shrewd businessman with the political instincts of a survivor in treacherous times. One who gets away with political commentary that may have lead (and did) less canny artists to the chopping block. In this day and age when artists carp about having to choose between art and popular appeal, Shakespeare hardly saw this as conflict. And a word about the author - American scholarship at its best - lucid, enlightening and unpretentious, with an economy of prose that strikes the right balance without seeming either terse or prolix.