Shakespeare by Michael Wood

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A brilliant piece of historical investigative journalism, Shakespeare is a fresh telling of the playwright's life based on a wide range of newly discovered sources, such as police and torture records. Rather than approaching Shakespeare as an isolated genius, Wood argues that he was very much a product of his place and time--a period of upheaval that straddled the medieval and modern worlds. It was a time of great tensions, marked by murderous plots and purges of the Elizabethan police state, from the Somerville Plot and the Essex rebellion to the Gunpowder Plot, which can now be shown to have touched Shakespeare and his family directly. If we wonder why Shakespeare was so obsessed with violence, and especially the violence of the state, there is an answer: This was Shakespeare's world.Furthermore, Wood reveals new and surprising evidence about: Shakespeare's Catholic faith, his work, and his attitudes on sex and on race. In doing so he reinstates the image of Shakespeare as a thinking artist, his work based firmly in the religion, politics, culture and class antagonisms of his day. Shakespeare plunges us headlong into the turbulent life and times of William Shakespeare. Presented in a beautifully designed package, with over 100 four-color and black-and-white illustrations, the result is a more convincing and complete portrait of the artist than was previously thought possible.

About Michael Wood

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Michael Wood is an acclaimed author and TV presenter. A broadcaster and film-maker of extraordinary range, Wood has over eighty documentary films to his name, including In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, In Search of the Trojan War, and In Search of Shakespeare. Educated at Oxford, Wood is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Published October 15, 2003 by Basic Books. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction, History, Travel. Non-fiction

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The New York Times

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Its greatest example of foolishness may be the way the Bodleian Library at Oxford sold off a precious First Folio in the 1660s to purchase the Third Folio, which added errors to the first (though Oxford was able to re-acquire the First in 1906).

Jul 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Shakespeare

Open Letters Monthly

Penguin Classics recently published a very pretty “Deluxe Edition” of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer with a wonderful Introduction by James Wood in which he points out the tremendous debt English-speaking readers owe to the phrases and cadences of the book.

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London Review of Books

Indeed, such is his confidence that he can say without embarrassment that ‘cultural materialism draws upon the work of Shakespeare – and he certainly did not believe any of that.’ Here the caricatured determinism of an equally caricatured intellectual position is replaced by a preferred form of v...

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Project MUSE

This collection, a sequel or companion to the editors' Shakespeare, Film, Fin de Siècle (2000), describes a Shakespeare who not only is "a magnet for negotiations about style, value and cultural identity" but who also is "made understandable via an intertextual apparatus .

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The Morning Call

But when his daughter, Miranda, falls in love with Alonso's son, Ferdinand, Prospero's conscience is awakened and he forgives his brother and the king with pomp and spectacle.

Jun 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Shakespeare

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