Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt
How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

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Synopsis

"Greenblatt knows more about [Shakespeare] than Ben Jonson or the Dark Lady did."—John Leonard, ?Harper's


A young man from a small provincial town moves to London in the late 1580s and, in a remarkably short time, becomes the greatest playwright not of his age alone but of all time. How is an achievement of this magnitude to be explained? How did Shakespeare become Shakespeare? Stephen Greenblatt brings us down to earth to see, hear, and feel how an acutely sensitive and talented boy, surrounded by the rich tapestry of Elizabethan life, could have become the world's greatest playwright. ?A Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award Finalist.
 

About Stephen Greenblatt

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Stephen Greenblatt (Ph.D. Yale) is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. Also General Editor of The Norton Shakespeare, he is the author of eleven books, including The Swerve: How the World Became Modern; Shakespeare's Freedom; Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare; Hamlet in Purgatory; Practicing New Historicism; Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World; and Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture. He has edited seven collections of criticism, including Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto, and is a founding coeditor of the journal Representations. His honors include the MLA's James Russell Lowell Prize for Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England, the Distinguished Humanist Award from the Mellon Foundation, the Wilbur Cross Medal from the Yale University Graduate School, the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, the Erasmus Institute Prize, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of California, Berkeley. He was president of the Modern Language Association of America and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
 
Published May 3, 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company. 448 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Will in the World

Kirkus Reviews

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Even a renowned scholar like Greenblatt, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of Elizabethan England, of Shakespeare’s material world, of his literary works and who has a capacious imagination equal to the task of writing the life of someone who died 400 year ago—even such a scholar must populate hi...

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The New York Times

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The literary critic, theorist and Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt’s new book, “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern,” is partly about an obsessive book collector, and it begins, appropriately enough, with a book purchase of the author’s own.

Sep 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Will in the World: How Shakes...

The Guardian

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One of best books published last year was an unconventional but utterly gripping account of Shakespeare's life, Will in the World (Cape), by Stephen Greenblatt, a senior scholar in the college of Stratford studies, the editor of a flagship volume, The Norton Shakespeare.

Feb 20 2005 | Read Full Review of Will in the World: How Shakes...

The Guardian

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So it is heartening to find Stephen Greenblatt, one of the leading Shakespeare authorities of the moment, pitching tent in the heretical camp with Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare.

Oct 09 2004 | Read Full Review of Will in the World: How Shakes...

The Guardian

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Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt 406pp, Cape, £20 Why would anyone buy yet another biography of Shakespeare?

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Publishers Weekly

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In this gloriously learned page-turner, both biography and intellectual history, Harvard Shakespearean scholar Greenblatt (Will in the World) turns his attention to the front end of the Renaissance as the origin of Western culture's foundation: the free questioning of truth.

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BC Books

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Physicists get Einstein. Musicians get Mozart. Artists get Picasso. And writers, they strive to match the good ol' Bill S.

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BC Books

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This is a sophisticated look at one of the language's great writers and seems intended for an audience already familiar with the much of the story.

Dec 30 2009 | Read Full Review of Will in the World: How Shakes...

BC Books

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Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare is a whirlwind tour through the life and times of the scribbler from Stratford.

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BC Books

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Any book worth reading about Shakespeare will necessarily include a certain amount of fabrication, we know that little about the man.

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Examiner

Synopsis: Stephen Greenblatt provides the layman with a leisurely opportunity to scan the metamorphosis of script.

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Los Angeles Times

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Copley's translation of this wondrous poem to coincide with Stephen Greenblatt's "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern," an equally wondrous book about how this classic was nearly lost and why Western civilization would be much poorer if that had happened.

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Christian Science Monitor

As Stephen Greenblatt, author of a hugely entertaining biography of William Shakespeare ("Will in the World"), reminds us in his fascinating new book, it ought to seem astonishing that we can still lay hands on any of the classics when we contemplate the profound fragility of parchment, paper, in...

Oct 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Will in the World: How Shakes...

Dallas News

In 1417, after it had lain dormant for almost a thousand years, what may have been the last surviving copy ofOn the Nature of Things(de rerum natura) was found in a German monastery.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

(In what was perhaps his most impressive act of intellectual precocity, Lucretius described humans, and other living things, as resulting from an essentially Darwinian view of evolution by natural selection.) Moreover, the Epicurean/Lucretian view was not only a physical vision of the cosmos but...

Oct 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Will in the World: How Shakes...

Macleans

But by making the life of a 15th-century book lover feel as relevant today as, say, that of a 20th-century computer mogul, Greenblatt accomplishes his own improbable feat of rediscovery.

Jan 25 2012 | Read Full Review of Will in the World: How Shakes...

Library Journal

It is debatable if Shakespeare was born on April 23 or not (scholars can only verify the date of his baptism) but it is known he died on April 23.

Apr 23 2012 | Read Full Review of Will in the World: How Shakes...

London Review of Books

Park Honan’s biography of 1998 (still the best life of Shakespeare) includes several passages of subjunctive biography, in which he carefully reconstructs what might have happened to Shakespeare if, say, he had gone to Lancashire in the 1570s.

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Bookmarks Magazine

There is abundant evidence here of what is Mr. Greenblatt's great and rare gift as a writer: an ability, to borrow a phrase from The Swerve, to feel fully ‘the concentrated force of the buried past.'" Dwight Garner NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars "The voyage of De Rerum Natura through time...

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Bookmarks Magazine

Jeff Dolven Houston Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars "Greenblatt brilliantly evokes the world in which Shakespeare lived and worked … While Greenblatt’s version of how Shakespeare became Shakespeare is at times rather speculative and extravagant (which Greenblatt clearly is aware of), nevertheless Wil...

Oct 08 2007 | Read Full Review of Will in the World: How Shakes...

Austin Chronicle

The shelves groan with biographies that attempt to show us the man behind the ever-astonishing works of Shakespeare, so many that you'd think there can't possibly be anything left to add.

Oct 07 2005 | Read Full Review of Will in the World: How Shakes...

Project MUSE

Stephen Greenblatt pursues a painterly rather than linear approach to his biographical tale of Will in the World, elaborating several central narratives at the heart of Shakespeare's life: Shakespeare as the transgressive "personator/impersonator" of nobility and kings;

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Project MUSE

Like a more explicit version of Shakespeare in Love, Will in the World recognizes that the works are the life: "no one who responds intensely to Shakespeare's art," Greenblatt insists, "can believe that the plays and poems came exclusively from his reading" (13).

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Project MUSE

Schoenbaum's William Shakespeare: A Documentary Life (later telescoped into A Compact Documentary Life), and Park Honan's 1998 Shakespeare: A Life.

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Fred Beauford

A complex man of integrity — at least when he was young when integrity seems most important — he would not take the easy, and far more lucrative, career route in the Church of becoming a priest or monk because he lacked “...the calling that might have led him to take religious orders.” Hi...

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Greenblatt approaches Shakespeare's biography by drawing clues from existing documents and the pu

Jan 01 2014 | Read Full Review of Will in the World: How Shakes...

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