Will in the World (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 2004
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Will in the World Greenblatt interweaves a searching account of Elizabethan England with a vivid narrative of the playwright's life. Readers see Shakespeare learning his craft, starting a family, and forging a career for himself in the wildly competitive London theater world. Full description
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LET US IMAGINE that Shakespeare found himself from boyhood fascinated by language, obsessed with the magic of words. Lesen Sie die erste Seite
Buchdeckel | Copyright | Inhaltsverzeichnis | Auszug | Stichwortverzeichnis | Rückseite
Shakespeare’s own life and thought, but they make for fascinating thinking. Greenblatt presents his theories as to Shakespeare’s religion, relationships with his wife, other playwrights and several individuals known or suspected to have crossed his paths. From time to time the reader must remind himself that much of this book may or may not be true, but then set aside his admonitions and go on enjoying it!
This book is a great read for anyone with an interest in Shakespeare or the daily and cultural life of Elizabethan England.
Geradezu genüßlich stellt Greenblatt, "Erfinder" des New Historicism", in jedem der 12 Kapitel Verbidungen zwischen dem Leben des "Autors" und seinem Werk her. Ist die Figur des Falstaff Shakespeares Intimfeind Robert Greene nachempfunden? Hat Shakespeare seine Karriere (oder sogar sein Leben) riskiert, wenn er den Geist aus Hamlet aus dem Fegefeuer kurz auf die Erde zurückkehren lässt (das katholische Konzept des Fegefeuers war im elisabethianisch-anglikanischem England strikt untersagt)? Spiegelt sich nicht in so gut wie jedem Werk Wills verkorkste Beziehung zu Anne Hathaway wieder? Und wer spricht wirklich am Ende von Wills (eventuell) letztem Werk "The Tempest" den Satz "But this rough magic/ I here abjure"? Prospero, oder doch eher der "Autor" aus Stratford?
Kritik ist natürlich berechtigt und auch angebracht. Greenblatt gibt sich ganz seiner (berühmt-berüchtigten) Neigung hin, von anekdotenhaften Begebenheiten aus Wills Leben Schlußfolgerungen auf sein Werk zu ziehen. Das ist oft nachvollziehbar, wirk oft aber auch konstruiert. Auf jeden Fall ist es aber unterhaltsam zu lesen und "thought-provoking", was ja meiner Meinung auch ein wichtiger Bestandteil einer Biografie sein sollte.
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As the world's preeminent Shakespeare scholar, Greenblatt has managed to assemble all these sources and, with a healthy dose of conjecture, arrive at something resembling a biography of the world's greatest dramatist. More than that, though, this work is a biography of the age in which Shakespeare lived and wrote---Elizabethan and Jacobian London---and how the major events of this time affected Shakespeare's plays. For example, the writing of King Lear may have been encouraged by a trial in 1603 in which two sisters tried to have their father declared insane so they could take control of his wealth and estate, while the youngest daughter (named Cordell) tried to stop them---a story uncannily similar to what is considered to be the Bard's greatest tragedy.
What impressed me the most about this biography is how ORDINARY Shakespeare seemingly was. He didn't seem pretentious or snobbish, as some people envision him. He was born to a humble family and lived frugally, despite dying a rather wealthy man.
Although Greenblatt's writing is clear and accessible, he makes the assumption that you have already read Shakespeare's plays, or at least are VERY familiar with them. I have read about two thirds of them and felt a little behind when he discussed plays I hadn't read, so if you haven't read more than, say, ten of his plays, the major ones, you need to crack open the Norton Shakespeare (of which Greenblatt is the editor-in-chief) before you approach Will in the World.
Although Greenblatt bases a lot of his observations and conclusions on deduction and supposition, he makes a lot of intelligent and accurate observations about the world that shaped William Shakespeare. He also, in turn, speculates (sometimes hitting his target and sometimes not)how Shakespeare used the world that formed him to, in turn, form his great works. Are all the conclusions perfect and ironclad? Greenblatt also points to popular works in latin that Will loved so much that he incorporated some basic plot elements into his plays as well (not unlike the Greek playwrites of their era).
Biographers, like historians, draw conclusions from evidence but those conclusions are informed by the bias of their time. That's also true of Greenblatt's work. Still, he makes some remarkable observations and his insights into Will's world will leave you thinking about the plays and sonnets in a whole new way. That's the value of a cultural and historical biography like this. While all the details of Shakespeare's life may be sketchy luckily for us his great plays (even though they've been through many hands and editors over the years) are not. They continue to resonate with great observations about human nature. Greenblatt's book will reshape some of your thinking about the man behind "The Tempest" and "Hamlet" and other times you'll find you completely disagree with him. That's the art of a great biography to create an atmosphere where discussion fuels the fire of interpretation.
What makes this book a cut above any "biographies" is the fact that Greenblatt is more intent on raising questions than passing any of his well informed suppositions off as fact. And interesting questions they are. For instance, why is Shakespeare's wife virtually left out of his last will & testament? Bequeathing her only a "2nd best bed" after 30+ years of marriage & nothing else? What Greenblatt does here is take what little historical records we have, coupled with the politics of the age & tie them into Shakespeare's work. What emerges is an ever so faint pencil sketch of a shrewd, practically minded opportunist who despite his phenomenal success, sought to call as little attention to his personal affairs as possible. In other words, a deliberate cipher. Someone who took in the the sundry world around him & put it all on display in the conveniently ironic guise of Fiction. But someone who seems to have consciously left little or no record of himself beyond his work. So what little we know may actually reveal more than we think. Greenblatt reminds us what a dangerous time Shakespeare was living in. One had to be extremely cautious lest the celebrity of one's words wind up on the end of a pike on London Bridge. Thoughout it all, Greenblatt wisely never leaves the realm of speculation but does a masterful job of aligning current events alongside Shakespeare's words. The chapter, "Laughing At The Scaffold" is an excellent example. The Merchant Of Venice is not only one of Shakespeare's most difficult comedies but one of his most easily misunderstood. I have to say I walked away with a clearer mind on it. It also served as a reminder of how Shakespeare could take a villainous cliche & infuse it with an empathy that not only reveals prejudice for what it is, but human frailty as well.
So how did this grammer schooled, glove-maker's son become the most esteemed playwright of his age? How did he out master such cut-thoat contemporaries as Marlowe & the rest of the University wits? Look to the chapter called, "Shakescene" The fact that they all died within a 6 month period might have something to do with it. Another factor may be that unlike his fellow playwrights at the time, Shakespeare the only one who was actually an actor.
Another key aspect of this book is what Greenblatt calls "deliberate opacity". Why did he take the trouble to deliberately cloud the motivations of a character like Iago, when this same character in Shakespeare's source material plainly states, "because I love Desdemona"? Perhaps, therein in lies the great gift of Shakespeare as a writer. To know that human nature is never black & white, nor as simple as Good vs. Evil. Perhaps Shakespeare knew that by leaving so much to question, it gave liscence to the imagination of actor & audience member alike. Revealing without ever having to explain. Leaving room for interpretation. By highlighting this particular literary device in Hamlet, Lear & beyond, Greenblatt succeeds on shedding a little light on the man behind the Legend. I walked away with the impression of of a man who was not only able to stand outside of society, but profit from it. Someone with a kind & gracious heart but may have loathed his wife. Someone who was low key enough to observe but also someone who could also get fantastically carried away. In short, like many of his characters, a study in contradiction. A useful read for actor, director & scholar alike.
The problem for any biographer of Shakespeare is, of course, the minimal records left behind. Apart from some information left in church and financial records, there is almost nothing of certainty known about Shakespeare. A Shakespearean biographer, then, is forced to make a certain number of guesses and speculations if he is going to come up with any kind of complete story for a reader. Historically, these speculations have ranged from the mundane to the outrageous but they always must rely on the reader's trust of the author's scholarship and how it relates to our own understanding of Shakespeare. I find Mr. Greenblatt to be a very believable biographer.
The main reason I find Mr. Greenblatt's work to be so compelling is the correlations he finds between well-recorded historical events, what is known of Shakespeare and, ultimately, how this finds its way into Shakespeare's work. For example, in the first chapter Greenblatt describes a visit Queen Elizabeth made to Kenilworth where Leicester puts on a grand display for her. Now, was Shakespeare present at these festivities, perhaps even as a young country player? There is no way to know for sure but Greenblatt quotes Robert Langham's letter describing the event and takes us to lines from Midsummer Nights Dream. Shakespeare's recreation of the event is striking. Perhaps he was there.
The other reason I like Greenblatt's work on Shakespeare is that he makes him human. Unlike Harold Bloom, for example (whose work I also greatly admire), who has a distracting tendency to deify Shakespeare, Mr. Greenblatt keeps Shakespeare deeply rooted in the real world. No less a genius for that, Greenblatt's Shakespeare is a man whose work was influenced by his life and experiences and not pulled wholesale from the Muse.
Again and again Greenblatt impresses with his extensive knowledge of history and Shakespeare's work. In doing so, he takes us through Shakespeare's life and time from beginning to end. In the end, he leaves us with a picture of a man and his times--if not a sharp as a photograph then at least as beautiful as an impressionist painting.