Search-icon

Soul of the Age

A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare

By

eBook published by Random House (Random House Publishing Group)

have you read it? rate it!
Histogram_reset_icon
(2 REVIEWS)
ADD TO MY SHELF
About This Book
“One man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”

In this illuminating, innovative biography, Jonathan Bate, one of today’s most accomplished Shakespearean scholars, has found a fascinating new way to tell the story of the great dramatist. Using the Bard’s own immortal list of a man’s seven ages in As You Like It, Bate deduces the crucial events of Shakespeare’s life and connects them to his world and work as never before.

Here is the author as an infant, born into a world of plague and syphillis, diseases with which he became closely familiar; as a schoolboy, a position he portrayed in The Merry Wives of Windsor, in which a clever, cheeky lad named William learns Latin grammar; as a lover, married at eighteen to an older woman already pregnant, perhaps presaging Bassanio, who in The Merchant of Venice won a wife who could save him from financial ruin. Here, too, is Shakespeare as a soldier, writing Henry the Fifth’s St. Crispin’s Day speech, with a nod to his own monarch Elizabeth I’s passionate addresses; as a justice, revealing his possible legal training in his precise use of the law in plays from Hamlet to Macbeth; and as a pantaloon, an early retiree because of, Bate postulates, either illness or a scandal. Finally, Shakespeare enters oblivion, with sonnets that suggest he actively sought immortality through his art and secretly helped shape his posthumous image more than anyone ever knew.

Equal parts masterly detective story, brilliant literary analysis, and insightful world history, Soul of the Age is more than a superb new recounting of Shakespeare’s experiences; it is a bold and entertaining work of scholarship and speculation, one that shifts from past to present, reality to the imagination, to reveal how this unsurpassed artist came to be.


From the Hardcover edition.
Show less
“One man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”

In this illuminating, innovative biography, Jonathan Bate, one of today’s most accomplished Shakespearean scholars, has found a fascinating new way to tell the story of the great dramatist. Using the Bard’s own immortal list of a man’s seven ages in As You Like It, Bate deduces the crucial events of Shakespeare’s life and connects them to his world and work as never before.

Here is the author as an infant, born into a world of plague and syphillis, diseases with which he became closely familiar; as a schoolboy, a position he portrayed in The Merry Wives of Windsor, in which a clever, cheeky lad named William learns Latin grammar; as a lover, married at eighteen to an older woman already pregnant, perhaps presaging Bassanio, who in The Merchant of Venice won a wife who could save him from financial ruin. Here, too, is Shakespeare as a soldier, writing Henry the Fifth’s St. Crispin’s Day speech, with a nod to his own monarch Elizabeth I’s passionate addresses; as a justice, revealing his possible legal training in his precise use of the law in plays from Hamlet to Macbeth; and as a pantaloon, an early retiree because of, Bate postulates, either illness or a scandal. Finally, Shakespeare enters oblivion, with sonnets that suggest he actively sought immortality through his art and secretly helped shape his posthumous image more than anyone ever knew.

Equal parts masterly detective story, brilliant literary analysis, and insightful world history, Soul of the Age is more than a superb new recounting of Shakespeare’s experiences; it is a bold and entertaining work of scholarship and speculation, one that shifts from past to present, reality to the imagination, to reveal how this unsurpassed artist came to be.


From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
eBook
Published: April 7, 2009
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House
ISBN: 9781588367815
Other books byJonathan Bate
  • William Shakespeare and Others

    William Shakespeare and Others
    Collaborative Plays
    Among the plays staged at the Globe and published in Shakespeare's lifetime were The London Prodigal by William Shakespeare, A Yorkshire Tragedy written by W. Shakespeare and Thomas Lord Cromwell written by W. S. Could Shakespeare really have written these plays? Why were they excluded from the First Folio of his collected works? Edited by renowned Shakespeare scholars Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen and published in coordination with the Royal Shakespeare Company, this is the first edition in over 100 years of the fascinatingly varied body of plays that has become known as "The Shakespeare Apocrypha". Among the highlights are the whole text of Sir Thomas More, which includes the only scene from any play to survive in Shakespeare's own handwriting; the history play Edward III, including a superb seduction scene by Shakespeare; and the domestic murder tragedy Arden of Faversham, in which Shakespeare's hand has been detected by recent computer-assisted analysis. This is also the first ever Shakespeare edition to include the 1602 edition of Thomas Kyd's pioneering The Spanish Tragedy, with "additions" that the latest research attributes to Shakespeare. Included is a comprehensive account of the authorship and attribution of each play. Featuring introductions and background on each play, key fact boxes with information on sources and the distribution of parts, on-page notes explaining difficult or obsolete vocabulary, and interviews with directors and actors who have staged the plays, this work will be an essential addition to the library of any Shakespeare buff.

    The Winter's Tale

    The Winter's Tale
    One of the last plays Shakespeare penned on his own, The Winter’s Tale is a transcendent work of death and rebirth, exploring irrational sexual jealousy, the redemptive world of nature, and the magical power of art. Under the editorial supervision of Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, two of today’s most accomplished Shakespearean scholars, this Modern Library series incorporates definitive texts and authoritative notes from William Shakespeare: Complete Works. Each play includes an Introduction as well as an overview of Shakespeare’s theatrical career; commentary on past and current productions based on interviews with leading directors, actors, and designers; scene-by-scene analysis; key facts about the work; a chronology of Shakespeare’s life and times; and black-and-white illustrations. Ideal for students, theater professionals, and general readers, these modern and accessible editions from the Royal Shakespeare Company set a new standard in Shakespearean literature for the twenty-first century.

    All's Well That Ends Well

    All's Well That Ends Well
    “A young man married is a man that’s marr’d.” —All’s Well That Ends Well   Eminent Shakespearean scholars Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen provide a fresh new edition of this classic play about gender, desire, and sexual love.   THIS VOLUME ALSO INCLUDES MORE THAN A HUNDRED PAGES OF EXCLUSIVE FEATURES:   • an original Introduction to All’s Well That Ends Well • incisive scene-by-scene synopsis and analysis with vital facts about the work • commentary on past and current productions based on interviews with leading directors, actors, and designers • photographs of key RSC productions • an overview of Shakespeare’s theatrical career and chronology of his plays   Ideal for students, theater professionals, and general readers, these modern and accessible editions from the Royal Shakespeare Company set a new standard in Shakespearean literature for the twenty-first century.

    Antony and Cleopatra

    Antony and Cleopatra
    Written at the pinnacle of Shakespeare’s career and featuring his most soaring poetic idiom, Antony and Cleopatra is both an immortal love story and a political drama played out on a global scale. Under the editorial supervision of Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, two of today’s most accomplished Shakespearean scholars, this Modern Library series incorporates definitive texts and authoritative notes from William Shakespeare: Complete Works. Each play includes an Introduction as well as an overview of Shakespeare’s theatrical career; commentary on past and current productions based on interviews with leading directors, actors, and designers; scene-by-scene analysis; key facts about the work; a chronology of Shakespeare’s life and times; and black-and-white illustrations. Ideal for students, theater professionals, and general readers, these modern and accessible editions from the Royal Shakespeare Company set a new standard in Shakespearean literature for the twenty-first century.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
Quote Cannot be Empty

Submitted quotes are usually posted within 48 hours

ThanksYour Quote Will be posted Shortly
Bookish