Shakespeare Unbound: Decoding a Hidden Life

Rene Weis, Author . Holt/Macrae $32.50 (479p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7501-4

Shakespeare's subjective 'I' is everywhere” in his work, writes Weis, a professor of English at University College London, who pores over every line for evidence it may offer about the Bard's life. Weis frequently uses words like “perhaps,” “might have” and “possibly,” and he offers some eyebrow-raising deductions from the texts. Shakespeare walked with a limp, for example, and probably played the lame Nurse in Romeo and Juliet . The Bard was bisexual, at least in his emotions, and may well have slept with rival playwright Christopher Marlowe. Some of Weis's convictions are shared by other Shakespeareans: for instance, that the Dark Lady of the sonnets was likely Emilia Bassano, daughter of a Venetian Jewish musician. While Stephen Greenblatt's brilliant and equally speculativeWill in the World

focused on clues the work gave us about Shakespeare's engagement with Elizabethan society, Weis's conjectures tend to the personal: The Merchant of Venice

was a farewell to the triangular relationship immortalized in the sonnets; architectural metaphors in 2 Henry IV indicated that Shakespeare intended to buy a grand new house in Stratford. It's all great fun for Bardolators, who will appreciate Weis's formidable erudition. Others may occasionally wonder if it's necessary to so relentlessly identify real-world roots for one of literature's most fertile imaginations.

(Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/03/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 479 pages - 978-0-8050-8865-6
Open Ebook - 496 pages - 978-1-4668-5509-0
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