cover image Shakespearean: On Life and Language in Times of Disruption

Shakespearean: On Life and Language in Times of Disruption

Robert McCrum. Pegasus, $29.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-64313-789-6

Observer editor McCrum (Every Third Thought) delivers an amiable and informed take on Shakespeare’s everlasting impact in this fascinating account that wonders why it is that the Bard “live[s] on as one of us, not merely in Britain, but across the globe.” The author describes how audiences connect with Shakespeare’s work (as he wrote with “ordinary Londoners” in mind), explains how staged performances enhance readers’ understanding of the texts, and shows how the plays relate to “our shared humanity” with themes worth returning to no matter the era: mortality, progress, love, and language. McCrum offers historical context for the plays, pointing out that they built upon each other, as in thematic similarities between Hamlet and Twelfth Night, and argues that the plays transformed the theater into something “for his people.” He also makes entertaining connections between Shakespeare and contemporary pop culture, finding his subject’s influences in Snoop Dogg (with his wordplay) and Game of Thrones (which exemplifies the popularity of “dramas of history”). Full of close readings and enlightening observations, this is a poignant immersion into “Shakespeare’s extraordinary power.” Readers looking for an unpretentious introduction to the Bard should check this out. Agent: Clare Conville, Conville & Walsh Literary Agency. (Sept.)