Shapiro divides his book into four seasons, picks a play for each one, and then puts that play into the context of Shakespeare's world. Winter focuses on *Henry V* and how it reflects the English campaign in Ireland. Spring draws parallels between *Julius Caesar* and the highly structured court of the day. Since Shakespeare traveled to Stratford-on-Avon that summer, *As You Like It* plays out against the backdrop of Shakespeare's attainment of a coat of arms. Finally, melancholy *Hamlet* plays out against the backdrop of an aging queen, a looming succession crisis, and the first tentative steps into empire building. Shapiro does a nice job placing Shakespeare in context, but ultimately it's not a particularly memorable book.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare
1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare never fully captured my attention, but it did make me want to watch and read the four plays mentioned. I think it was because of Shapiro's writing style - clear but not engrossing.