Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Book of the Week

The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street by Charles Nicholl.

The facts of Shakespeare's life are so meagre that it is difficult to produce more than a monograph without considerable speculative padding. Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World a few years ago, placed Shakespeare at the centre of his time, of the political events of the period. Nicholl has an entirely different task. At the beginning of the last century a manuscript was discovered showing that Shakespeare, while living as a lodger in a house on Silver Street in London, was called as a witness to a legal dispute about the failed payment of a dowry. Nicholl recreates the ordinary, everyday life of the neighbourhood, the street, the house, and even the kind of furnishings of the room in which Shakespeare wrote. It's as if we are seeing Doris Lessing going out to the corner shop to buy a tin of cat food. There is an increasingly eerie sensation as we move closer and closer to the fabric of Shakespeare's reality: the playwright among one of many neighbours earning a living, buying and cooking food, stopping to talk on the street. In the end we are no closer to this man's incomprehensible genius, but we do understand that he took his influences not from thin air, but the lives of those around him, brief forgotten lives given an additional meaning by falling beneath the gaze of one who would change the way we think and feel.

You can buy it here

or here

1 comment:

Phyllis said...

Oh I loved "Will in teh World" (read it twice even)...this is now on my reading list!