Becoming Shakespeare begins with his death in 1616 and relates the fascinating story of his unlikely transformation from provincial playwright to universal Bard. Unlike later literary giants, Shakespeare created no stir when he died. Though he'd once had a string of hit plays, he had been retired in the country for six years, and only his family, friends, and business partners seemed to care that he was gone. Within a few years he was nearly forgotten. And when London's theaters were shut down in 1642, he seemed destined for oblivion. With the Restoration in 1660, though, the theaters were open once again, and Shakespeare began his long ascent: No longer merely one playwright among many, he became the transcendent genius at the heart of English culture.
Fifty years after the Restoration scholars began taking him seriously. Fifty years after that he was considered England's greatest genius. And by 1800 he was practically divine. Jack Lynch vividly chronicles Shakespeare's afterlife from the revival of his plays to the decades when his work was co-opted and improved by politicians and other playwrights, and culminating with the Bardolatry of the Stratford celebration of Shakespeare's 300th birthday in 1864. Becoming Shakespeare is not only essential reading for anyone intrigued by Shakespeare, but it also offers a consideration of the vagaries of fame.
"Lynch is most interesting when examining how different eras rewrote and edited Shakespeare to make the plays meet the moral and theatrical standards of their time...Lynch's text will appeal to general readers with an interest in Shakespeare. Recommended for public libraries." (Library Journal)
"Highly readable…A marvelous trip through four centuries of English literary and theatrical history." (Dallas Morning News)
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- C. Telfair
An entertaining look at the making of a legend
- Doc S. Hodges