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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

The Last Neanderthal: A Novel
Claire Cameron
Orson Scott Card
Richard Ford
Progress: 36/420 pages

The Year of Lear / James Shapiro

The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606 - James Shapiro

So this year is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. I didn’t realize that earlier in the year and it is just fortuitous that this has become my year of binge-watching and binge-reading the Bard. I’m having a grand time doing it too.

I heard about this book on CBC radio and since I think I saw King Lear twice last year (once live & once via film), I was intrigued enough to put a hold on our public library’s copy. I am so glad that I did! I haven’t read a great deal about the Bard himself, but I am going to have to rectify that lapse in coming months.

The Year of Lear is a fascinating look at this eventful year in William Shakespeare’s world. I usually think of him as an Elizabethan playwright, but as the author of this book reminds us, he also wrote during the reign of King James (he of the famous Biblical translation). Politics had changed a lot—witness the fact that 1606 had England dealing with the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot (and they have been celebrating Guy Fawkes Day ever since!) Not to mention the ravages of plague, visits of foreign rulers, and many other events which would have impinged on Shakespeare’s life.

What I had not realized was how prolific 1606 was for the playwright—he wrote King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra that year! If you are interested in how current events shaped all three plays, give this book a try.

Accessible writing, fascinating history, and a timeless playwright. What more could one desire?