Will's Will of Will
Saturday, December 17, 2005
A couple of weeks ago, I bought the book Will in the World
, by Stephen Greenblatt, with the intention of learning a bit more about the enigmatic writer.
I have been tied up with a couple of different things, but I finally had a chance to read it during the past few nights.
The book is a chain of speculative stories that try to explain how Shakespeare may have become the William Shakespeare
we all know, and how his most memorable plays and characters, probably, came to life.
Around the late XVI century, playwrights of the times gathered at local pubs to discuss the daily goings of the old London, England. Among these patrons, one could find a group Oxbridge
graduates, who took turns, when the chance presented itself, to look down upon the university un-graduate from Stratford-upon-Avon. Greenblatt speculates that the unforgettable Falstaff was probably based on one of Shakespeare's literary foes, Robert Greene
Although the book goes into the details on the probable life of Will, one of the main points I got from it is the demystification of a genius: he was a thespian; a playwright; a husband, and a bad one at that; a father, and a son; a money lender; but most important of all, he was a regular person--just like you an I. Shakespeare, though, had the remarkable gift of absorption, and of course a limitless source of creativity, which allowed him to transform the quotidian into literary, complete, and complex universes within his many plays and sonnets (Greenblatt).
Shakespeare was also a man of his times--he copied, borrowed, and stole ideas from his contemporaries (not unusual then); his theater company succeeded in a very competitive environment (a diminishing environment, when you count the plague killing off his customers); Will, according to Greenblatt, was a great business man.
I can only wonder what Will would do in our current times. Would he be a screen writer? Would he be an actor? Would he write for The Simpsons?
Even though the book is a great read and helps bring Shakespeare's work to a new light among us (the unlearnt), I have to point out that it is a work built on speculation of "what" may have led the son of a farmer to become the greatest English author in our documented
history (so far).
I give it four "ghosts of dead fathers of some crazy prince trying to avenge an untimely death" out of four.