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On Life & Language in Times of Disruption

Robert McCrum



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03 December 2021
'Enchanting' - Simon Russell Beale 'Remarkable' - James Shapiro 'Wonderful . . . compulsively readable' - Nicholas Hytner

Why do the collected works of an Elizabethan writer continue to speak to us as if they were written yesterday?

When Robert McCrum began his recovery from a life-changing stroke, described in My Year Off, he discovered that the only words that made sense to him were snatches of Shakespeare. Unable to travel or move as he used to, McCrum found the First Folio became his 'book of life', an endless source of inspiration through which he could embark on 'journeys of the mind', and see a reflection of our own disrupted times.

An acclaimed writer and journalist, McCrum has spent the last twenty-five years immersed in Shakespeare's work, on stage and on the page. During this prolonged exploration, Shakespeare's poetry and plays, so vivid and contemporary, have become his guide and consolation. In Shakespearean he asks: Why is it that we always return to Shakespeare, particularly in times of acute crisis and dislocation? What is the key to his hold on our imagination? And why do the collected works of an Elizabethan writer continue to speak to us as if they were written yesterday?

Shakespearean is a rich, brilliant and superbly drawn portrait of an extraordinary artist, one of the greatest writers who ever lived. Through an enthralling narrative, ranging widely in time and space, McCrum seeks to understand Shakespeare within his historical context while also exploring the secrets of literary inspiration, and examining the nature of creativity itself. Witty and insightful, he makes a passionate and deeply personal case that Shakespeare's words and ideas are not just enduring in their relevance - they are nothing less than the eternal key to our shared humanity.
Imprint:   Picador
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 196mm,  Width: 130mm,  Spine: 26mm
Weight:   286g
ISBN:   9781509896981
ISBN 10:   1509896988
Pages:   400
Publication Date:  
Recommended Age:   From 18 years
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Robert McCrum was born and educated in Cambridge. For nearly twenty years he was editor-in-chief of the publishers Faber & Faber, until he suffered a severe stroke, the subject of his acclaimed memoir, My Year Off. From 1996 to 2009 he was literary editor of the Observer and associate editor until 2018. He is also the author of Every Third Thought; Wodehouse: A Life; six novels; and the co-author of the international bestseller The Story of English.

Reviews for Shakespearean: On Life & Language in Times of Disruption

Shakespearean is a remarkable book, an illuminating and personal journey that takes us to the heart of Shakespeare's art and influence. From his account of the plays' quintessential Englishness to his exploration of what he shrewdly terms their 'negligent ambiguity,' McCrum's insights are hard-earned and deeply rewarding -- James Shapiro I can't think of anything better than listening to Robert McCrum talk about Shakespeare. And this enchanting book is the next best thing - like a gentle chat with a genuine expert. -- Sir Simon Russell Beale Robert McCrum beautifully connects Shakespeare to ourselves in a way I've not come across before. I love his curiosity. He seems to live each day as if he's talked to Shakespeare on the phone that morning. So far, it's the best thing that has happened during lockdown.' -- Michael Grandage, Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, 2002-2012 Shakespearean is a brilliant, wise, elegant and profoundly moving book . . . Beautifully written, inspired and inspiring: a captivating portrait of Shakespeare and ourselves -- Joanna Kavenna, author of <i>The Ice Museum</i> If you ever had any doubts about the relevance of Shakespeare to the modern world, read this book! -- Henry Marsh, author of <i>Do No Harm</i> Wonderful and inexhaustibly fascinating -- Richard Eyre Wonderful . . . a beautiful personal testament to why Shakespeare continues to matter so much. It is crammed with original insights, and springs equally from a deep knowledge of Shakespeare's own world and a totally persuasive conviction that his plays speak to our own world, and our own selves, as cogently as they did to the Elizabethans. It is compulsively readable and I loved every page of it. -- Nicholas Hytner, theatre director Reading Shakespearean was a joy . . . by far the most accessible and erudite contemporary critique evoking with wit and profound insight that conscious (and subconscious) acknowledgement of the degrees to which Shakespeare's work continues to influence our cultural and political lives. It is also an essential entertaining book for anyone who like me shares a love of the great man's plays and sonnets. -- Don Boyd, film director McCrum writes brilliantly about writing . . . there is much here to stir the blood * The Times * Engaging and animated . . . McCrum guides us rather like someone walking through a gallery . . . McCrum's Shakespeare for times of disruption is a welcome participant in the contemporary conversation -- Rowan Williams, <i>New Statesman</i> 'Excellent . . . the winning combination of McCrum's own insights and sparkling language lifts Shakespearean to the must-read list . . . an ambitious and exhilarating ride * Daily Mail * A beguiling mix of memoir, literary criticism and biography * iNews *

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