Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Shakespeare, Condell and Heminges

Typical Bryson – witty, erudite, entertaining and scholarly. I enjoyed it, but felt I was banking heavily on having been to the Globe and having seen Shakespeare in Love – neither of which, it turns out, are necessarily accurate, but both of which gave the story a visual reality. I don’t think I’d realised how little we really know about him. So if Bryson had stuck to biography it'd be rather thin: instead we have an insight into Elizabethan/Jacobean London, and captivating that was (though infortunately I don't think I will ever be able to forget the description of the entertainment supplied by the chimp, horse and dogs). I think this would become a key text at A level and for undergrads, so it’s a pity he didn’t reference it fully – this lack will make it difficult to use academically, which is a shame because his scholarship is brilliant.

But the most stunning thing is the debt we owe Condell and Heminges for gathering together the first folio. Without it, would we think or know any more of Shakespeare now than any other Jacobean playwright, or, put another way, which great (greater?) playwright do we know nothing of, simply because there’s no ‘first folio’?

Incidentally, my spell checker will only accept Shakespeare!

This may be the last you hear of me for a while as I've just started Anna K...