822. Books on English drama
While looking up award-winning and recommended books on English drama, I was surprised and dismayed to discover the only ones honored were on Shakespeare. While Shakespeare’s phenomenal, he is far from being the only British playwright of note. Please research others to get a full spectrum of notable British dramatic works.
Harold Bloom Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, 1998.
Harold Bloom writes commentary on every play by William Shakespeare. He uses his entire life of reading, teaching, and writing about the plays to inform his views. And he reaches the startling conclusion that Shakespeare is responsible for how humans view themselves today.
Ron Rosenbaum Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups, 2006.
Once you grasp what is known about Shakespeare, it would be good to delve into the thoughts of the scholars, directors, and actors who struggle to understand him. Going for a deep dive well beneath the surface of what the plays mean, these people are obsessed with finding the real influences on Shakespeare and uncovering information about him that has been lost.
James Shapiro Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future, 2020.
James Shapiro looks at how Americans have used Shakespeare’s works as a symbol and guide. People on both sides of the political divide claim Shakespeare as their own, and Shapiro provides examples of this throughout time. For example, Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth were both obsessed with Shakespeare’s plays. He ends the book with the 2017 Central Park performance in which a Trump-like figure was the assassination victim in Julius Caesar.
Bill Bryson Shakespeare: The World as a Stage, 2008.
Bill Bryson applies his research and writing skills to untangle the skein of myth and fact surrounding the life of William Shakespeare. Using his trademark wit, Bryson reveals the Bard as no one else has.
For more information on the Further Reading series: please see Further Reading: Start Here.