From a review of Jonathan Bate's new Shakespeare book...
One could pleasurably read it as a collection of brief essays, in the freewheeling, interrogative sense of the word associated with the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, whose Essais were translated into richly flavoured prose by John Florio in 1603, and whose name crops up frequently in these pages because of his demonstrable influence on Shakespeare.
One of the benefits of this approach is that it permits a cheerful agnosticism where a more linear narrative would require a decisive act of faith. There are the 'lost years', for instance, of Shakespeare's mid-twenties – a period of unknown activity between 1585 (when his twins Hamnet and Judith were baptised in Stratford) and 1592 (when he is first recorded as an actor and dramatist in London). Was he a 'schoolmaster in the country', or a lawyer's clerk, or a fugitive from justice after a poaching incident on the estates of Sir Thomas Lucy – all of which were canvassed by early biographers? Or was he that mysterious player called Shakeshaft who is documented in a Catholic household in Lancashire?
Charles Nicholl on Jonathan Bate's new Shakespeare, ah, non-fiction.
Review of Nicholl's The Lodger here.
Review of reviewer's Shakespeare by...Jonathan Bate....
All's well that ends well.