Playing By Ear: Shakespeare in London

The only bright spot in a dreary day of schlepping through airports (thank you, Northwest Airlines, for all that quality time on the tarmac) was listening to podcasts of On Point with Tom Ashbrook. He interviewed Charles Nicholl, author of The Lodger Shakespeare: His Life on Silver Street. Here’s the blurb:

In 1909, an associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska was wading through legal documents in London when he came upon an incredible prize: a deposition, in long hand, about a messy family dispute, signed by one William Shakespeare more than 400 years ago.

It was the key to an era, and William Shakespeare’s place in it — Shakespeare at 40, a man of means, in the streets and gardens and pubs and brothels of London.

The genius was caught at a moment in time, after Hamlet, before Macbeth, living. Now, a new book makes it real.

Listening to someone like Nicholl, who can quote Shakespeare liberally on just about anything, was a welcome antidote to the rote instructions of gate agents and flight attendants. One quote from Timon of Athens, invoked to illustrate how the playwright appropriated material wherever he could get it, made me think that today, the Bard would be a blogger,

a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles

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