Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

by Stephen Greenblatt

Paperback(Anniversary Edition)

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The Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, reissued with a new afterword for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

A young man from a small provincial town moves to London in the late 1580s and, in a remarkably short time, becomes the greatest playwright not of his age alone but of all time. How is an achievement of this magnitude to be explained? Stephen Greenblatt brings us down to earth to see, hear, and feel how an acutely sensitive and talented boy, surrounded by the rich tapestry of Elizabethan life, could have become the world’s greatest playwright.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393352603
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/04/2016
Edition description: Anniversary Edition
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 110,755
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Stephen Greenblatt (Ph.D. Yale) is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. Also General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, he is the author of eleven books, including Tyrant, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve: The Story that Created Us, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (winner of the 2011 National Book Award and the 2012 Pulitzer Prize); Shakespeare's Freedom; Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare; Hamlet in Purgatory; Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World; Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture; and Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare. He has edited seven collections of criticism, including Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto, and is a founding coeditor of the journal Representations. His honors include the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize, for both Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England and The Swerve, the Sapegno Prize, the Distinguished Humanist Award from the Mellon Foundation, the Wilbur Cross Medal from the Yale University Graduate School, the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, the Erasmus Institute Prize, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of California, Berkeley. He was president of the Modern Language Association of America and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


Cambridge, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

November 7, 1943

Place of Birth:

Cambridge, Massachusetts


B.A., Yale University, 1964; B.A., Cambridge University, 1966; Ph.D., Yale University, 1969

Table of Contents

Preface 11

Acknowledgments 15

A Note to the Reader 17

Chapter 1 Primal Scenes 23

Chapter 2 The Dream of Restoration 54

Chapter 3 The Great Fear 87

Chapter 4 Wooing, Wedding, and Repenting 118

Chapter 5 Crossing the Bridge 149

Chapter 6 Life in the Suburbs 175

Chapter 7 Shakescene 199

Chapter 8 Master-Mistress 226

Chapter 9 Laughter at the Scaffold 256

Chapter 10 Speaking with the Dead 288

Chapter 11 Bewitching the King 323

Chapter 12 The Triumph of the Everyday 356

Afterword 391

Bibliographical Notes 399

Index 417

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