Robert McCrum, "Shakespearean: On Life and Language in Times of Disruption" (Simon and Schuster, 2021)

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When inspiration struck Robert McCrum to write a book about the Bard, it came while watching one of the playwright’s plays in Central Park, New York. Here, McCrum realized that we, today, are undoubtedly living in Shakespearean times. Joe Krulder, a British Historian, interviews Robert about his latest book, Shakespearean: On Life and Language in Times of Disruption (Pegasus Books, 2021)

Current events such as the Covid-19 Pandemic, the election and then four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, and this twenty-first-century obsession with conspiracy theories, mirror London’s many plagues from 1592 to 1603, Shakespeare’s Caesar and Richard III, and of course our post-modern social media outlets are simply riddled with conspiracies. Shakespearean, indeed.

What Shakespearean: On Life and Language in Times of Disruption accomplishes is to place the reader in William Shakespeare’s London. There is danger at Bishops Gate, the neighborhood the Bard chose to reside in; danger appeared both from below and above. Sword fights, punch ups, and stabbings demarcate a rough “from below” existence while political intrigues from the execution of the Earl of Essex to the Gun Powder Plot of 1605 imperilled all of London’s theatre productions if not William Shakespeare himself.

Robert McCrum is the author of dozens of works, fiction as well as non-fiction, plus he’s an Emmy Award-winning documentarian. A long-time editor for Faber and Faber and The Observer, McCrum career continues on despite a stroke. His recovery gave him time to read and Shakespeare, once again, filled his gaze.

Joe Krulder is the author of The Execution of Admiral John Byng as a Microhistory of Eighteenth-Century Britain (Routledge 2021) teaching college History in Northern California. Joe earned his doctorate at the University of Bristol in West England.

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