Infant, Schoolboy, Lover, Soldier, Justice, Pantaloon, and Oblivion: “Soul of the Age” by Jonathan Bate
There are devotees of Wagner, Madre Teresa, and Cristiano Ronaldo; my fate has been Shakespeare.
“I like to think that Shakespeare would have adopted a similar procedure if he had been commissioned to write his own biography,” says Bate. Uhm…Really? Narcissism on Bate’s part? Maybe only someone with Bate’s background would be able to tackle a project of this magnitude. The “seven ages” approach allows Bate to make absorbing inferences about Shakespeare’s life, motives, and work, while being cognizant of the speculative nature of his endeavour.
This was one of the books that slipped through my fingers when it came out in 2009.
What did I love the most about Bate’s book? His ability to go on tangents, but not going too far off topic. His inclination to ramble needs to be balanced with editing, basically. His tendency is to go way too far … He loves the Proustian, circling sentence. But that’s this ability that makes it a joy to read him when it comes to writing about Shakespeare. One gets so immersed in this way of writing that sometimes it’s difficult to come out of it to breathe…His writing is not about soundbites, like much of writing about Shakespeare. Bate’s was able to throw light into the extraordinary effect that Shakespeare’s works have had on us and on other creative artists down the ages.
The rest of this review can be found elsewhere.