What Blest Genius?
In September 1769, three thousand people descended on Stratford-upon-Avon to celebrate the artistic legacy of the town’s most famous son, William Shakespeare. Attendees included the rich and powerful, the fashionable and the curious, eligible ladies and fortune hunters, and a horde of journalists and profiteers. For three days, they paraded through garlanded streets, listened to songs and oratorios, and enjoyed masked balls. It was a unique cultural moment—a coronation elevating Shakespeare to the throne of genius.Except it was a disaster. The poorly planned Jubilee imposed an army of Londoners on a backwater hamlet peopled by hostile and superstitious locals, unable and unwilling to meet their demands. Even nature refused to behave. Rain fell in sheets, flooding tents and dampening fireworks, and threatening to wash the whole town away.Told from the dual perspectives of David Garrick, who masterminded the Jubilee, and James Boswell, who attended it, What Blest Genius? is rich with humor, gossip, and theatrical intrigue. Recounting the absurd and chaotic glory of those three days in September, Andrew McConnell Stott illuminates the circumstances in which William Shakespeare became a transcendent global icon.

What Blest Genius? Details

TitleWhat Blest Genius?
Author
ReleaseApr 2nd, 2019
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
ISBN-139780393248654
Rating
GenreHistory, Biography, Nonfiction

What Blest Genius? Review

  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    I was provided an Advanced Review copy of this by the publishers via Edelweiss+. I really enjoyed the book and would gladly add it to my Shakespeare shelf!This is a focused and approachable work of history. It looks at the Shakespeare Jubilee in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1769, and reads like the behind the scenes story of Woodstock. The author centers the story around a few key players, giving it a strong narrative thread and human interest. The first half of the book looks at the events that lead I was provided an Advanced Review copy of this by the publishers via Edelweiss+. I really enjoyed the book and would gladly add it to my Shakespeare shelf!This is a focused and approachable work of history. It looks at the Shakespeare Jubilee in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1769, and reads like the behind the scenes story of Woodstock. The author centers the story around a few key players, giving it a strong narrative thread and human interest. The first half of the book looks at the events that lead to the jubilee, and the second half takes the reader through the event itself.There’s an absurd truth to the idea that part of being interested in Shakespeare is being interested in the other people through time who’ve been interested in Shakespeare. Beyond telling the story of the event itself, the book looks at the culture of idolization and commodification of the Bard. The fervor that the event whips people into, along with the setbacks and minor disasters of the Jubilee, is just fun to read.I’m a sucker for historical logistics, and the author’s attention to detail, from the traffic jams to the sleeping arrangements, brings the realities of the event to life without feeling sensationalized. He doesn’t just talk about the weather, but how the weather effected every aspect of the day. The level of detail is handled well, elevating the story instead of bogging it down. The narrative retains its momentum, keeping the reader interested in what next setback is around the corner.This is a great, light, Shakespeare read. It’s a unique look at Shakespeare history from a different perspective, and a good addition to any fan’s shelf.
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