Shakespeare’s Restless World by Neil MacGregor - review by Katherine Duncan-Jones

Katherine Duncan-Jones

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Shakespeare’s Restless World


Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 320pp £25

In A History of the World in 100 Objects (2010) Neil MacGregor invented a brilliant new way of engaging with ancient and remote cultures. His intense focus on a single object led to richly revelatory insights about it, as well as startling, lucid reconstructions of the much larger physical and human environment within which each object came into being. This approach was especially powerful on the radio (the book originated in broadcasts), a medium that effortlessly nudges the listener’s brain into doing a large part of the conceptual and imaginative work. 

Lavishly illustrated and beautifully designed, Shakespeare’s Restless World is even more ambitious in scope, but in practice rather less original. Here, MacGregor seeks to encompass both the range of Shakespeare’s imaginative world and the many physical environments, large and small, with which his writings can be connected. This is further

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