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"Is a sharp wit match’d with too blunt a will;
Whose edge hath power to cut, whose will still wills
It should none spare that come within his power."
-- WILLiam Shakespeare, Love's Labor's Lost, Act II, 1
I'll probably read and review several books on Shakespeare, etc., this year as I'm digesting the First Folio. Currently, I'm also reviewing Bloom's Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, play-by-play, and jumping in and out of the Norton Shakespeare -- but typically I wait to see what Bloom and Greenblatt say AFTER I've read the play first and written my review. Bloom is one of those academic critics for me that I have to be careful to not let graze in rivers above where I drink.
This book is exactly what I would hope all the VSI (Oxford's Very Short Introductions) would BE (and yes, I realized this ISN'T a VSI). It covers lightly the major ground and leaves you wanting more, but seems to also understand it is meant to only be a general introduction to the time, the man (Shakespeare), and his craft (plays and poems). Because it checks in at less than 200 pages, it isn't going to get very deep into any of these, but the writing is crisp, interesting, and compelling. There are just enough hidden jewels too, to leave the advanced amateur (not saying I am, not saying I'm not) from being bored with an introduction that simply relates all the old stories and old interpretations. It isn't perfect, but it dares to be very good.
One final note. The audio version says at the beginning and end this was a Teen or Young Adult (I could probably go check and see which) book. Um, it is an introduction, but I'm not sure I'd categorize it as young adult or teen.
Anyway, I'm off to bed to dream of moors, whores & money lenders.
11 of 17 people found this review helpful
I love Shakespeare but sometimes the plays seem harsh and very non-PC. In an age where people paid to see dogs tear a live bear to shreds the works of Shakespeare seems much kinder. The Age of Shakespeare delves into a time that seems at once distant and familiar.
It's very entertaining and informative.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful