Friday, September 15, 1995

Shakespeare: His Life, His Language, His Theater

by Samuel Schoenbaum

While a bit jumpily written and at times vague or awkward, this was a fascinating book.  Although relatively short, it contains a wealth of fascinating nuggets like the complete reversal of the meanings of some words ("deer," "girl," "let") since Shakespeare's time; a quick background on other dramtic works, like the mysteries, moralities, the work of Marlowe, Kyd and Greene; and many astute comments on and facts about the plays themselves.  I haven't thought about any of this material since my 12th-grade Shakespeare class and found it utterly absorbing.  The book had a good balance of background explanation and focused detail.  Also, it was quite readable, despite the stylistic murkiness; it didn't bog down in scholarly jargon, at least.

four stars

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