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.