Posts Categorized: Off-the-shelf

Excerpt – “Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne” by Katherine Rundell

“Spiritually speaking, many of us confronted with the thought of death perform the psychological equivalence of hiding in a box with our knees under our chin: Donne hunted death, battled it, killed it, saluted it, threw it parties.” Read more from Katherine Rundell in this excerpt from her new biography of the English poet John Donne, “Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne.”

Excerpt: “The Final Curtain: The Art of Dying on Stage” by Laurence Senelick

Shakespeare’s plays provide ample opportunity for dramatic deaths onstage, and 18th-century English actors like David Garrick transformed simple stage directions in the text into “stirring set-pieces,” as Laurence Senelick writes in the below excerpt from his new book, “The Final Curtain: The Art of Dying on Stage.”

Arthur Murphy’s 18th-century collection of humor – Excerpt: “Laughing Histories” by Joy Wiltenburg

“Murphy may be the first person in history to subject laughter to such intensive and extensive study, at least from the perspective of a laughter professional,” writes Joy Wiltenburg about the 18th-century writer’s 500-page compilation of humor, in this excerpt from her book, “Laughing Histories.” Murphy’s commonplace book is part of the Folger collection.

Excerpt – “Susanna Hall, Her Book” by Jennifer Falkner

In the opening scene of Jennifer Falkner’s novella “Susanna Hall, Her Book,” the queen of England has just arrived at New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon. But Susanna, the eldest daughter of William Shakespeare, has reasons for not wanting to host Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I.

Excerpt: Jonathan Bate’s preface to the RSC’s second edition of Shakespeare’s complete works

“To know Shakespeare thoroughly and read him well aloud, it was necessary to have a usable edition of his works, a text that did away with printer’s errors and the vagaries of old spelling and punctuation, that explained the more obscure words and allusions in the plays, and that was furnished with critical guidance as to the nature of Shakespeare’s genius,” writes Jonathan Bate (referring to the notable Shakespeare editor Samuel Johnson) in this excerpt from the preface to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s newly published second edition of the complete works of Shakespeare.