“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.
Posts Categorized: Off-the-shelf
The Bard meets the MCU in Ian Doescher’s reworking of the four Avengers films as a Shakespearean play. Read an excerpt from the epic Battle of New York scene from the first Avengers film.
This excerpt from Leonard Barkan’s new book “Reading Shakespeare Reading Me” explores Bottom’s awakening and recollection of his enchantment as a donkey in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
In her new book “The Diva’s Gift to the Shakespearean Stage,” Pamela Allen Brown explores the considerable impact of Italian divas on Shakespeare and other English playwrights. This excerpt looks at the character of Juliet.
While doing research in the Folger collection, Dennis Duncan encountered hundreds of indexes created by early modern readers. In this excerpt from his newly published book, “Index, A History of the,” Duncan describes the fascinating variety of reader indexes he discovered, including one from an early 17th-century tract against alcohol.
As anyone who has read Shakespeare’s plays can attest, their content is not always very appropriate for children: brutal murders, bawdy jokes, incest, etc. Editions of Shakespeare’s plays that have been designed specifically for children often omit or smooth over things that parents might find objectionable. In the 19th century, access to Shakespeare was restricted not just for children but also for young women, as Molly Yarn explores in this excerpt from ‘Shakespeare’s Lady Editors’.
While working on “The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry that Forged the Medieval World,” Shelley Puhak stumbled across a connection between her subjects and Shakespeare. Her book is a dual biography of Brunhild and Fredegund, two queens who, as long-term regents for their underage male relatives, ruled over most of sixth-century Western Europe. Fredegund was born a slave; Brunhild was a Visigoth princess. Despite their vastly different backgrounds, they ended up as sisters-in-law and political rivals who negotiated with emperors and popes, revitalized cities, revamped tax policy, and conducted a decades-long civil war—against each other. Echoes of one conflict in that war, the 593 Battle of Droizy, have been preserved in Macbeth’s final act, when Birnam Wood arrives at Dunsinane.
Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe may not be as famous as his contemporary William Shakespeare, but his death at age 29 was far more dramatic — an argument over a bill that led to a stabbing, with the killer successfully pleading self-defense. But there’s something fishy about it all. Were the witnesses telling the truth? Did… Continue Reading »
Italy is the setting most associated with Shakespeare’s comedies, providing layers of dramatic potential that Kent Cartwright explores in an excerpt from Shakespeare and the Comedy of Enchantment. “‘Italy,’ as an imagined construct, contains heightened civility yet also volatility and danger; at its best it facilitates new possibilities for the self and for human relations,”… Continue Reading »
Picking up where Shakespeare’s King Lear ends, a new novel imagines the life of Lear’s wife, who in this telling has been banished for 15 years when she receives word of her family members’ deaths. Learwife by J.R. Thorp gives voice to a character who is notably absent from Shakespeare’s tragedy, which focuses on the… Continue Reading »