Saved in:
Preview

All things Shakespeare : an encyclopedia of Shakespeare's world /

Main Author: Olsen, Kirstin.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2002
Subjects:
Tags: Add Tag
No Tags, Be the first to tag this record!
Review by Choice Review

Despite its title, this is not an omnibus guide to Shakespeare. It neither explains the plays nor defines difficult terms; instead, it provides a helpful introduction to the culture, customs, and manners of England in Shakespeare's lifetime. Entries such as "Humors," "Courtship," "Household Objects," and "Drink" offer insights into contemporary practices and beliefs, drawing extensively on primary sources and referring to Shakespeare's works. Although some complementary material appears in Encyclopedia of the Renaissance, ed. by Paul F. Grendler (CH, Jun'00), All Things Shakespeare is unique in its tight focus on Shakespeare's England. Cultural analysis is by its nature a tricky area and subject to interpretation, but Olsen's entries are balanced and impartial. The entries "Women" and "Jews," for example, fairly present the prejudices of the time, but no other entries cover oppressed groups. Entries are supplemented by black-and-white illustrations from contemporary sources. An appendix provides a chronology of historical events that appear in Shakespeare's plays, and there is a well-selected bibliography. All Things Shakespeare offers excellent background material for students trying to place Shakespeare's works in historical context. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers and undergraduates. S. Magedanz California State University--San Bernardino

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Olsen has done the reference world a service by compiling a crackerjack guide to the Elizabethan milieu. In 207 entries she covers topics such as astrology, courtship and marriage, clothing, music, medical treatment, household objects, occupations, and coins of the era, with references to their representation in the plays. Entries vary in length from a few sentences for Pomander and Windmill to 16 pages for Food. Employing an abbreviation system (H8 V.v.l 31^-32 for Henry the Eighth, Act V, Scene 5, lines 31^-2), Olsen compresses into small space a wealth of data. Especially useful to students are lists such as 77 insults and their sources and meanings and a similar survey of 50 birds, 34 units of measure, and 18 types of coins. A generous assortment of line drawings and woodcuts illustrating, for example, a crossbow and arrows, bloodhound, sea monster, and coins, particularize references. A 12-page entry on place-names points out 200 European settings for Shakespeare's plays. Back matter provides a trove of information for the teacher, historian, or dramaturge, beginning with a chronology of historical events referred to in the plays. Following a bibliography separated by topic, the work concludes with a 47-page index covering such minutia as garters, harquebusier, marzipan, and typeface. The handbook has a few weaknesses. For example, there is no commentary related to the setting of The Tempest in Bermuda. Some illustrations lack detailed captioning and dates of sources, and too many name no source. Despite these omissions, students, teachers, librarians, actors, and readers will have little difficulty navigating the text to explain tidbits from Shakespeare's writings. Recommended for high-school, public, and undergraduate libraries.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

Unlike such standard Shakespeare references as Michael Dobson's The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, which focus on the works, this detailed and informative encyclopedia describes Shakespeare's physical environment, including common objects, daily activities, and popular beliefs and attitudes. Information is grouped into general topic clusters such as "Behavior," "Clothing and Dress," "Furniture," "Fire," and "War and Peace," and particular attention is paid to details of clothing, furniture, and the manufacture and use of such common products as beer, pewter, and books. Within the 200-plus entries, references are made to the play, act, and scene in which Shakespeare mentions the item or activity being discussed. Also included are subject and title indexes, a chronology of the historical events referred to in Shakespeare's plays, and a useful bibliography subdivided by topic. This work provides more detail than John F. Andrews's Shakespeare's World and Work: An Encyclopedia for Students, e.g., both references have entries on clothing, but Olsen's entry provides more details, and additional information is easily available through cross references to related entries such as "Doublet," "Fabric," "Gloves," "Hat," "Jewelry," "Ruff," and "Tawdry Lace." Recommended for all libraries.-Shana C. Fair, Ohio Univ. Lib., Zanesville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-A comfortably spacious format, clean typeface, and numerous simple drawings and reproductions, along with ease of use and accessibility of language, make this resource a pleasure to read. Romantic cover photographs of castles lead into the more than 200 alphabetically arranged entries that contain a treasure trove of details of the times along with frequent citations to passages in the Bard's work. Students can learn, in an entertaining manner, common military tactics, decadent fashion trends, the details of a eunuch's life, and the definition of "touchstone," all of which have parts to play in some of the most classic of all classic English literature. The set is not intended to be a complete concordance; exhaustive details concerning London theaters and the playwright's life are intentionally omitted since they are readily found elsewhere. Fully one quarter of the second volume is comprised of valuable appendixes: a chronology of events referred to in the plays, a substantial topical bibliography, and a fine index. This set will not replace standard works such as Shakespeare's England (Clarendon, 1950; o.p.), but most teens will find Olsen's rendering to be an irresistible peek into a world every bit as strange as that described in many a space fantasy. Even those who profess little familiarity with the great works of Shakespeare or the intricacies of English history will find these volumes fascinating.-Ann G. Brouse, Steele Memorial Library, Elmira, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.