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The Greenwood companion to Shakespeare : a comprehensive guide for students /

Other Authors: Rosenblum, Joseph.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2005
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Review by Choice Review

Including no texts (except 35 sonnets) and intended as "a guide to the perplexed," this set offers background essays on Renaissance literary culture and on biographical, theatrical, and linguistic matters. In the general introduction (v. 1), Rosenblum (Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro) deals with authorship controversies with firmness, tact, and a touch of humor. The volumes are arranged according to genre (histories, tragedies, comedies, and romances and poetry). They provide extensive essays on plays, sonnets, and narrative poems and include scene-by-scene summaries, sources, sketches of the major characters, surveys of themes and critical controversies, and a stage/film production history (with one b/w photograph); a highly selective (uneven) annotated bibliography follows each essay. The 41 contributors range from emeritus/a professors to a doctoral candidate, with specialties ranging from English Renaissance culture and language to Native American fiction to film. The essays and bibliographies reflect the research interests and the generation of the scholars. The "Critical Controversies" sections are valuable but generally conservative and cautious, describing but not engaging controversies and avoiding volatile issues. The concluding bibliography (v. 4) is extensive and useful, though it includes mostly classic books and few sources from 2000 onward. Those who teach undergraduate Shakespeare courses should familiarize themselves with these volumes, which may tempt beginning students with misappropriation. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Lower-/upper-division undergraduates; general readers. F. E. Hildahl SUNY Oswego

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

This new set is aimed at high-school and college students in need of clear introductory-level outlines of Shakespeare's major works. The 77 essays, written by 40 different scholars and occasionally accompanied by black-and-white photographs, range anywhere from 2,500 words to 26,000 (the King Lear0 entry). The four volumes are arranged by genre: volume 1 features the history plays ( Richard III; Henry IV, Parts 1, 2, and 30 ) and overview essays on Shakespeare's era, text, theater, life, and language. Volume 2 has the comedies ( A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Taming of the Shrew0 ); volume 3, the tragedies ( Hamlet, Othello0 ); and volume 4, the romances ( The Winter's Tale, The Tempest0 ) and poetry (33 individual sonnets and 5 longer poems). All entries conclude with an annotated bibliography. The entries on individual plays contain a plot summary and an analysis of major themes, characters, passages, and devices. In addition, the play's historical context, production history, and structure are considered. There is also a discussion of critical history and controversies. Sonnet entries are briefer and offer a paraphrase of the sonnet and a discussion of devices, themes, and the sonnet's relationship to other Shakespeare works. Each entry concludes with a bibliography identifying accessible resources for further study. Additional reader aids include an annotated list of Web resources, a selected bibliography, a subject index, a key-passages index, an alphabetical list of plays and poems, and a Shakespeare chronology. This set is very useful for the student or general reader and stands out in a surprisingly uncrowded market. Although there is no shortage of criticism on Shakespeare's major works aimed at students, such as A Companion to Shakespeare's Works0 (Blackwell, 2003) or Gale's Shakespearean Criticism series, a basic plot outline and simple analysis can be difficult to find. Befuddled students trying to translate the Bard's antiquated terminology often need some guidance, and this set provides just such assistance. Mining similar territory are the single-topic, more detailed Cliffs Notes series or the less-extensive Masterplots series (Salem). Highly recommended for all high-school, college, and public libraries. --Susan Gardner Copyright 2005 Booklist

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

This set fully accomplishes its stated goal to demystify Shakespeare for students and general readers so that they can get past the unfamiliarity of his language and find the pleasure and genius in his works. Each of the set's four volumes relates to a specific genre-Overviews and the History Plays (Vol. 1), The Comedies (Vol. 2), The Tragedies (Vol. 3), and The Romances and Poetry (Vol. 4)-and is organized in "Cliff Notes" fashion, devoting each entry to a single play, long poem, sonnet, or sonnet pair. Written by literature scholars in a clear and concise manner that does not oversimplify the challenges and ambiguities in the texts, the entries range in length from 2500 words (individual sonnets) to 26,000 words (e.g., King Lear), making them shorter than typical "Cliff Notes" titles but far more comprehensive than those found in such literature surveys as Salem's Masterplots. Each play entry comprises a scene-by-scene plot summary, publication history, sources, structure and plotting, main characters, literary devices and techniques, themes and meanings, critical controversies, production history, and explication of key passages. The selected sonnets and long poems receive similarly detailed treatment. Volume 1 also contains a series of introductions that provide the reader with a sense of what it was like to live in Shakespeare's era, covering politics, culture, and spoken language. Bottom Line This is the first multivolume work since Gale's Shakespeare for Students (1992) to target students (both high school and college level) and general readers. An appendix of Shakespeare resources on the web and subject indexing give it added reference value. A great introduction to the Bard.-Nadine Cohen-Baker, Student Learning Ctr., Univ. of Georgia, Athens (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 9 Up-This extremely well done set lives up to its subtitle. The volumes are organized by genre beginning with âÇ£Overviews and the History Plays.âÇ  The essays in that volume offer information on Shakespeare's life, the age and culture in which he lived, the Elizabethan and Jacobean theater, the texts and publication histories of the plays, and the English language of the era. These pieces are followed by detailed articles about the history plays. The comedies and the tragedies are discussed in volumes 2 and 3, respectively. The final volume includes articles on the romances, the sonnets, and the Bard's longer poems. The individually authored play entries each include a plot summary, publication history, sources, structure and plotting, main characters, devices and techniques, themes and meanings, critical controversies, production history (including black-and-white photographs of scenes from famous productions), and an explication of key passages. The scholarship is impressive and up-to-date and the writing is clear and accessible. Additional illustrations include average-quality black-and-white photos of sites and reproductions. This set is more comprehensive than Shakespeare for Students (Gale, 2000) and would be an excellent addition to any collection.-Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

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