Brand : William Shakespeare

Othello and Cymbeline

Lance charnes |

An integral part of our shared literary heritage

One of the greatest works of theater ever penned, hamlet has transcended its time and become an integral part of our shared literary heritage. in an age that didn't brook indecision in a hero, shakespeare dared to make his prince of denmark an ambiguous, tortured soul -- a more modern protagonist than he could have known. his tale of deceit and revenge could, but for its language, be the fuel of any present-day crime novel. but the language! shakespeare's gift for turning a lasting phrase is legendary, but in hamlet he outdoes himself. people who have never read shakespeare know parts of his "to be or not to be..." solilioquy and can mangle long stretches of polonius' speeches as if they'd been written yesterday. perhaps only the bible is quoted more often and more widely than this play. as with any of shakespeare's works for the stage, hamlet begs to be seen or listened to, not read; unlike the sonnets, the plays can be heavy reading, and much of the joy lies in the music and rhythm of the words. however you consume this classic, you must if you have any regard for drama, literature or the english language.

B. wilfong |

The bickering pair

"much ado about nothing" is one of shakespeare's perennial crowd-pleasers and pops up in performance all the time in classical theatre companies. the reason is simple; it is a fun and witty play. it has some of the best verbal wordplay in all of shakespeare, and it boasts the only middle aged lovers in all of the bard's work, the lovely beatrice and benedick. this pair of former lovers bicker and snipe at each other with such intensity that the physical and emotional attraction is blatantly obvious form their first moment together on the page / stage. one of the reasons that i keep returning to "much ado" is because of how deftly shakespeare handles the leading characters' pride and reluctance to take the dangerous leap into love. it especially resonates in our times when more and more middle aged people find themselves divorced and single. how does one take that risk again, often under the same emotional circumstances as beatrice and benedick? when these two finally put aside their pride and open up to each other it is as touching and lovely a moment as any in shakespeare. once again as with so many of shakespeare's best comedies, the characterizations are key to the enjoyment of this text. bedsides the two leads we get the malaprop prone constable dogberry, who accidentally keeps the plot from becoming a tragedy, and the subtle characterization of don pedro the prince. there is more to this character than one gets at first glance, and the close reader will be rewarded by paying attention to don pedro's wooing of hero for his underling claudio. shakespeare adds in layers there that are interesting to ruminate on. as for the pelican shakespeare series, they are my favorite editions as the scholarly research is usually top notch and the editions themselves look good as an aesthetic unit. it looks and feels like a play and this compliments the text's contents admirably. the pelican series was recently reedited and has the latest scholarship on shakespeare and his time period. well priced and well worth it.

The fish |

Great for kids in high school

This book helps to simplify the art of julius ceasar into a much easier text for high schoolers to understand and make sense of the writings in the book.. great helper