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Filthy Shakespeare: Shakespeare's Most Outrageous Sexual Puns Paperback – October 7, 2008

4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's a universal truth: sex sells. Giving the audience what they wanted in the 16th century, however, meant veiling it with puns, bon mots, slang and other tricks; fortunately, Shakespeare scholar Kiernan (Shakespeare's Theory of Drama) has taken the mystery out of the Bard's deceptively graphic passages in these frank translations from some of his most popular plays. Because most students read whitewashed versions (or because most high school instructors don't want to go there), even fans may be unaware of the degree to which, for instance, Iago (Shakespeare's "filthiest-minded character") employs sexually loaded language to rouse Roderigo's murderous lust in Act 5 of Othello: "Quick, quick, fear nothing... and fix most firm thy resolution" seems innocuous enough until Kiernan reveals that "nothing" means "vagina" and "resolution" means "balls." These blush-inducing transcripts render Shakespeare's work instantly contemporaneous; as it turns out, just the title of Much Ado About Nothing is easily as vulgar as anything uttered by gross-out moviemakers the Ferrelly brothers. Divided into chapters on lesbianiasm, homosexuality, virginity, sexual diseases, impotency, whores, pimps, brothels and other topics that shall here remain nameless, this jaw-dropping, giggle-inducing text proves both the Bard's enduring relevance and the fact that today's popular entertainment isn't nearly as debased as some might think.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“This jaw-dropping, giggle-inducing text proved both the Bard’s enduring relevance and the fact that today’s most popular entertainment isn’t nearly as debased as some might think.”
Publishers Weekly

“A romp of a read.”
Associated Press --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Avery; Reprint edition (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592404014
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592404018
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr Pauline Kiernan is a distinguished Shakespeare scholar, commissioned screenwriter and award-winning playwright. Pauline holds a doctorate from the Univeristy of Oxford where she taught English Literature for many years.
Visit her websites:
General:
http://www.paulinekiernan.com
Screenplays Website:
http://www.pauline-kiernan.com
Her best-selling FILTHY SHAKESPEARE: SHAKESPEARE'S MOST OUTRAGEOUS SEXUAL PUNS is now available as an Ebook.
She is also the author of the best-selling SCREENWRITING THEY CAN'T RESIST. HOW TO CREATE SCREENPLAYS OF ORIGINALITY AND CINEMATIC POWER. EXPLODE THE RULES. It offers a radically new and provocative approach for screenwriters who want to create outstanding screenplays that have a real chance of being developed.

Also: Screenwriting They Can't Resist: EMOTIONAL PULL FOR CHARACTER

POWER UP YOUR SCREENWRITING DIALOGUE WORKOUTS

POWER UP YOUR SCREENWRITING STRUCTURE WORKOUTS

And she has also published a beautiful Ebook SHAKESPEARE and LOVE:
Words from THE GREATEST LOVERS IN LITERATURE.

Pauline is also the author of the acclaimed SHAKESPEARE'S THEORY OF DRAMA and STAGING SHAKESPEARE AT THE NEW GLOBE,

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By CB on November 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The great strength of Filthy Shakespeare is that is has been written by a Shakespeare scholar who is also a dramatist. Dr. Kiernan shows that Shakespeare often used sexual puns as a serious dramatic device for important issues such as morality, politics, and war. Some of the best parts of the book are where she demonstrates how Shakespeare used sexual puns to intensify the the dramatic impact of the scene. The introduction which describes the social and political world of the playwright is excellent. This is an important book. It will be appreciated not just by playgoers and readers of the plays but by all Shakespeare actors and directors.
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Format: Paperback
God what a hot mess this book was. You can tell by the way this was edited that there was absolutely zero intention for this to ever a. be anything other than an impulse buy and b. be read from cover to cover. Sometimes the same information WORD FOR WORD is repeated in chapters. For example - bits and pieces from the introduction were copy pasted to the blurbs at the end of any given chapter. That's just lazy with a capital L if you ask me. I think the intention here was to write a book where people would open to the table of contents, browse until they found their vice of choice, then read that chapter and never pick up the book again until they were cleaning out their book shelves.

In addition to the incredibly annoying repetitious bits, some of the research and conjectures Kiernan makes about certain slang is questionable to say the least, and at times doesn't seem to be supported when context is added back into the equation. And while I certainly agree with her that there are many sexual innuendos that frequently get overlooked or edited out of certain Shakespearean productions, to simply go back and say "screw it - let's just call shenanigan's on all of it" isn't good either.

Over all I feel like this would be a good book for those who enjoy compilations of unusual trivia, or for people who are having a hard time getting into Shakespeare and would like some ideas for new approaches to his texts to get them interested again. For anybody looking for something approaching good editing, solid research and quality reading material pass on.
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Format: Hardcover
When you go to see a Shakespearean play, you will often see a staid, rather dignified production, performed by serious and stuffy actors. However, if you could travel back in time to the turn of the seventeenth century, you would find the theatre located in a notorious red light district, with the audience filled with drunk and semi-drunk yahoos. You would see the audience roaring with laughter, nudging each other as actors spouted off various lines. What did they see that we don't?

Well, the fact is that Shakespeare's plays are filled with sexual puns, innuendoes and plays-on-words that the contemporary audiences got, but whose meanings have generally become lost. In this wonderful book, author and historian of the Bard on Avon, Dr Pauline Kiernan, goes through all of the little dirty jokes, giving the original Elizabethan passage, and then translating them into modern English.

Now, as you might expect from an Oxford educated professor, she does use English slang words instead of American words, but you will have no problem discerning the meanings from the context. I found this to be a very interesting and enlightening book. Who knew just how wicked old William actually was! If you want to see Shakespeare from a different angle than the one you were taught in school, then get this book!

(Review of Filthy Shakespeare: Shakespeare's Most Outrageous Sexual Puns)
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Format: Kindle Edition
Shakespeare wrote a lot of very dirty puns, but the ones I find in this book always seem like a stretch and make little sense in the context of the play. He takes incredibly dramatic moments, tense moments no experienced playwright would ever spoil with a joke, and turns those famous lines into nothing but potty humor. I expect filth to be hiding all over the comedic moments of the plays, but these over-the-top translations helped me find very few of those. In very few places did I find useful interpretations. The pages on Hamlet skip over the obvious ("Lady, shall I lie in your lap?") and fight to force other parts into the Filthy Shakespeare mold.

I also don't like how it's organized, having to flip to the index to track down all of the sections about one particular play. It's not really useful in that way. It's clearly meant for a casual reader with no serious intent.
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By bgarfink on January 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a way cool book.

Yes, it's a bit over the top, but it's also an introduction to the subject, and it doesn't pretend to be comprehensive, either.

Dr. Freud would have had a field day in Shakespeare's London. As did Shakespeare. I never dreamed there were so many layers of meaning in Shakespeare's texts. I knew about a few of these examples, but I never realized quite how explicit some of the sonnets were. In fact, this book would have helped me write my document [dissertation, only shorter], only I didn't discover it until I was done.

Way to go, Dr. Kiernan!
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Format: Paperback
This book appears to be well-researched and accurate if you've never read any of these plays. Some of the puns are obvious enough, but Kiernan really goes over the top on the rest(mostly taking passages out if context), even going so far as to suggest that Iago and Roderigo have a homosexual relationship. The book is self-consciously vulgar, attempting to surprise rather than to inform. Sure, Shakespeare had an incredibly filthy mind, but it seems that Kiernan has one far filthier.
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