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Shakespeare: For All Time (Oxford Shakespeare) Hardcover – January 2, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Shakespeare
  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (January 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195160932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195160932
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 1.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One of the Shakespeare industry's most industrious scholars presents the bard's life and times, the composition and (competitive) editing of his works, the "afterlife" of his reputation and his characters' lives presented onstage. The volume combines the format of a well-illustrated coffee-table book with a distillation of scholarship for the average bardolater, if not necessarily the casual student and theatergoer. Although Wells's biographic summary is solid for all its speculative digressions and his literary criticism sound if conservative, this work hits its stride when it gets onstage, from the first performances on the recently unearthed Rose Theater to the modern productions on the newly reconstructed Globe. High points of this performance history include David Garrick's 18th-century Shakespeare franchise, Edmund Kean's scandalous precurtain rituals and Sarah Bernhardt's Hamlet, as well as such lows as Nahum Tate's popular alternate happy ending to King Lear and Shakespeare's literal bowdlerization by Thomas and Henrietta Bowdler. For modern productions, Wells's wide-ranging survey is often charged with his own experience as a theatergoer, such as seeing Olivier's "searing" Coriolanus. With contemporary scholarship, Wells gets entertainingly personal, whether describing his firsthand experience (idiosyncratically) editing the complete works for Oxford University Press's own Shakespeare department or tweaking rival A.L. Rowse for inaccuracy. There will naturally be dissension about Wells's opinions and selectivity-for instance, his assessment of Orson Welles's stagings and filmings or the extent of the Nazi regime's deplorable Shakespeare cult-but this copiously illustrated album admirably compresses more than four centuries of the bard and more than 50 years of Wells's devotion to him.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review


"Here is a man who has a fair claim to be the most complete Shakespearian of them all.... Now he has distilled a lifetime's work into one crisply written, richly illustrated and entertaining book."--The Sunday Times


"Scholarly, urbane, rich in anecdotes and marvelously readable, it is a meticulously constructed and authoritative survey with a vast and satisfying scope."--New Statesman


"The doyen of modern British Shakespeare scholarship.... Few will deny that he has an indisputable right to produce yet another book on Shakespeare whenever he feels like it.... His subject calls for, and gets, abundant, handsome, and instructive illustration. The book is therefore something of a hybrid, the biography amiable, the afterlife placidly illuminating and useful."--Frank Kermode, The New York Times Book Review


"This copiously illustrated album admirably compresses more than four centuries of the bard and more than 50 years of Wells's devotion to him."--Publishers Weekly


"Written with generosity and humor, Wells's book is an illustrated compendium encompassing new readings of the Bard's Stratford-upon-Avon and London years, thoughtful observations of Shakespeare the writer and a lively history of the Shakespeare legend.... Wells navigates through Shakespeare's afterlife with wit and authority. Whether dealing with his legacy in the fields of the visual arts, music, cinema, theatre or television, the book celebrates all Shakespearean manifestations, their imperfections notwithstanding. The result is that Wells brings us as close to an understanding of the man, the writer and the legend, as is possible in a one-volume study."--American Theatre


"Wells is deservedly the most celebrated Shakespearean scholar of our time.... It is not often you meet a scholar with a sense of humor, but Wells made me laugh out loud at his section which concerns the discrepancies of the various Shakespeare printed text.... Many anecdotes make the richly illustrated text a delight."--Birmingham Post


"One of those heavy, beautifully produced books which is a pleasure to look at as it is to read.... There's no doubting the scholarship here"--Time Out London



More About the Author

Stanley Wells, described by Roy Hattersley as "Our greatest authority on Shakespeare's life and work," is Chairman of the Trustees of Shakespeare's Birthplace, Emeritus Professor of Shakespeare Studies of the University of Birmingham, and Honorary Emeritus Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. He is the author and editor of many books including The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works, 2nd Edition (OUP 2005); The Oxford Dictionary of Shakespeare (OUP, 2003); and Shakespeare in the Theatre (OUP, 1997).

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Above all, this book goes down easily.
Judith C. Kinney
Many thanks to Mr. Wells for sharing his vast erudition with us - and those wonderful illustrations!
Suzanne Cross
Highly recommended as a companion volume is Prof.
Brian J. Willis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gunther on September 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Stanley Wells' latest book combines two genres: Biography (Shakespeare), and History of Theatre (Shakespeare). It is a history of Shakespeare from his time to ours, including Shakespeare's life and subsequent theatrical performance, but excluding critical analysis and interpretation of the plays.

The first 100 pages present a minimalist biography of the great playwright - "minimalist" in the sense that Wells sticks close to the (relatively few) facts that are known, or can be judiciously inferred, about Shakespeare's life, avoiding any temptation to pad out or speculate where the facts will not stretch. I found this approach to be refreshing and useful; it clarified for me what is actually known about Shakespeare's life, versus what has been inferred (or imagined) in other biographies.
The remainder of the book deals with the history of Shakespeare in performance, from the playright's time down to the present day, both in England and (in less detail) abroad. The history of the original texts of the plays, their theatrical revisions (or mutilations), the theatres, producers, actors, and critical and popular responses (including Hollywood) are discussed. Given the potentially unlimited scope of this topic, Wells' treatment is brief, selective, and to the point (for example, Joseph Papp's seminal New York "Shakespeare in the Park" is given one sentence in the book.)
To summarize, Wells has, a bit unusually, combined a brief but thoughtful biography of Shakespeare, with an introductory history of Shakespeare in performance. It's a fluently written and engaging overview, and as such, I think that many Shakespeare aficionados, as well as students of the history of theatre, will want to have it.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Judith C. Kinney on August 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a physically beautiful volume. It's an oversize book printed on thick, glossy paper. It's filled with illustrations, both works of art and photographs, from Shakespeare's time to our own.
It's also packed with solid information that's easy to digest. Wells tells everything that's known about Shakespeare's life and speculates on additional possibilities. All that could have made a book by itself, but it's only about a third of this volume.
He also goes on to tell about the writing of the plays and their staging through the centuries. Something I've not seen elsewhere in one volume is a discussion of the many famous actors who've played the major Shakespearean roles.
Above all, this book goes down easily. It's perfectly easy to understand. There is no deep and esoteric Freudian, feminist, postmodern whatever discussion of individual plays or characters.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Brian J. Willis on May 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ever wanted to read one book to know about the life of Shakespeare and the life of his plays? This is the only book you need. The world's preeminent Shakespearean scholar at long last presents his knowledgable views on Shakespeare's life and how the different ages, including ours, have appropriated Shakespeare for their own. The first 100 pages are straight-up biography, and a spot-on one at that, providing all of the facts that we know and wise, cautious speculation about what we don't. The following 300 pages illustrate how Shakespeare wrote what he did, and how each age has seen and transformed Shakespeare. Most impressive is that each chapter explores theatrical developments alongside textual and editorial innovations. Not ignored is Shakespeare's representations in visual art, music, and opera. A most impressive volume that is written in an easy to understand style. Any person could pick up this book and understand the history of Shakespeare for all time. Highly recommended as a companion volume is Prof. Wells's earlier exploration -Shakespeare: The Poet and his Plays. That volume discusses each individual play and the poems on an interpretative level, and a highly insightful level at that.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Shakespeare For All Time by Stanley Wells (Emeritus Professor of Shakespeare Studies, University of Birmingham, and General Editor of the Oxford Shakespeare series) is an inherently fascinating and extensively informative biography and analysis of the life and work William Shakespeare, piecing together all that is known and much that is speculated about one of the greatest playwrights who ever lived. Illustrated with both black-and-white and color plates, and written in down-to-earth terms for all students and enthusiasts of Shakespeare's work (regardless of their level of familiarity with the plays themselves), Shakespeare For All Time is an excellent read and an especially recommended addition for personal, academic, and community library systems for offering informed and invaluable insights into the man and his plays.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Cross on June 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been reading books on Shakespeare, his plays, and his theatrical history, for a very long time, and this book impressed me all to pieces for its scholarship, its marvelous overview of the man and his works, and the thorough grounding it provides for one of the great artists in Western history in a wonderful historical period. I don't agree with everything Wells writes, but his scholarship is so thorough and his arguments so concise, that I must at least listen. His history of the centuries of Shakespearian performances is also a delight, as we watch centuries where audiences and actors tried to force Shakespeare into the molds of current fashion, to the 20th century when he was finally allowed to be taken as read - with wonderful results. I have performed and seen Shakespeare for 40 years and we live in a golden age of his onstage art.

What particularly fascinated me in the book, which is beautifully illustrated, is a picture of the famous poet Sir John Suckling, by Van Dyck, painted about 20 years after Shakespeare's death. Sir John chose to be immortalized holding the First Folio volume on his knee, showing that Shakespeare's reputation was, even so early as the 1630's, well established in poetry and theater. Whereas his contemporaries dropped out of fashion pretty quickly, our Will never did.

Although this covers much the same ground as Samuel Schoenbaum's great works, I found much new to ponder and enjoy. Many thanks to Mr. Wells for sharing his vast erudition with us - and those wonderful illustrations!
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