- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0470658517
- ISBN-13: 978-0470658512
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,522,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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30 Great Myths about Shakespeare 1st Edition
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"Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith's 30 Great Myths About Shakespeare is a thought-provoking myth-buster ... It entertains the reader with new material and detective-like connections ... A huge amount of research, work and selection lies behind this book, and it pays off. Not just students, but every academic should take note." (Times Literary Supplement, 29 November 2013)
"Lively, enjoyable and sensible throughout." (London Review of Books, 5 December 2013)
"The myth that Macbeth is jinxed in the theatre, is, says Maguire, a 'self-fulfilling prophecy based on a hoax.' And so it is, and delightfully so, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why." (Irish Examiner, 5 June 2013).
"This is a good book by trustworthy Shakespeareans ... The individual myths, structured into moderate-length essays (thus you do not have to read them in order), can be excellent for discussions in the classroom or lecture-room. Though the book obviously targets readership already into Shakespeare, every novice will enjoy finding satisfactory answers to the myths they are bothered with." (Huffington Post, 24 April 2013)
"The value of this little book lies in its ceaseless exploration." (Times Higher Education, 7 March 2013)
"Even if you know Shakespeare well, this delightful book will offer thought-provoking new angles." (The Scotsman, 2 March 2013)
"A book that manages the rare feat of exercising scholarly caution...while still providing a highly entertaining portrait of the man himself." (Sunday Times, 24 February 2013)
“Learned and enjoyable (that rarest of combinations), 30 Great Myths is a brilliant exploration of the truth behind popular assumptions about Shakespeare. Some of these myths turn out to be true, some false and some impossible to be decisive about. But these mini-essays are always at once fascinating, provoking and fun.”—Peter Holland, University of Notre Dame
“This is a fresh, learned, thoughtful and generous-spirited review of the more-or-less received ideas we so often invoke when we talk about Shakespeare. Written with wit and verve by two outstanding experts in the field, it will entertain and inform experienced readers and playgoers as well as those approaching the plays and poems for the first time.”—Russell Jackson, University of Birmingham
“30 Great Myths About Shakespeare is superb. Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith have written an incisive, witty, and open-minded book, one that uses popular myths as a point of entry into the profound and vexing questions raised by Shakespeare’s art. Scholars, actors, and general readers will find themselves in their debt.”—James Shapiro, Columbia University
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* how John Florio's 1603 translation of Montagne's essays widened Shakespeare's vocabulary;
* or find it fascinating that acting companies bought costumes from servants who inherited them from their aristocratic masters (but were legally prohibited from wearing them, because the law specified the kinds of clothing people of each social class could wear);
* or find it a revelation that there is actually a reason why Shakespeare gave Bohemia a seacoast in Twelfth Night;
* or would like to entertain the possibility that Shakespeare was neither Protestant nor Catholic but atheist ("Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow ...")
* or did not know that the proscenium stage, which differed from Shakespeare's thrust stage, was something brought back to London by aristocrats exiled in Paris during the English civil war;
* or discovered that one of the most beautiful lines in Shakespeare: "Golden lads and girls all must / like chimney sweepers come to dust" does not refer to little boys who sweep chimneys, but to a dandelion flower (a dandelion was called a "chimney-sweeper" in Shakespeare's rural dialect);
* or was unaware that just as Shakespeare's Globe was built away from the jurisdiction of the London Puritans, Hollywood was built close to Mexico so filmmakers could flee American puritans if necessary;
* or that the mention in Twelfth Night of a specific hotel was perhaps an early example of a "product placement":
* or that the belief that performances of Macbeth were jinxed is due to a hoax perpetrated by Max Beerbohm in 1898, and only exposed in 2001;
* that the reason there is no Queen Lear, Duchess Prospero, Frederick or Senior may have to do with a lack of boy actors to play all the female roles;
--then then this is the book for you.
I particularly liked a discussion of films of Shakespeare's plays, how they differ from dramatic performances and why. I noted the ones I had not seen and went to Netflix, Amazon and the public library to get them.
There is also material about different approaches to the stage versions of the plays. This book is worth reading if for nothing else than the deadpan quotation from satirical reviews of Peter O'Toole's 1980 production of Macbeth. These will bring tears of laughter to your eyes.
These essays are immensely learned, well-written and fascinating. They cull information from the vast Shakespeare literature and package it in small essays. The idea that they are meant to refute "myths" is a hook to hang the essays from. This will cause no harm unless the cute title makes someone think that these essays are lightweight, which they are not.
The bibliography led me to order certain other books on Shakespeare which I have not read yet.
Apparently, one publication on Shakespeare appears every hour. When it comes to Shakespeare, it is difficult to know which books to read, but my advice is to give preference to this book.
Mythology in its widest measure comprising malicious fabrication to educated speculation that has gained a patina of concrete verity through constant repetition that generally debunk Baldy Bill as the Sweet Swan of Avon.
Well, someone had to do it (again) notwithstanding that the daftest of people and actors - most of whom are horribly unqualified to offer opinion - are normally best denied the oxygen of publicity they get from constant battering at and undermining of their crazy theories by the cleansing poison of fact.
But it's a thankless task only justified by the adage that all that evil needs to succeed is that good (wo)men do nothing.
Maguire and Smith (folk of Oxford)do veer towards a tour d'horizon of those stories about the Bard weel kent by those who take the trouble to widely read about the topic and by those who don't. It's an honourable task competently and entertainingly executed. It won't change anything but there's the comfort of revisiting all those winter tales and rough magic you've heard before. But why only thirty? Reason not the need.