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Shakespeare's Reading (Oxford Shakespeare Topics) 1st Edition

2.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198711698
ISBN-10: 0198711697
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Offers a shrewd analysis of Elizabethan reading habits, and then turns to Shakespeare's work by genre."--Studies in English Literature 1500-1900


"The series editors--Peter Holland and Stanley Wells--should be congratulated for the overall quality of the contributions."--Studies in English Literature 1500-1900


About the Author

Robert S. Miola is Gerard Manley Hopkins Professor of English at Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Shakespeare Topics
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 26, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198711697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198711698
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.5 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jon Chambers on November 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
Robert Miola's Shakespeare's Reading was first published in 2000. It is showing its age. The first few pages are unfortunate in a number of respects. First, after having explained that Elizabethan culture was an oral one in which people read aloud and developed acute inner ears, he cites the eerie chant that begins Act IV of Macbeth ('Double, double, toil and trouble'). Unfortunately, these lines are now attributed to Thomas Middleton. Next, he discusses the sonnets, stating that they were 'probably composed in the 1590s'. Again, things have moved on, with scholars now believing that although many sonnets were written in this decade, others in the sequence were added in the Jabcobean period, during which the sequence as a whole was probably also revised.

These are minor quibbles, but worse is to follow. Summarising Elizabethan printing practices, Miola explains the difference between quarto and folio, and gives a page size for the large folio as 'measuring about 6 by 4 centimeters (15 by 10 inches).' Really? Ironically, he then outlines the task of a corrector, who checked printed sheets for errors, adding that publishers would routinely sell uncorrected sheets as well as corrected ones. (Whereas the OUP apparently publishes just the uncorrected.) Worse still, perhaps, we are invited to imagine the erotically-charged lines of 'Venus and Adonis' being 'spoken in the sexy female voice of your choice … Lauren Becall, Kathleen Turner, or Sharon Stone, for example.' While Miola believes that Shakespeare's reading was wide-ranging and skilful, it's clear he doesn't have much faith in his readerships's reading.

Not that Miola's study is without merit – far from it. As with other volumes in the series, his close readings of texts are often illuminating, and witty.
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Format: Paperback
Only those who want a regurgitation of the conventional wisdom will appreciate this incomplete account of Shakespeare's reading. Miola omits Shakespeare's reading of English chivalric romance, which staged a dramatic revival in his lifetime. Allusions and quotations in Shakespeare's plays suggest his still wider reading in this genre, deprecated by those like Miola, whose allegiance to modern fashion thus misdirects scholarly effort into this historical subject. Simply put, he has not done his homework; he has ignored the available scholarship which indicates the surviving manuscripts, printings, entries (for "copyright"), and adaptations of these romances.
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