Cover image for Essential Shakespeare handbook
Title:
Essential Shakespeare handbook
Author:
Dunton-Downer, Leslie.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : DK Pub., [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
480 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780789493330
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Offering a user-friendly, beautifully illustrated guide to every play in the Shakespeare canon, as well as a portrait of the Bard's life and the world of Elizabethan and Jacobean theater, the Essential Shakespeare Handbook is an innovative and entertaining book which unravels the complexities of Shakespeare's plays and poems. Written in a clear and engaging style, this book will enrich the experience of the Bard's work on the page, stage, and screen.


Author Notes

Leslie Dunton-Downer, a fellow and lecturer at her alma mater, Harvard, is a founding member of the Cambridge Riverside Players, and has produced community readings of Shakespeare's plays. Her published works have earned her a Sheldon Fellowship, two Rockefeller Foundation Awards, and the International Orpheus Award.

Alan Riding is the European Cultural Correspondent for The New York Times based in Paris. He has covered countless Shakespearean performances, films, ballets, and operas.


Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

The first in a projected series of cultural guides, this handbook is packed with standard information about Shakespeare. The first 45 pages include a biography and overviews of Shakespeare's era, Elizabethan and Jacobean theater, the author's canon of works, and a very introductory discussion of Shakespeare's use of language and meter. The plays are subdivided by genre and presented chronologically by date of composition; overviews are then provided for each genre. Information on each play includes its literary or historical antecedents, a list and brief description of characters, a summary of action in each act, a one-page discussion of how to approach reading or seeing the play, and a description of the play's cultural influence. Bar graphs provide additional statistics such as length of play, size of acts, and percent of prose to verse. A chapter is included on Shakespeare's poetry. The distinguishing characteristic of this handbook is its emphasis on graphic images and pictures, which compose about a third of the content. Authors Dunton-Downer, cofounder of the Cambridge Riverside Players, and Riding, European cultural correspondent for the New York Times, are deliberately nonacademic in their approach, aiming to break down barriers for the average theater attendee. Recommend for public libraries.-Shana C. Fair, Ohio Univ. Lib., Zanesville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Organized according to the categories of plays and including a section on his nondramatic poetry, this is an excellent basic tool for gaining insight into the Bard's poetic genius. Each of the categories-histories, comedies, tragedies, and romances-commences with a well-written essay that explains the nature of the genre (and the place of Shakespeare's works within it) and discusses the themes and ideas that lay behind the poet's words. A more in-depth analysis of each play follows: a look at the sources that inspired it, an act-by-act plot outline (with relevant quotes), an annotated list of the dramatis personae, ideas to ponder when reading/seeing the play, and, finally, a discussion of issues associated with the play and/or its productions. Each treatment is liberally peppered with informative sidebars, as well as with clear, color photos of relevant people and places. For the poems, similarly organized information is offered. A number of useful discussions help put the pieces into their full literary context. A biography of the playwright, an essay on Elizabethan society and the theater it spawned, a discussion of the overall canon, and an explanation of Shakespeare's language and poetic meters round out the text. This volume is not meant to take the place of more comprehensive reference works, such as Michael Dobson and Stanley Wells's The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (Oxford, 2001), but it is an informative, visually enticing introduction to the world's most famous dramatist.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.