What's so friendly about William Shakespeare? Haven't we all spent dutiful hours trying to make ourselves enjoy reading the Bard - with mixed results? The Friendly Shakespeare will change all that - it's a book that will delight anyone who ever shuddered at a soliloquy or nodded off the moment an actor said "doth." It's crammed full of solid but never simplistic information; it's intelligent without being overly intellectual, but with the depth to satisfy even those for whom reading Shakespeare is already a delight. The Friendly Shakespeare is written for people who think Shakespeare is, to quote Laurence Olivier, "not for the likes of them." It includes the major plays - histories, tragedies, comedies, and problem plays - but in between you'll find the real plot of Hamlet; raging controversies - like just who was Shakespeare - and was he actually Queen Elizabeth I? And who was the Dark Lady, anyway?; a look at Shakespeare on film - and a complete filmography; "the most insipid, ridiculous play I ever saw" (Samuel Pepys), and other quotes from Shakespeare haters (like Mark Twain and George Bernard Shaw); Shakespeare's ambiguous sexuality - or, was the Bard gay?; a half-dozen ways to say "Scram!" in Elizabethan English, and a glossary of Shakespearean invective; a look at the Elizabethan stage; practical advice from actors on how to read Shakespeare aloud and curious Shakespeareana about the numerous cranks and eccentrics drawn to Shakespeare throughout the ages. Designed to make reading Shakespeare a pleasure, every page of The Friendly Shakespeare is complemented by illustrations, photographs, and sidebars. With infectious enthusiasm and breezy erudition, Norrie Epstein has written a compulsively readable, slightly irreverent book that - at last! - makes Shakespeare not only accessible, but irresistible.
Written for those whose introduction to William Shakespeare was marred by an ineffectual high school English teacher, this sprightly guide to the life and work of the writer considered to be the foremost dramatist and poet of the Western world will delight fans as well as novices. With disarming humor and total lack of academic pretension, University of California lecturer Epstein decodes the language, plot and history of Shakespeare's major works, as well as the controversies that have surrounded his authorship and sexual identity. Drawing on interviews with actors, critics and Shakespearean experts, Epstein mixes interpretation and criticism with a wealth of detail about the Bard's life and the world of Elizabethan theater in which he worked. A browsing compendium that will educate and entertain students, teachers, actors and theatergoers. Illustrations not seen by PW. BOMC selection. (Jan.)