Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book Note: Essential Shakespeare: The Arden Guide to Text and Interpretation

Bickley, Pamela, and Jenny Stevens. Essential Shakespeare: The Arden Guide to Text and Interpretation. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.

This book would be a most excellent text and one that I might consider using in my upper-level Shakespeare course if it had been copyedited—or at least proofread.

The content of the book is quite marvelous, but the presentation leaves a great deal to be desired. The numerous typographical errors are incredibly distracting, particularly when the text of a Shakespeare play is being quoted. Please note that these aren't variant texts or variant spellings—they're typos, plain and simple. Many of them are the type of typo that results from using an OCR scan of a text without carefully proofreading it. But there are errors in the text of the book as well as in the material quoted in the text. I expect far more from a volume bearing the name of The Arden Shakespeare.

If you can get past the typographical errors, the book has much to recommend it. Fourteen plays are addressed, and each section provides an admirable sampling of food for thought. The section on Measure for Measure, for example, offers a wide range of ideas on the play, some of which I may be able to incorporate into my class the next time I teach the play.

Although written for students studying Shakespeare for the first time on a college level (and, therefore, both comprehensible and light-hearted), the volume does not condescend to its readers. Rather, it takes them a fair way on the road to greater depth of thought about Shakespeare's plays. For that, it's quite valuable (though I hope a second edition—one free from typos—will be forthcoming).

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1 comment:

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Everyone who wants, or is just beginning, to study English literature at university would benefit from this book.

Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2016 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest