Friday, July 29, 2022

Book Note: Shakespeare and Love: The Inside Story of the Crime that Stunned the Book World

Kelly, Mike. Shakespeare and Love: The Inside Story of the Crime that Stunned the Book World. London: Ashgrove, 2014.

Do you remember the interesting film Stealing Shakespeare, which tells the story of the theft and recovery of the Durham University First Folio (for which, q.v.)?

Shakespeare and Love tells you more—much more—about the case and about Raymond Scott, the man convicted of handling (though not of stealing) the stolen property.

Mike Kelly is a journalist who followed the story for a year and a half. Scott may have communicated more to and with him than he did to and with his own solicitors and barristers. 

The book gives a lot of information about that relationship. Indeed, it told me much more than I really wanted to know! But I'm glad the information is out there—including the semi-confessions Scott made to Kelly and subsequently retracted. 

In one anecdote, Scott implied that he might have gone into the library, broken into one of the cases, stolen some books, and exited. When he found that he wasn't challenged, he hid his horde in some bushes and went back and did the same with the First Folio. But later he told Kelly that it was all fairy stories.

If you're interested, it's worth looking into. As a sample, I've decided to give you the epilogue. It contains Scott's last communication with Kelly and an account of the sad end of his life.



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Thursday, July 28, 2022

Book Note: Three Books that—Let's be Honest—I'm Never Actually Going to Read

Taneja, Preti. We That Are Young. New York: Alfred A.Knopf, 2018.

Fortier, Anne. Juliet: A Novel. New York: Ballantine Books, 2010.

Brandreth, Benet. The Spy of Venice.  London: Twenty7 Books, 2016.

But, of course, that doesn't mean that you can't try them and even like them! 
I wanted to like these. But, for various reasons, I'm just not going to make it through any of them.
For one thing, they're all really thick! I mean, look at these—they're all clocking in at over 400 pages:
And then each one has something preventing me from getting very far into them. I was determined to love We That Are Young. I thought I could work it in to my Modern Shakespearean Fiction course . . . and then possibly into my Non-Western Contemporary Literature course. But the complications of an epic of this size was too daunting for me. But read the flyleaf—it might be just what you are looking for!

King Lear in India. But I couldn't make it.

Juliet is a time-travelling novel, jumping from the present day back to 1340s Siena. As near as I can make out, some sort of modern descendant of the Capulets needs to investigate the circumstances surrounding the story of the star-crossed Romeo and Giulietta. I'm not invested enough in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to explore this further. But here's the first page—maybe this is just right for you!

The Spy of Venice seems a bit more promising—it's more the sort of thing I would invest in. Shakespeare is on a spy mission in Venice. [Note: There's a second book in the series that I won't get around to reading either: The Assassin of Verona.] Yes, I might read that—except it has a three-page list of the main characters. I don't think I'll be able to make it. But you might! Here's the first chapter for you to try:

And there you have it! Three (or four) books you might like. Let me know what you think!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Book Note: Shakespeare's Dead: Stages of Death in Shakespeare's Playworlds

Palfrey, Simon, and Emma Smith. Shakespeare's Dead: Stages of Death in Shakespeare's Playworlds. Oxford: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, 2016.

Without the subtitle, the response to this book might be, "Well—yes.  Literally, yes.  Figuratively, not so much." But it's not a contraction: it's a possessive.

In other words, this is not a proclamation that Shakespeare is dead. Rather, it's a book about the dead of Shakespeare—or, really, ideas about death, dying, and the dead in Shakespeare's day.

Beautiful images complement a rich text that provides readings of death-related elements of the plays and explorations of Shakespeare's culture's ideas of death.

I also greatly appreciate the book's starting point. Where does one go to examine ideas of death in Shakespeare? The most famous Shakespeare quote of them all, right? In this case, no. We go to Measure for Measure to learn what Claudio and the Duke have to say about it.

I can't give you that whole chapter—it's too long—but I can give you a sampling of the writing and the images you'll encounter.


It's a great book—well worth a gander.

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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 2008-2039 (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