Friday, January 11, 2013

Bluffing Shakespeare

So for Christmas this year I got "The Shakespeare Handbook : The Bard in Brief" because the catch phrase "The essential bluffer's guide" caught my attention.  People are always looking to get me Shakespeare things, so I told my wife to show this to the kids and then wrap it and give it to me. :)

The book takes an in depth look at individual scenes from the plays.  Specifically 50 scenes from less than 40 plays, which means some get doubles.
(First thought -- 37, actually. Noble Kinsmen left out, as is Double Falsehood / Cardenio).

It's a very nice book, well made.  Hardcover, big (8.5"x11" sort of big).  Each play is accompanied by pictures, such as Elizabeth Taylor's Kate, or Al Pacino's Merchant.  Each play comes with a summary of what it's about, why Shakespeare wrote it (context, if nothing else), and then sidebars and insets describing little trivia tidbits like what "gleek" might have meant.

I've only just started flipping through it, but I thought it would be fun to look at what scenes the author felt were crucial to the 'essential bluffer'.   Does Midsummer, for example, have the final play-within-a-play?  Puck's "If we shadows have offended?"  Oberon's "I know a bank where the wild thyme grows?"  Decisions, decisions.  Let's see, shall we?

Two! Two scenes.  Act II Scene i right off the bat, with Oberon's "I know a bank..." quote highlighted on the section cover.  And......(flip flip flip).....Act III, Scene i, the translation of Bottom into an ass.

I like it.  There's lots of content to read through, and I don't have time at the moment to truly dig into every individual decision the author made, but I hope to periodically pick and choose a section for us to discuss.

Until then ... name a play, try to guess what scene or scenes he included, and I'll let you know in the comments!  Hamlet's an easy one.  Who wants to guess what scene is included from M4M, or maybe Pericles?

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