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Reading Shakespeare
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Table of Contents

Preface.- First Things.- Career in brief.- Authorship.- Play and page.-Printed Books.- Posthumous Publication.- The Recorded Life.- Stratford and Family.- Education.- Plays.- Shake-scene.- What kind of Scene?.- Immediate Predecessors.- First Plays.- Language.- Verse.- Dramatist.- Love's Labour's Lost.- Romeo and Juliet.- A Midsummer Night's Dream.- Histories.- Richard II.- Henry IV.- Henry V.- Comprehensiveness.- Versatilty.- The Merchant: Changing Contexts.- To the Globe.- Much Ado About Nothing.- Julius Caesar.- As You Like It.- Twelfth Night.- Shake-speare's Sonnets.- Horatio's Question: Hamlet.- Taken to Extremes.- Problem plays.- Measure for Measure.- Tragedies.- Othello.- King Lear.- Macbeth.- Antony and Cleopatra.- Late Romances.- The Winter's Tale.- The Tempest.- Retrospect.- His supposed point of view.- 'Read him therefore'.- Order of Composition.- Chronology of Publication.- Further Reading.- Abbreviations and References.- Notes.- Index.

Promotional Information

There are other good short introductions to Shakespeare, but few are as 'helpful' (Alexander's aim) and none packs so much - and with such elegance - into the space. Infinite riches in a little room.' - Times Literary Supplement 'In barely 160 pages, he provides wonderfully succinct introductions not only to more than half of Shakespeare's plays, but also to the Sonnets, the biography, and the theatre of his day ... Alexander is interested in the heart of the matter, not its fringes, and his book explores it with admirable insight and concision.' - Lukas Erne, Around the Globe 'A miracle of compression and readability, covering so much of Shakespeare so illuminatingly ... No other author of a comparable book brings quite the Alexander mix of gifts to the task of seeing Shakespeare whole.' - Ewan Fernie, Professor and Chair of Shakespeare Studies, The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, UK 'Reading Shakespeare almost always finds something new to say about this multi-faceted genius...Michael Alexander provokes thought throughout this fascinating little book.' - Alexander Lucie-Smith, The Tablet 'Alexander makes his reader - who is as likely to be a student as not - think about the relation of character and role, about what is "problematic" in a problem play or "historical" in a history, and about the different cadences of comedy and tragedy even within a single drama. Reading Shakespeare may be aimed at a campus market, but is likely to be appreciated by a passionate reader of the plays for whom familiarity has led to inattention but who is, as this wise commentator makes clear, a quite sufficient audience.' - Brian Morton, Glasgow Herald 'A concise, informed, and lively introduction to Shakespeare's life, times, theater, and plays.' - Richard McCoy, Professor of English at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA

About the Author

MICHAEL ALEXANDER is Emeritus Professor of English Literature, University of St Andrews, UK. He is a poet and translator and has international experience of teaching English literature, both medieval and modern. He is the author of Palgrave's bestselling A History of English Literature now in its second edition and his Penguin translations of Beowulf and other Old English poems have sold a million copies.

Reviews

'There are other good short introductions to Shakespeare, but few are as 'helpful' (Alexander's aim) and none packs so much - and with such elegance - into the space. Infinite riches in a little room.' - Times Literary Supplement 'In barely 160 pages, he provides wonderfully succinct introductions not only to more than half of Shakespeare's plays, but also to the Sonnets, the biography, and the theatre of his day ... Alexander is interested in the heart of the matter, not its fringes, and his book explores it with admirable insight and concision.' - Lukas Erne, Around the Globe 'A miracle of compression and readability, covering so much of Shakespeare so illuminatingly ... No other author of a comparable book brings quite the Alexander mix of gifts to the task of seeing Shakespeare whole.' - Ewan Fernie, Professor and Chair of Shakespeare Studies, The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, UK 'Reading Shakespeare almost always finds something new to say about this multi-faceted genius...Michael Alexander provokes thought throughout this fascinating little book.' - Alexander Lucie-Smith, The Tablet 'Alexander makes his reader - who is as likely to be a student as not - think about the relation of character and role, about what is "problematic" in a problem play or "historical" in a history, and about the different cadences of comedy and tragedy even within a single drama. Reading Shakespeare may be aimed at a campus market, but is likely to be appreciated by a passionate reader of the plays for whom familiarity has led to inattention but who is, as this wise commentator makes clear, a quite sufficient audience.' - Brian Morton, Glasgow Herald 'A concise, informed, and lively introduction to Shakespeare's life, times, theater, and plays.' - Richard McCoy, Professor of English at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA

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