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The mountain of Shakespearean criticism is often more intimidating to students than Shakespeare's plays themselves. This volume attempts to address this problem with a single, accessible volume of criticism to the playwright's eight most popularly studied plays in secondary schools and undergraduate curriculums - Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, and The Merchant of Venice.
The latest work in the Gale family of collections of reprints of literary criticism is Shakespeare for Students, covering the plays most commonly read by high school students: As You Like It, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare for Students breaks with the traditional Gale criticism arrangement in order to meet the needs of the neophyte. Each play is introduced with a list of characters, a plot summary, and a brief discussion of principal topics and character studies. There are see references to Gale's larger work, Shakespearean Criticism. The critical excerpts are then arranged thematically, which will be helpful to high school students, who are often assigned a theme to discuss. Themes raised for As You Like It include pastoralism, disguise and role playing, and time. Each critical excerpt is prefaced with a brief explanation of its context and the critic's viewpoint. The original source of the excerpt is noted. Excerpts vary in length from slightly over a page to over eight pages. Each play's section closes with a bibliography of additional criticism and a selected list of video and film versions of the play. The profiles are enhanced with black-and-white illustrations, which are well chosen but a little dark. There is an index to major themes and characters. Shakespearean Criticism and Shakespeare for Students serve audiences at different levels of sophistication. Shakespearean Criticism offers a far more extensive sampling of criticism. Some plays have several hundred pages of criticism, while the student versions are all under 75 pages. In Shakespearean Criticism, critical excerpts are arranged chronologically with thematic access via the index. There is some overlap of criticism between the two titles, but the student version is not merely a condensation. The Chelsea House/Harold Bloom collections of criticism on the individual plays also don't overlap much either. Any high school or small public library needing introductory criticism on Shakespeare will want to seriously consider this reasonably priced collection. One final plus for the student version is that it is a one-time purchase, not an ongoing one. It will be particularly helpful where both space and money are at a premium. (Reviewed July 1992)
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-- A useful research tool that puts students in touch with a wide range of scholarship, allowing them to get their feet wet within a challenging, but manageable, format. This book should also be a handy study aid, providing quick access to the basics of the eight plays discussed. Critical essays share equal space with an overview of the play, an introduction of principle characters, plot synopsis, major topics, and character studies. Following the essays are an annotated bibliography and references to film and television productions. For those who have used other Gale literary criticism collections, the layout will be comfortably familiar. In fact, some of the material is distilled from their continuing multivolume Shakespearean Criticism . The editors' selections here concentrate on criticisms of this century and on the themes that might have the most appeal to students, such as ``Disguise and Role-Playing,'' ``Gender and Sex Roles,'' or ``Supernatural Elements.'' The predictable textbooklike appearance with relentless columns of text is broken up only occasionally by small, low-intensity black-and-white photos of productions or old drawings. But the layout is generous, with good wide margins and eye-easy substantial typeface, and the binding permits full opening for ease at the copy machine. This book was made to be used. --Sally Margolis, Deerfield Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
"Intended for beginning students of Shakespeare and for other interested readers," Scott's compilation presents information on eight of Shakespeare's most popular plays, including the principal 20th-century criticism on those individual plays. In contrast, Maurice Charney's How to Read Shakespeare (CH, Sep'72) guides the reader "how to read Shakespeare's plays creatively, without the usual academic barriers that have stood in the way of a direct understanding of the playwright"; and David M. Bergeron and G.U. Sousa's Shakespeare: A Study and Research Guide (2nd ed., 1987; 1st ed., CH, Apr'76) provides "an overview of the development and present state of Shakespeare scholarship." Each entry in Shakespeare for Students consists of three parts: first, an introduction to the play, a descriptive list of leading characters, a synopsis of the plot, an outline of the major themes, and character studies; second, critical overviews, prefaced by annotations and concluded with bibliographic citations, consisting of excerpts of major 20th-century criticism on the play, ranging from scene-by-scene studies and comment on distinctive features to analysis of significant thematic issues and studies of the principal characters; and third, sources for further studies. Special features include a brief chronology of Shakespeare's life and major works, "Some Research Perspectives for Students of Shakespeare," illustrations (performance photographs), and a comprehensive index to major themes and characters. A valuable addition to academic libraries at all levels, assuming it is used only as a supplementary aid and not as a substitute for reading the plays and the critical essays excerpted. P. Kujoory; University of the District of Columbia