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Comment: Hardcover. Reprint. Full Title: The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare. Text body is free from previous owner annotation, underlining and highlighting. Binding firm. Dust jacket is creased and marked, with a couple of small tears. Edges slightly marked. Covers marked. Illustrated. Condition: Very Good Condition. Jacket Condition: Good. Size: 4to - over 9.75 - 12" tall. xxx + 541pp. Shipped Weight: 2-5 kilos. Category: Literature & Literary; Britain/UK; Renaissance 16thc to 17thc; Theatre & Plays. ISBN: 0198117353 BZDB243 Inventory No: 12185.
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The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare Hardcover – 20 Sep 2001

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; Reprint edition (20 Sept. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198117353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198117353
  • Product Dimensions: 26.9 x 3.8 x 21.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 480,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From Ariel and anti-theatrical polemic to Willow Song, Yorrick and Zeffirelli, The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare is a remarkably eclectic reference book. "Setobos is a deity or demon worshipped by Sycorax in The Tempest," runs one entry; "Lighting--Open air playhouses used available daylight supplemented by cresset-lights (oil-soaked rope burning in a metal basket) in the early evening," begins another. The writing style is commendably unpretentious.

Most of the 540 pages are given over to alphabetic listing of characters and locations in the plays, actors, directors, theatre managers and critics from the late 16th century until the present. Then there are, among other things, technical terms to do with the theatre or with language and names such as Wagner, Zoffany, Arnold, Marlowe, whose work connects in any way with Shakespeare. There is no index but the book opens with a detailed account of the plays' dramatis personae, themes and associated names; and it ends with maps, a Royal family tree to help you pick your way through the history plays and a timeline giving a chronology of Shakespeare's life and works (and their reception). There are also suggestions for further reading. Each play gets several pages at the appropriate point in the alphabetical arrangement. The commentary includes a synopsis, textual information and some facts on the play's sources, along with an account of its stage and critical history and artistic features. The section about published editions and criticism of each play is useful too. Apocryphal plays such as The Merry Devil of Edmonton are mentioned more briefly.

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare is an attractive book--with its A4 format, shiny paper and plenty of pictures--to browse through as well as use as a reference. --Susan Elkin


a book library commitees ought to want -- Times Literary Supplement, September 21, 2001

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Sept. 2001
Format: Hardcover
Beautifully designed and laid out, with hundreds of really good relevant and unusual pictures, this is a fabulous reference book -- jammed with information and ideas. It isn't just a bunch of academics prosing on as if for each other -- there's no jargon, and all the thousands of entries (which range from nicely set-out in-depth ones on individual plays to tiny little gems of fascinating trivia) are written to share a real enjoyment of the plays and the poems. Describes the world that made Shakespeare and the world that Shakespeare has made -- the pictures range from Elizabethan documents to modern adverts -- and there's amazing stuff about what Shakespeare's works have become in ballet and music and opera and film and in fiction. So it's much broader and more lively than its stuffy title suggests -- judge it by the brilliant colours of the jacket, not the imprint! A must for every bookshelf, but it won't stay still on a bookshelf for long -- the only encyclopaedia I own that would be a pleasure to read from A straight through to Z. You learn something you didn't expect to every time you open a's)... worth..(it) just for the full-page pin-up of a young Dorothy Tutin as Cressida. My Christmas present list is solved for this year -- and they'll be grateful, too. Fantastic for anyone even remotely interested in Shakespeare, whether as a student or a theatregoer or anything.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By the examiner on 6 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
I cannot rate this book highly enough. Every Shakespeare play is outlined Act by Act, Scene by Scene in a concise, easy-to-understand format that means I now cannot watch a Shakespeare play without this and a good version of the text in front of me. For that alone, this book is well worth buying.

There is a lot of other information in here, but - by its very nature - it does not go into as much detail as other studies. However, as it is co-edited by Stanley Wells, one of the leading contemporary Shakespeare scholars, it's all of a very high standard.

I'm sure I paid more for my copy than the current price (as of Jan 2010) - it now seems an absolute bargain. It is a big book, but then, it is on Shakespeare.

If you're studying Shakespeare's plays academically, or just for pleasure, this book is absolutely essential if you want to understand every line.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Bailey on 21 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
If you are a Shakespeare scholar or are looking for new analyses and critiques of the plays, you won't find them here. If you are an appreciator of the drama currently and formerly enacted based loosely or otherwise on the Bards work, then this is the book for you. It is approachable and demystifying of the plays, it goes into detail on the production histories and is intelligently illustrated. It is not the last word, what could be? It may be the first word you should read when examining Shakespearean drama.

In short, if you are a general consumer of drama and have an interest in getting to grips more effectively with Shakespeare this is the book for you. If you could lecture on the subject, I expect you will need to look elsewhere.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By William Zunder on 16 April 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (Oxford Companions)A strange mixture. The entries in this handbook range from the elementary to the world-historical, with the purely fatuous in between. So there is an entry on elision; one on Marxism; and one on lords that lists the appearances of lords as characters from the Taming of the Shrew to Cymbeline. Unfortunately, the entries also tend to be highly judgmental in an old-fashioned kind of way, and judgmental from a position of social and critical conservatism. The transformation of English studies by poststructuralist, feminist, and Marxist discourses as long ago as the 1980s is simply bypassed by the book which looks back to the late Victorian critic, A. C. Bradley, for its values. Nevertheless, there is useful information in it. The entries on the acting companies and on printing and publishing are exemplary; and the entry on Shakespeare's audience is helpful, though it dodges the question of the social composition of the audience and its class identity with the acting companies, something which explains the extraordinary popularity of Shakespeare in his own time but his location within elite culture today. Most people would probably find A Dictionary of Shakespeare by Stanley Wells (Oxford, 2005) more useful. It is handy to use, whereas the Companion is unwieldy. Its entries are brief, concise, factual, and contain practically all that is known about Shakespeare - which is actually not very much. It's the volume I usually find myself referring to.
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