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Shakespeare's Bawdy (Routledge Classics) [Paperback]

Stanley Wells , Eric Partridge
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 May 2001 0415254000 978-0415254007 4
This classic of Shakespeare scholarship begins with a masterly introductory essay analysing and exemplifying the various categories of sexual and non-sexual bawdy expressions and allusions in Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. The main body of the work consists of an alphabetical glossary of all words and phrases used in a sexual or scatological sense, with full explanations and cross-references.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 4 edition (18 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415254000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415254007
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 13.2 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 255,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'It reads as freshly today as it did fifty years ago, when it surprised everyone with its originality and daring, an intriguing blend of personal insight and solid detective-work. If ever a word-book deserved to be called a classic, it is this.' - David Crystal

From the Back Cover

'It reads as freshly today as it did fifty years ago, when it surprised everyone with its originality and daring, an intriguing blend of personal insight and solid detective-work. If ever a word-book deserved to be called a classic, it is this.' - David Crystal

'Shakespeare's Bawdy' must rank as one of the great Eric Partridge's most outstanding accomplishments. In it Partridge, regarded by Anthony Burgess as 'a human lexicographer, like Samuel Johnson', was able to combine his detailed knowledge of Shakespeare with his unrivalled knowledge of Elizabethan slang and innuendo. It is, as he describes it, 'a literary and psychological essay and a comprehensive glossary', which opened the window upon a long-avoided aspect of Shakespeare's plays. 'Shakespeare's Bawdy' is a work of delight and insight that has an appeal that transcends time and class. Acclaimed by Stanley Wells, editor of The Oxford Shakespeare, as 'a classic of Shakespeare scholarship', it takes its place alongside other classics with a well-deserved, if slightly cheeky, impunity. For sheer reading pleasure, Shakespeare's Bawdy is a wonderful addition to any bookshelf. Eric Partridge (1894-1979). Etymologist and lexicographer, best known for his lively and unconventional dictionaries which include A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English and Usage and Abusage.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I should not care to say that, during his life, Shakespeare was 'all things to all men', for that stock-phrase has, in certain circles, come to have une signification assez louche, but he does seem to have been 'most things to all decent men'. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars will's profanisaurus 27 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is lots of fun, both enlightening and amusing. Partridge finds innuendo in the most unlikely of places and you can't help laughing at his expansive etymological readings of terms such as 'prick'!

The book is split into two sections: the first being a brief series of essays on sexuality in Shakespeare, the second an expansive lexicon of 'bawdy' words in Shakespeare. It has to be said that although the book must have seemed provocatively liberal when it was first published, Partridge's staunch defence of Shakespeare against the charges of the 'homosexualists' seems a little fusty and unbelievable nowadays. Serious bard-heads will probably go for David Crystal's much broader study of Shakespearean lexis and Stanley Wells has just produced his own study of sex and love in Shakespeare (published April 2010). However, most readers should find this interesting addition the bookshelf.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The hidden Shakespeare 26 Feb 2009
Sent copies to friends who have told me how much they had been missing before reading this book .
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dirty deeds 19 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What can one say about this classic reference book? Full of innuendoes and also of course goes beyond Shakespeare and we see so much in Elizabethan plays that we might not be so aware of. Become a groundling and enjoy all these country matters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I wanted 16 Nov 2013
I was looking for a glossary of non-scatalogical oaths and curses. Another owner sent me a review which explained that the oaths and curses Partridge lists are all sexual in content, and that's not really desirable for Living History Interpretation. However, for anyone seriously interested in the etymology, this is apparently the "go-to" Book, despite the years since publication, no other Author has done anythingmore encyclopedic.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a classic of its kind, though showing its age 7 April 2001
By Joost Daalder - Published on
Modern well-annotated editions of Shakespeare (like those in the New Cambridge, Oxford, or Arden series) often explain bawdy usages in Shakespeare which today's reader cannot - yet should - understand. Even so, this area is still often comparatively weak in current commentaries, and this classic provides a great deal of help to the reader who wishes to know more. For a reader who does not use annotated editions at all, the glossary is yet more useful, though such a reader will often not even begin to think about instances of bawdy which would have been readily apparent and intelligible to an Elizabethan. Much does not get explained in Partridge: in that case a curious reader will often find the relevant exposition in Gordon Williams's *A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature*. However, as that is an expensive and difficult-to-use book, many readers would still serve themselves well by buying Partridge's guide. - Joost Daalder, Professor of English, Flinders University, South Australia
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We Got the Jokes! 20 April 2004
By A Customer - Published on
The head of our English Department in college was an expert on Shakespeare's bawdy. This was one of the books he had us read. When his classes attended a Shakespeare play, you could always spot us in the audience. We were the ones laughing at the dirty jokes!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare's Bawdy 26 Mar 2008
By Robert S. Powers - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Eric Partridge is always a fine scholar of words. His glossary of words that Will Shakespeare used, and what Will actually meant by those words, is fascinating. Understand Will better!

I do have another book about the same subject, titled "Naughty Shakespeare". The only thing that I noticed in the "Naughty..." book that Partridge didn't mention or maybe didn't know about, was that Shakespeare's street audience really understood what "Much Ado About Nothing" is *really* about. His street audience knew that men do carry "something" between their legs; but women carry "nothing" there. So there's your naughty lesson for the day about one of Will's most performed plays.

Sorry if that story is offensive to some people. But you probably wouldn't have read it if you were not intersted in Shakespeare's "Bawdy" :=))

Bob Powers
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 28 May 2011
By Lynwood Wilson - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Most of us cannot properly appreciate Shakespeare without a little help with the language. It's not so much that he uses words we don't know, although that is a problem, it's that he uses words we think we know to mean things we're not familiar with. "Shakespeare's Words" by Crystal and Crystal is a big help, but they leave out a lot of the naughty bits. Shakespeare's work is heavily salted with sexual puns and references. Don't miss the fun.

I also like "Filthy Shakespeare" by Kiernan.
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic guide to the "Dirty" Shakespeare 30 Jun 2014
By Anahuac Pete - Published on
As one reviewer stated earlier, this is a classic, but it's starting to show it's age. If you are looking for the "naughty bits" in Shakespeare this is the book to start with. Earthy language is nothing new but in the "Bard's time" it was more creative if not imaginative. On the other hand, if you are expecting modern slang and modern profanity, this is NOT the book for you.
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