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Mr. J. A. Edwards "josephaedwards" (nottingham, England)
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The RSC Shakespeare: The Complete Works
The RSC Shakespeare: The Complete Works
by William Shakespeare
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.59

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The right 'Shakespeare Complete Works' for the right person..., 27 May 2008
One of the features that is most attractive about this latest edition of Shakespeare's plays is its layout. The text is of a pleasantly large size, and glosses of the meanings of certain words is easy to access at the bottom of the page. The introductions are great - although in other editions there are more extensive and/or scholarly introductions to the plays, these are well written, and are still very readable if you are about to read the play for the first time. The style of writing is pleasantly unassuming in that respect. So for people reading Shakespeare for pleasure I would highly recommend this book.
However, at points in my degree I've slightly regretted my choice, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the paper, to allow the book to be not too thick whilst having text occurring in only one column per page, must be very thin. As a consequence of this it tends to wrinkle slightly if you put your fingers on it for too long. The Riverside Shakespeare solves this problem because it has text in two columns down the page, (it still has glosses of difficult words at the bottom of the page) and this allows the paper to be slightly thicker, and so you are not worried that you are going to tear it.
The text itself is pretty good, although it sometimes differs quite strongly from the Arden text. This is not a fault in itself, but as the Arden text is the major editing of our time, this can sometimes cause slight problems. Of course, if you're not doing a degree when you need to read literature about the texts then this will not apply to you. An example would be the play 'Hamlet', where the quarto text is a lot longer than the folio text, and this text sticks to the folio text. This is okay, but the Norton edition, I think, gets round this really well by putting the bits which are in the quarto but not in the folio, in their place but in italics. That is really useful.
Anyhow, unless your hoping to study shakespeare at a advanced level this text is fine. It is really beautifully presented, and easy to access.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 5, 2009 12:19 PM BST


The Buzan Study Skills Handbook: The Shortcut to Success in Your Studies with Mind Mapping, Speed Reading and Winning Memory Techniques (Mind Set)
The Buzan Study Skills Handbook: The Shortcut to Success in Your Studies with Mind Mapping, Speed Reading and Winning Memory Techniques (Mind Set)
by Tony Buzan
Edition: Paperback

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Universal Study Guide, 27 May 2008
One thing that really strikes me about this book is that it is useful and applicable wherever you are in your life, or education. It teaches principles that are useful to anyone that needs to remember anything - and makes them easily understandable. If you've wanted to know why it is that you can remember some, useless, things easily, but when it comes to dates of major battles (etc.) you're at a loss, then this book can help. It can also teach you how to turn those dates, facts, quotations or just about anything into things that stick in your memory. And the way it does it is not simply by showing a set of techniques (although the techniques such as "Mind Maps" some claim to have really helped their learning), but by giving you some guiding principles to show you how your mind selects and restores information. I haven't tried to put into place the technique of speed reading that occurs in the book - for my purposes reading slowly and carefully is useful. However, I think the book was worth it, even if just for the 'supercharge your memory' chapter alone.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 14, 2014 12:39 AM BST


How to Read a Poem
How to Read a Poem
by Terry Eagleton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.50

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine introduction to reading poetry for enjoyment or study., 27 May 2008
This review is from: How to Read a Poem (Paperback)
This book seems a sort of stepping stone for everyone who thinks that close reading is for the classroom, and that poetry analysed loses its beauty. As Eagleton shows, good poetry appears more beautiful when it is read carefully and sensitively, by a reader who has some prosodic apparatus for approaching a text. It makes a case for why we should learn to read poetry with an ear (and an eye) that is sensitive to poetic form, even if we don't have an essay to hand in at the end of the week, and gives us a demonstration of how to be sensitive to poetic form.

Eagleton starts his book with the idea that overemphasis on cultural theory has led to a decline in interest in the skill of reading sensitively and perceptively. I might be inclined to agree with him - extensive teaching of prosody and poetics etc is not regarded as being as important in academic circles as it was a few years ago. However, his point that an interest in cultural theory does not preclude an active interest in close reading and textual analysis is a fair one.
Eagleton sets out on a survey of the ideology and practicalities of poetry reading, with sections on 1) the function of criticism, 2) defining poetry, 3) ideas of the schools of formalism, 4) the relationship between form and content and 5) some of the issues involved with reading poetry (tone, mood, syntax, metre etc). The final section puts the theory into practice, and looks at four nature poems.

If the book is not extensive in terms of its covering the many aspects of poetry reading, neither is it limiting. At no point does Eagleton claim to give a exhaustive account of poetic techniques or the discipline of reading, rather the book functions as a demonstration of the benefit of informed close reading of poetry for pleasure or study. If you want a more extensive study of prosody, and poetics etc, then a dictionary of poetics like the 'New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics' would probably be more up your street.


Renaissance Literature: An Anthology (Blackwell Anthologies)
Renaissance Literature: An Anthology (Blackwell Anthologies)
by Michael Payne
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect companion or introduction to the period!, 27 May 2008
I used this book during my degree course, and it came in use no end. It has a large selection of texts, both recognised classics and less familiar ones. A particularly useful aspect is that it has both poetic and prose works that are interesting for their literary value and also a number of texts whose historical value is very high, although of course all the texts have both historical and literary value.
There is a good chunk of Spenser, which is enough to introduce you to him, (although to study further a more annotated version would be helpful), and helpings of the other main poets like Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, Jonson, Marlowe, Donne and Herbert. It is also interesting to find poems from monarchs and prominent courtiers thrown in there as well, which give a sense that most of the people reading the poetry of Sidney, and other poets who circulated their writings in the courts in manuscript form, also wrote it!
The prose is also strong, including excerpts from translations of the bible and other texts, colonial literature, political writings, and a snippet of Walton's 'The Compleat Angler'.
For me a really exciting aspect was a number of anonymous ballads, and carols, which show that there was artistic activity happening not only in the courts and mansions, but also in the folk tradition of the people who had to work for a living.
It has come in handy for revising for exams, searching for interesting texts to use in my essays, and getting a sense of the period as a whole. Finally, it has saved me a great deal of money!


Milton: Paradise Lost (Longman Annotated English Poets)
Milton: Paradise Lost (Longman Annotated English Poets)
by John Milton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.17

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good way in to one of the greats of the English Language, 27 May 2008
Why read Milton?
There are many reasons why Milton is informative and enjoyable to readers today. Firstly, his poetry is brilliant. It is terse, but elegant, invested with a mighty power - try reading it out loud to get the full impact. Secondly, his theological views are interesting and thought provoking - the question 'how can man have free will when his fate is predetermined?' is one which I found myself pondering as I read 'Paradise Lost' (although my religious beliefs are completely different to Milton's, to say the least). Thirdly, it is very important in the history of English poetry, and the English language. Considering the poem was first published in 1667, one of the most startling aspects of the work is just how modern it feels - the syntax and grammar are both clear and concise in a way that few works of the time were; in terms of its language 'Paradise Lost' was very influential. I hope I have given a few good reasons why it is both enjoyable and positive to read 'Paradise Lost'.

Why read this edition?
Longman Annotated Editions are the place to go for many of the great English poets, with great editions of both 'Paradise Lost' by Milton and 'The Faerie Queene' by Spenser. The reason I give this edition five stars is that with Milton, like so many other Renaissance poets, unless you are very familiar with Milton's theodicy, it is hard to guage just how complex and detailed a text it is on your first reading. Fowler's notes give a thorough account of the references, both classical and biblical, that come up in the poem. An alternative option would be to read a lengthy introduction or guide first, but in my opinion, the best tactic is to get an edition like this, which supports the reader, and get straight into the text itself. This is the definitive edition of one of the best epic poems in the English tradition.


The Pantomime Book: The Only Known Collection of Pantomime Jokes and Sketches in Captivity
The Pantomime Book: The Only Known Collection of Pantomime Jokes and Sketches in Captivity
by Paul Harris
Edition: Paperback

3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A valiant attempt, but a contradiction in terms., 7 Jan. 2006
As soon as I read the first few sections of this book, I realised that what the author is trying to do, record pantomime humour in a book, is actually impossible. The routines offered lie dead on the page, not even raising a snigger as you read them. I know that this is not how the gags are supposed to be appreciated, but the thing that actually makes them funny is ENTIRELY LOST in the process of writing them down, the skill of Pantomime being in improvisation, and slapstick acting - the scenes and gags that the author describes are not especially clever or worth including in a pantomime that you might be writing. More worthwhile would have been a book on the art of pantomime acting, or on slapstick acting. If you are putting on a pantomime then no book, and especially not this one, is going to make you funny. The people acting the pantomime need to be the people deciding on how they are going to make people laugh. If you want to learn how to act traditional pantomime gags and routines, then pull your finger out and go and see as many pantomimes as possible. I can see few people who would really benefit from owning this book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 23, 2009 11:45 AM BST


City And Eastern Songs
City And Eastern Songs
Price: £6.16

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why its not my favourite Jeffery Lewis album..., 7 Jan. 2006
This review is from: City And Eastern Songs (Audio CD)
This album comes as a collaboration between Jeffery and Jack Lewis, brothers from the antifolk scene in new york. Its Jeffery's third widely available album; and the production of the album is musically superior to its predecessors. However, it seems to lack the humour that the other two Jeff Lewis albums have, the raw simple joy of the punk songs like 'Man with the Golden arm' [from 'The last time I did acid I went insane...'] or the fascinating honesty of the folksongs like 'Back when I was four' [from 'The ones who've cracked...']. The album does have brilliant moments, like the song 'Don't be upset' but lacks the consistency of the first album, the excitement of the second album, or the brilliant wit of the little available Jack Lewis stuff. Having said that, it is a very enjoyable listen, reflecting truly one of the best live performances in indie rock at the moment.


The Complete Collection
The Complete Collection
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a foot note, 7 Jan. 2006
This review is from: The Complete Collection (Audio CD)
Add Dylan to the list of people intensely influenced by Johnson. He said in his auto biography that he heard Johnson's lyrics and it just blew his mind; it is easy to see why. Johnson seems to have acted as a watershed for blues singers, he increases the vocabulary and poetic licence that blues singers can express themselves with, he made it possible for the blues to grow into the profound art form it undoubtably is. His tragically limited [in quantity] recordings, all present on this album, are a major milestone, not just for blues music, but all of western music, from rock to hip hop.


1990
1990
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £17.95

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not his best;, 7 Jan. 2006
This review is from: 1990 (Audio CD)
The album starts kind of slowly, but picks up by 'Held the Hand' and the sinister 'don't play cards with satan', revealing a gothic streak in Johnston's songwriting; for me, the climax of the album is at the brilliantly simple but intensely moving 'True Love will find you in the end' which portrays in the most adept way a man torn between his unending belief in the power of love and his growing sense of despair in what love has offered him. The song just jumps out at you as soon as Johnston's voice can be heard. Not his most acessible album to date, with most of the songs being piano and vocals, some being guitar and vocals. However for any Daniel Johnston fan this charts a fascinating period in his songwriting. [It is worth buying the album just for 'True Love will find you in the end' and the ironically seemingly cheerful 'Funeral Home'] Not the best album to choose if its your first experience of Daniel Johnston, though.


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