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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
This is basically a dictionary of Shakespeare. It is well laid out, easy to use and informative. It gives definitions for all the words you may come across in the text which you are struggling with. It also gives meanings to words which have changed over the years and which we might read differently to a contemporary of Shakespeare.

You might think that you don't need this because if you have a good copy of the play text it will give you a glossary with it. I have however recently been studying Taming of the Shrew, using a highly recommended play text, and not all the words were included in the glossary. I also found that as words are often quite nebulous it was interesting to look them up both in the play glossary and Crystal's book because they sometimes differ slightly and enrich my understanding.

There are several other useful features of this book. Each definition offers examples from the plays in which they are used, which can be great for comparison purposes, even if the play quoted is not the one you are reading. There are also mini lessons on certain styles of speaking contemporary with the time, and a potted history of each play.

This is not an inexpensive book, it is however, what I would class as an invaluable book for those serious about understanding Shakespeare and wanting to get the most out of his language.
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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2005
This book is like having your old English teacher at your side to comment on words you have difficulties with. - For any word in Shakespeare it gives the possible different meeanings and quotes the play(s) in which the word is used.
The book has lots of other useful features including a complete list of all characters' names, explanations of the references to classical mythology, geographical locations and 6* go to the synopses of each play with the diagrams of the characters.
It is a perfect companion for any Shakespeare lover.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Professor David Crystal and Ben Crystal have carved THE Shakespeare Bible! A glossary which outshines in its meticulous trimness, neatness and accuracy. In a profoundly responsible manner, the authors carefully gloss each and every word in Shakespearean English which may arouse miscomprehension or ambiguity of context. All the polysemantic words are neatly cited with clear references to the particular contexts. So, the great merit of this enormous enterprise is that it does not impersonally state the word meanings in Shakespeare - but displays an extremely accurate context-centered approach to studying Shakespearean lexicon. Which is an indispensable help to a student of Shakespeare's language and a student of Shakespeare's literature. The contexual meanings of the cited words - in the very play, the very scene and the very speech - shed light both on any undertaken linguistic exploration into the Bard's language and on an intimate understanding of Shakespeare's masterpieces by an audience, an actor and a Bardaholic!

Yes, it need be mentioned that there are synopses, and helpful circles of the plays to clarify who is who to whom and wonderful appendices of classical mythology names, folklore, dialects and other specific nuances illuminating Shakespeare's texts.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2012
Other reviewers have aptly described the excellent quality of this book, but I just wanted to add a proviso: unless I am missing something, the Kindle adaptation is virtually unusable. The text has been copied wholesale as if it were a novel; unlike other Kindle dictionaries I have used, there is no way to look up entries. You have to use the generic Kindle search function, which brings up every instance of the word in question in the book, with no way of distinguishing the actual entry from the sometimes numerous other cases in which the same word appears as part of a quote listed under another entry. Unless the word is very rare, this results in an agonising and time-consuming process every time you try to look something up. Please buy the hard copy until Amazon sorts out the Kindle version!
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2007
An incredibly informative and user-friendly guide, not just to the language of Shakespeare, but to the English Language as a whole in the 16th and early 17th centuries.

Not only does the glossary explain specific words of difficulty it also encorporates the many different ways that Shakespeare, (and many of his contemporaries) used grammar. Crystal includes a short summary of 39 of Shakespeare's plays, and detailed diagrams show the different social networks of the characters in each.

David Crystal has excelled himself yet again, creating a reference for a wide audience; as this like many of his books is written and set out in a style which is both user-friendly and academic.

Definatly worth the money and the time to read. This is a book that you will go back to again and again!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2012
I studied Shakespeare at school and uni and am familiar with the lingo; however, I find myself referring to this tome for the exact meanings of words whose use has changed.

The most use I have made of this book has been during those moments when I haven't had time to get into a novel, but want something to occupy my mind, for example, while waiting for something to cook. Then I'll open it at any page and find interesting knowledge which increases my understanding of Shakespeare's language.

A must for students and anyone with a love of Shakespeare.

The reason I've given only four stars is its enormous size and weight (like a concise dictionary) and lack of portability.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2009
Everything you want from a Shakespeare glossary written and presented in a very easy-to-follow way.
A must to anyone who work with Shakespeare's work and for general Shakespeare fans.
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on 1 February 2015
This has to be the most handy book I have ever bought in my life! It is definitely something every drama student needs!! It has every word from Shakespeare's plays in, tells you what plays that word is used in corresponding to what the word means in that context! I hope that makes sense... anyway! It is worth every penny and you may think you're a poor student or actor etc etc, but my word it is the single most useful thing you can buy to help you through your drama school years! Or English degree or whatever! Even if you're a fan of Shakespeare or want to try and get in to his plays buy this!! It will make all the pennies drop at once and all of his plays will finally make some sort of sense!
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on 5 August 2011
I was recommended this book by an RSC director as an invaluable aid to tackling Shakespeare's language and he was absolutely right; it's like a dictionary just of Bard words and phrases! It even defines a particular word or phrase differently according to which play it's from. The book also includes useful sections on swear words of the day and such things as classical references to the Gods etc.

As an amateur director and someone considering further study into Shakespeare's words, I would strongly recommend this book. It's reassuring to also note that the actors and producers in Stratford find it invaluable too!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2010
This is an extremely well put together piece of work. It is very easy to use and should appeal to both the enthusiast and the student. It's cross referencing is excellent and includes a synopsis of every play, the Dramatis Personae of each play and the relationships between all of the characters. It has made my life a lot easier when it comes to 'diagnosing' a Shakespeare text.
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