Customer Review

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Who on earth is this aimed at?, 17 April 2013
This review is from: Shakespeare on Toast: Getting a Taste for the Bard (Kindle Edition)
Though there is certainly nothing wrong with a writer attempting a basic entry level guide for the Shakespearean cannon, ('Old Billy' is still very much the victim of the academic clutches and moss which have stopped people from enjoying the plays, or indeed, going anywhere near them.) sadly Crystal's book isn't it. Certainly he and it are nowhere half as smart as they like to presume they are.
Crystal's intent, though admirable, falls apart through a feeble, informal, atmosphere and tone, verging on patronizing condescension, that for the most part I wondered if the book was aimed at 13-16 year olds. (In turn this is the book's core audience.) Pop cultural allusions are fired about like confetti. 'Soaps' are paraded before us continously to make sure 'you-get-the-point'. In short, Crystal tells us that 'Shakespeare is fantastic but I'm not really going to explain why, because he just is. 'Eastenders' is Shakespeare. Okay?...' That Crystal should boast about having a degree in linguastics? I find astonishing. As a writer he comes across as a seventies-corduroy wearing, 'Howard Kirk' - style trendist with poor writing skills and an attitude problem. ('You can't handle Shakespeare because you need me to talk down to you to get it. Okay?') The book doesn't back up his boast.
Anyone interested in a basic entry level book on Shakespeare would be best advised to try Bill Bryson's biography of 'Billy',Shakespeare: The World as a Stage (Eminent Lives). Bryson is a very good, accessible writer. Strangely enough he doesn't have a degree in linguistics. Thank God for that I say.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Jul 2013 11:09:23 BDT
VivaPapa says:
'Canon' not 'cannon'.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jul 2013 11:13:19 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 Jul 2013 11:13:53 BDT
I couldn't care less. I can't stand pedants. The book's yours.

Posted on 2 Sep 2013 15:00:04 BDT
KrankyKat says:
I really appreciate your comment and find it helpful in giving me a perspective different from my own. I thoroughly enjoyed the book but the points you bring up make sense to me, too.
I don't know how this was marketed, but for all I know BEN Crystal does not have a degree in linguistics. His father, DAVID Crystal, is one of the most eminent linguists of the English language. He, by the way, has promoted a democratic, non-pedantic use of language throughout his career.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Sep 2013 20:31:19 BDT
Thanks, I really wanted the book to be as good as Bill Bryson's. it was such a disappointment. That David Crystal is Ben Crystal's father? I had no idea. Even less of an excuse for the book not to have worked.
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