- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Macmillan; Unabridged edition (5 Sept. 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0333904990
- ISBN-13: 978-0333904992
- Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3.5 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 397,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Shakespeare: For All Time Hardcover – Unabridged, 5 Sep 2003
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Stanley Wells has distilled nearly half a century's experience as one of the most respected critics and editors of Shakespeare to produce Shakespeare: For All Time, a definitive account of Shakespeare life, writing and afterlife. The result is a brilliant survey of the world's most famous writer, of whom Ben Jonson claimed "He was not of an age, but for all time," that stretches from his first mention in 1564 in the parish register of Stratford-upon-Avon church, to "Shakespeare's emergence as a truly global writer, aided by the increasing use of English as an international language," watched and read by millions of people throughout the world.
The strength of Wells' book is that it encompasses Shakespearean biography, criticism and history. The early chapters deal with Shakespeare's days in Stratford, his move to London and immersion in the theatrical world, and a vivid recreation of the stage and court of the day. There are short, acute accounts of nearly all the plays, as well as Wells' broader claims that Shakespeare was "a religious writer: not a proponent of any particular religion, but a writer who is aware, and makes his spectators aware, of the mystery of things, of mankind's impulse to seek, however unavailingly, for an understanding of how we came to be on earth". However, Wells also manages to survey the growth of Shakespeare's legend throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, thanks to the dedication of actors, critics and editors such as David Garrick and Samuel Johnson, through to his current ascendancy across the globe in the mass markets of publishing and the media.
There can be no better book on Shakespeare for the general reader than Wells' Shakespeare. It is learned, clear and passionately committed to Shakespeare, who as far as Wells is concerned, "is in the water supply, and is likely to remain there until the pipes run dry." --Jerry Brotton
Admirably sane, sensitive and balanced. And everywhere informed by a sense of the plays on the stage. -- Anne Barton, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge
It is learned, wise, beautifully written, eminently readable... a wonderful tribute to Shakespeare by a scholar who has never lost contact with the stage... -- David Bevington and Phyllis Fay Horton, University of Chicago
The best book about Shakespeare for a generation. -- Philip Howard, The Times, November 2002
The best modern book on Shakespeare around: full of common sense, clear fact and enthusiasm. -- Sir Peter Hall, Observer, November 2002
The modesty and grace of his writing voice will appeal to many readers... the historical orientation... will be an important distinguishing feature. -- Phyllis Rackin, University of Pennsylvania
Top Customer Reviews
Stanley Wells, who should be a hero to any self-respecting lover of Shakespeare, has assembled in this heftily sumptuous book not only an outline of the Bard`s life and times, but a chronological rundown of all aspects of his works in performance and on the page.
One of its chief glories is the plethora of illustrations, from line drawings and maps, as well as many pictures and photographs of actors down the ages - from Kean and Kemble to Gambon and Gielgud - in scenes from the plays, to a section of paintings and photos in colour, from rococo depictions of fairyland in A Midsummer Night`s Dream to Peter Brook`s less lavish but no less flamboyant production of the same play.
I suppose it is what`s usually called a coffee-table book, but don`t let that put you off. Here are riches aplenty, from one of our leading Shakespeare scholars (now 82) who co-edited the 1986 Oxford Complete Works, a revolutionary enterprise in its day, offering many surprise `alternate` versions of some of the plays. He is not a man to be shy with his opinions, and gives the reader, whether newcomer to Shakespeare or old hand, much to ponder and to argue with.
To my great gladness, he demolishes the pseudo-arguments of those who, despite evidence enough to the contrary, persist in their perverse insistence that William Shakespeare of Stratford was not the author of the plays of Shakespeare. He needs but a page or two to do this, and does so with deft yet devastating aplomb.Read more ›