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Shakespeare's Words: A Glossary and Language Companion Paperback – 1 Apr 2004
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A resource for students, scholars and actors, this book contains glosses and quotes for over 14,000 words that could be misunderstood or unknown to a modern audience. Plot summaries for all Shakespeare's plays are included as well as notes on specific areas of his language.
About the Author
David Crystal is one of the most authoritative commentators on the English language, and amongst many other things a contributor to the Oxford Companion to Shakespeare. He lives in Anglesey, Wales. Ben Crystal, David's son, is an actor and lives in London (NW1). Stanley Wells, who has written the preface, is General Editor of the Oxford Shakespeare and Associate Editor of the New Penguin Shakespeare series.
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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.
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.
- Reading Shakespeare using word definitions inharmoniously with Shakespeare's work is using a tool rendering Shakespeare's selection of words foggy & not benefitting the user/reader.
- The glossary provides guidance where I want guidance on Shakespearean plays.
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