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Remembering Shakespeare

by David Scott Kastan, Kathryn James

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612,102,308 (4)1
"To be or not to be." "My kingdom for a horse." "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day." How is it that Shakespeare is so well remembered? In this richly illustrated book, David Scott Kastan and Kathryn James explore Yale University's extraordinary collection of works by or relating to William Shakespeare. They chart the winding course by which the playwright has been remembered, often in unexpected ways, for some four centuries. Many of the rare items illustrated and discussed in the book have never before been publicly displayed. The authors examine such treasures as the earliest known manuscript of Macbeth, a sixteenth-century reader's notes on Shakespeare, and a proof copy of Walt Whitman's "Shakespeare-Bacon's Cipher," to show how various, idiosyncratic acts of memory over hundreds of years have given us the texts, and even the person, we remember as "Shakespeare."… (more)

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Published to accompany an exhibit this spring at Yale's Beinecke Library, Remembering Shakespeare (Yale University Press, 2012) is everything a good exhibition catalog should be: short, but thorough; well-designed, and pleasurable to read and to look at. If I can, I certainly hope I'll be able to get to New Haven and view the show in person, but this excellent catalog will serve as a good stand-in should that prove impossible.

David Scott Kastan and Kathryn James have encapsulated the exhibit well, highlighting not just the major themes, but also the fact that this is an exhibit about Shakespeare at Yale, not just Shakespeare at the Beinecke. Items from the collections of the Elizabethan Club, the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, the Lewis Walpole Center, and the Yale Center for British Art are also on display, and their inclusion makes for a much richer, more satisfying experience.

The short chapters are well-written and crisp; there's not a superfluous word, and as it should the text continues to return to the main theme, on the very different ways Shakespeare has been "remembered" over the centuries. The illustrations are reproduced very well, and the overall design is attractive. A great success; if the exhibit comes anywhere near the high quality of the catalog, I'm sure it's just as much worth viewing as the book is worth reading.

http://philobiblos.blogspot.com/2012/02/book-review-remembering-shakespeare.html ( )
  JBD1 | Feb 20, 2012 |
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Kastan, David Scottprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
James, Kathrynmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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"To be or not to be." "My kingdom for a horse." "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day." How is it that Shakespeare is so well remembered? In this richly illustrated book, David Scott Kastan and Kathryn James explore Yale University's extraordinary collection of works by or relating to William Shakespeare. They chart the winding course by which the playwright has been remembered, often in unexpected ways, for some four centuries. Many of the rare items illustrated and discussed in the book have never before been publicly displayed. The authors examine such treasures as the earliest known manuscript of Macbeth, a sixteenth-century reader's notes on Shakespeare, and a proof copy of Walt Whitman's "Shakespeare-Bacon's Cipher," to show how various, idiosyncratic acts of memory over hundreds of years have given us the texts, and even the person, we remember as "Shakespeare."

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