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Shakespeare for Dummies [Paperback]

By John Doyle (Author) & Ray Lischner (Author)
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Item description for Shakespeare for Dummies by John Doyle & Ray Lischner...

Simple, practical, and down-to-earth, an essential guide to the comedies, tragedies, and histories of the renowned playwright and poet includes plot and main character summaries, an overview of sentence structure and verbiage, and much more. Original.

Publishers Description
""Shakespeare For Dummies" is exquisite."
--from the Foreword by Dame Judi Dench, star of "Mrs. Brown" and "Shakespeare in Love"

"What the film "Shakespeare in Love" has done to make Shakespeare the man accessible to a general audience, this book will do to make Shakespeare the writer enjoyable."
--Charlotte J.Headrick, PhD, Professor and Director, Theater Arts, Oregon State University

Does the thought of sitting through A "Midsummer Night's Dream" give you nightmares? Did "Romeo and Juliet" seem like a foreign film--without the subtitles? As John Doyle and Ray Lischner prove in this uniquely accessible guide, Shakespeare is not only the greatest writer who ever lived, he's also a great entertainer--once you get a handle on his wild plots and witty wordplay. Under their guidance, you'll: Go inside an Elizabethan theater--and find out how they managed with almost no seats, no roof and no women onstageGet a handle on Shakespeare's language--including all those racy puns and jokesMaximize your enjoyment of his plays and poetryIdentify contemporary idioms and phrases that come from Shakespeare's playsFind Shakespeare festivals and performances in your areaCatch ten of the best show ever made of the Bard's plays and meet ten of the greatest Shakespearean actors of all time

In simple, straightforward language, this friendly guide eases you into the wild, wonderful world of Shakespeare. With the help of snappy summaries and scorecards that help you keep track of who's who, who's in love with whom, and who's killed whom in every play, it helps you: Understand Shakespeare the person, his life and times and what makes him so specialMake sense of Shakespearean language and why it sounds the way it doesGet the inside track on the kinds of stories, characters and settings found in Shakespeare's playsAppreciate Shakespeare's sonnets and other non-dramatic poetry

A royal feast for the head and heart, Shakespeare's works have been thrilling audiences for four centuries, as they will four hundred years from now. Now let "Shakespeare For Dummies" help you to enjoy one the world's great literary treasures.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Shakespeare for Dummies by John Doyle & Ray Lischner has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Library Journal - 07/01/1999 page 80

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Item Specifications...

Studio: For Dummies
Pages   363
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.18" Width: 7.38" Height: 0.82"
Weight:   1.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 30, 1999
Publisher   For Dummies
ISBN  0764551353  
ISBN13  9780764551352  
UPC  785555551350  

Availability  0 units.

More About John Doyle & Ray Lischner

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About the Authors

John Doyle, former artistic director of four renowned theater companies in Britain, has directed more than 160 professional productions, including Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, and Much Ado About Nothing.

Ray Lischner helped form TACIT (Theater Arts at the California Institute of Technology) and participated in every production. He has performed in several Shakespeare plays, including Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Titus Andronicus.

John Doyle was born in 1928.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Television > General
2Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Television
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( S ) > Shakespeare, William > Shakespeare, William
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Drama > British & Irish
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > British > Shakespeare
8Books > Subjects > Reference

Reviews - What do customers think about Shakespeare for Dummies?

Excellent intro to the Bard  Nov 21, 2007
I actually got an advance copy of this because Ray Lischner is an old friend of mine. I was thrilled at how the book turned out- open, accessible and entertaining. Even my teenagers liked it (which is saying a great deal!) I think that it is an excellent introduction to Shakespeare for people who've little familiarity with the material, a terrific way to reintroduce Shakespeare to those who only encountered it in high school, and for medieval/Renaissance geeks like myself, a quick, handy reference and an amusing read.
A Shakespeare dummy no more  May 9, 2004
"Exquisite," as Judi Dench writes in her forward, a treat for anyone who enjoys Shakespeare and an accessible guide for those who want to learn more about him and his work. Authors John Doyle and Ray Lischner are acutely attune to the difficulties one faces when encountering Shakespeare, whether for pleasure or required reading, and pare down the excesses of language into a digestible, humorous guide.

Act-by-act summaries of the plays form the bulk of this book, but a biography and introduction to the Elizabethan era (Chapter 2, "Will's World") as well as the essentials to understanding Shakespeare's work receive a fair amount of attention. Part II is devoted entirely to language, with a small glossary of commonly used words and keys to the many puns and jokes in the plays. Particularly helpful is Chapter 6, "How to Read Shakespeare's English." In Part III, the authors introduce structure, themes, and common character types and explore the actual staging of a play. In addition to his dramatic works, the book also discusses Shakespeare's sonnets and various other poems.

You'll find these elements in many introductory works, but few contain as much information and are as easy to read. The authors do all they can to facilitate modern readers - scorecards to track characters and their actions, video suggestions, photos from stage and film productions, and international festivals. After reading this book, you'll be ready to discuss any topic on Shakespeare, from the ten greatest Shakespearean performers to the Dark Lady of the sonnets to whether "Cymbeline" is a comedy, tragedy, or history.

Many trees but not much forest.  Dec 15, 2000
There are 2 main reasons for purchasing one of the books in this series: you're a "dummy" with respect to the subject, or you're knowledgeable and either wish to test your smarts against the author's or to acquire some ideas about how to communicate your knowledge to others. If I may be so presumptuous as to place myself in the latter category, I'd be hard-pressed to recommend this book. It provides comparatively brief summaries of each of the plays, but little perspective on what makes one play more profound, more respected, more "required" reading than another. A reader might just as easily conclude that *Titus Andronicus* is as important as *Hamlet*; that *Romeo and Juliet* is no less a tragedy than *Lear*; that *Henry 6 or 8* is as well written as *Henry's 4 and 5*. Moreover, the book-cover blurb promises to teach the reader how to read the Sonnets (totalling 154), yet the authors provide no more than 2 glib paragraphs about the sonnet cycle.

The authors' recommendations about films and editions are too succinct or limited to be of much help. (Only the Arden Complete Edition is recommended, an edition with numerous problems.) And there's the question of just how much justice you can do the Bard with language that, unlike his, is unremittingly "flip." But if you enjoy this style, I'd recommend reading first the section on Shakespeare in *An Incomplete Education* to get a better sense of which readings are truly indispensable and most worthy of a reader's time. And if you want more detailed summaries of plays, try SparkNotes, the website created by Harvard students.

Shakespeare for you and I  Apr 16, 2000
This book is brought to you by the same folks who publish all the ". . . For Dummies" books for learning computer programs. I have been known to snicker at these books, as I'm rather computer-dweebic, and don't need computer-dummy books.

It turns out that my next screenplay involves Shakespeare, and before I started writing, I needed to do some research on the bloke and his works. At the local library, I found "Shakespeare for Dummies." I scanned the book, then nearly choked on swallowing a dollop of pride as I toted the book through the checkout.

It's not easy to be expert at something and at the same time to be able to explain it clearly to beginners (or dummies). These authors definitely do have that talent.

Open the cover, and first thing, there's a listing of all of the dude's plays with a one or two sentence summary -- the lay of the land!

The book goes on to cover the life and times of William; explanations of his brand of English, the theatrical world he worked in, etc. Deeper into the book, there are two- to three-page summaries of each play, with recommendations for videos of each play.

The authors' wholistic approach is very informative, and they take a good-natured approach to a topic that could be oh-so-scholarly.

My screenplay, by the way, is titled Learning Shakespeare. The irony of it all.

Fun, funny, and informative!  Oct 2, 1999
Shakespeare isn't dull when you read Shakespeare for Dummies. It starts with an overview of Shakespeare's life and world. It tells you what you need to know about Shakespeare's language, plays, and poetry, without burdening you with stuffy academic claptrap. Summaries of every play tell you about the play prior to watching it on stage or on screen. This book is for everyone--Lit. majors, actors, or if you just want to know more about Shakespeare.

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