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In the Shady Wood

Michael Neill: Staging the Forest, 22 March 2018

The Shakespearean Forest 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 185 pp., £75, August 2017, 978 0 521 57344 3
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... as places of pastoral refuge from the cares and brutal competition of society, as the Forest of Arden does for Duke Senior and his exiled companions in As You Like It: there they can ‘fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world’. Indeed in his Treatise and Discourse of the Lawes of the Forrest (1598), the fittingly named ...

Great Instructor

Charles Nicholl, 31 August 1989

Ben Jonson: A Life 
by David Riggs.
Harvard, 399 pp., £27.95, April 1989, 0 674 06625 1
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... big morose Ajax in Troilus and Cressida (with, according to Honigmann, the diminutive epigrammist John Weever as Thersites). Others say Jonson is a model for Jaques, the embittered satirist of Arden (‘They that are most galled with my folly, They most must laugh’). Riggs offers, rather unconvincingly, Malvolio in ...

The Redeemed Vicarage

John Lennard, 12 May 1994

Pictures of Perfection 
by Reginald Hill.
HarperCollins, 303 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 00 232392 3
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... only by porous membranes, and the outside world can and does break in upon them. Such places, like Arden, are associated with genres in extremis: made overtly unreal by parading their accumulated conventions, they have the magical and consciously literary ability to allow characters to transcend the reader’s, author’s and genre’s normal parameters of ...

Life Spans

Denton Fox, 6 November 1986

The Ages of Man: A Study in Medieval Writing and Thought 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 211 pp., £19.50, May 1986, 0 19 811188 6
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... by Shakespearian editors. He remarks that the inadequacy of the note to this passage in the New Arden edition is ‘extraordinary’, but the other recent editions I have looked at (Cambridge, London, New Penguin, Pelican) are little better, though of course some of them are lightly annotated throughout. This would seem to be more evidence, if more is ...


Mary-Kay Wilmers: Karl Miller Remembered, 9 October 2014

... The LRB became a paper in its own right in May 1980, when the first independent issue appeared. (John Lanchester will write about Karl and the LRB in the next issue.) For all its genius Karl’s Listener was still a conventional London weekly, though affiliated to the BBC, rather than a political entity of one sort or another. The LRB is more sedate (no ...

Return to the Totem

Frank Kermode, 21 April 1988

William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion 
by Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, John Jowett and William Montgomery.
Oxford, 671 pp., £60, February 1988, 0 19 812914 9
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Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare 
by Stanley Cavell.
Cambridge, 226 pp., £25, January 1988, 0 521 33032 7
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A History of English Literature 
by Alastair Fowler.
Blackwell, 395 pp., £17.50, November 1987, 0 631 12731 3
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... editors need to justify a reading; so anybody who craves the sort of help to be had from, say, the Arden Shakespeare, or the single-play editions of the Oxford, or even from some rival collected editions, will need an even larger desk. And we learn from the Preface, with mixed feelings, that the editors have compiled ‘a glossarial commentary (at present ...

How do you spell Shakespeare?

Frank Kermode, 21 May 1987

William Shakespeare. The Complete Works: Original-Spelling Edition 
edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 1456 pp., £75, February 1987, 9780198129196
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William Shakespeare: The Complete Works 
edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 1432 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 19 812926 2
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... portable and more useful books I can’t say much; they will be judged by comparison with the New Arden editions, some of which are now showing signs of age (some of them always did), and possibly with the New Penguin. There is a Cambridge set now well under way; the Oxford Hamlet is the third considerable edition of that play in five years, following hard ...

For his Nose was as sharpe as a Pen, and a Table of greene fields

Michael Dobson: The Yellow Shakespeare, 10 May 2007

William Shakespeare, Complete Works: The RSC Shakespeare 
edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen.
Macmillan, 2486 pp., £30, April 2007, 978 0 230 00350 7
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... is competing for space in bookshops whose shelves are already straining under the burden of the Arden (1998, revised 2001), the Collins (1994, revised 2006), the Complete Pelican (2002), the Everyman Signet (1992-96), the Norton (1997), the Oxford (1986, revised 2005), the Portable (2007, a boxed set in paperback of an edition first published in 1992 and ...

As if Life Depended on It

John Mullan: With the Leavisites, 12 September 2013

Memoirs of a Leavisite: The Decline and Fall of Cambridge English 
by David Ellis.
Liverpool, 151 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 1 84631 889 4
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English as a Vocation: The ‘Scrutiny’ Movement 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Oxford, 298 pp., £57, May 2012, 978 0 19 969517 1
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The Two Cultures? The Significance of C.P. Snow 
by F.R. Leavis.
Cambridge, 118 pp., £10.99, August 2013, 978 1 107 61735 3
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... and Milton with respect to their ‘concreteness, precision, subtlety’. A footnote to an Arden edition of Macbeth that Leavis had already deplored in print was set for discussion in the exam paper. The teacher who was versed in Leavis’s writing would have known how to prime his pupils. It was a reciprocal arrangement. Nearly all of his students ...

Keep talking

Julian Loose, 26 March 1992

by Nicholson Baker.
Granta, 172 pp., £14.99, March 1992, 0 14 014232 0
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... up in Rochester, Upstate New York (coincidentally the birthplace of another sui generis writer, John Ashbery). Abandoning an early ambition to become a composer, he graduated from Haverford College, and then worked for a year on Wall Street. Attracted by ‘the prosperous-seeming world of books’, he had short stories and ‘quasi-philosophical ...

Playboy’s Paperwork

Patrick Collinson: Historiography and Elizabethan politics, 11 November 1999

The World of the Favourite 
edited by J.H. Elliott and L.W.B. Brockliss.
Yale, 320 pp., £35, June 1999, 0 300 07644 4
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The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics: The Political Career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-97 
by Paul Hammer.
Cambridge, 468 pp., £45, June 1999, 0 521 43485 8
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... had been at least part of the inspiration for a book by one of the editors of this volume, John Elliott: his Richelieu and Olivares (1984). For all that this volume is produced with the lavishness we have come to expect from Yale University Press, with no less than 74 illustrations, most of them portraits of 37 ‘favourites’ and of the monarchs they ...

Saints on Sundays, Devils All the Week After

Patrick Collinson: London Burnings, 19 September 2002

The Antichrist’s Lewd Hat: Protestants, Papists and Players in Post-Reformation England 
by Peter Lake and Michael Questier.
Yale, 731 pp., £30, February 2002, 0 300 08884 1
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... melancholic Mrs Joan Drake, who fell about when paid a professional visit by the famous divine John Dod because he reminded her of the character of Ananias in The Alchemist. Lake turns the story around. It was because Dod with his great beard and upturned eyes really existed that Jonson was able to put him into his play, even if disguised as a separatist ...


Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 19 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... opens with a brisk pair of essays by David Fallow and Michael Wood on the subject of his parents: John Shakespeare, born in about 1530, the son of a tenant farmer in the outlying village of Snitterfield, and Mary née Arden, some years younger, of a more prosperous family from Wilmcote. Neither of their baptisms is ...


Barbara Everett, 31 March 1988

... failed to use the more conventional association of cock-crowing with Easter. But the New Arden editor is surely right to hint that the writer invented rather than found this myth of Christmas. And if Shakespeare did so, then his reason was that Christmas was needed in his play. Horatio answers Marcellus’s Christmas speech with: Let us impart what ...


Michael Neve, 17 October 1985

Hamlet Closely Observed 
by Martin Dodsworth.
Athlone, 316 pp., £18, July 1985, 0 485 11283 3
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edited by Philip Edwards.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £15, June 1985, 9780521221511
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The Renaissance Hamlet: Issues and Responses in 1600 
by Roland Mushat Frye.
Princeton, 398 pp., £23.75, December 1983, 0 691 06579 9
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... uses of delay have even more sinister pay-offs: ‘the law’s delay’. In his justly celebrated Arden Shakespeare edition of the play, published in 1982, Harold Jenkins looks at the vast literature that has already appeared on the subject of ‘delay’ in Hamlet, and reminds the reader that many critics have found it an exhausted subject that should be put ...

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