As You Like It

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Since one-third of each volume of this "Shakespeare Explained" series is taken up by an introduction to Shakespeare's world, Sobran, an ultra-conservative writer who believed Shakespeare was really the Earl of Oxford, seems a rather perverse choice of author. He highlights several candidates nominated as the "real" Shakespeare over the years, while stressing that much of the playwright's life remains unknown. What is known, however, convinces most historians that William Shakespeare was no impostor. (Interested readers may enjoy Marchette Chute's Shakespeare of London). That said, the rest of each volume summarizes and analyzes its play in detail accessible to teens. Naden explains that As You Like It is a pastoral comedy (set in a forest with shepherds and sheep), full of contrasts between courtiers and rustics, true love and lust, pessimism and optimism. Keeping the witty conversation going are four sets of lovers, most of them exiled to the forest by evil relatives. Then there is the frisson of cross-dressing, a device much loved by Elizabethan audiences. The lovely Rosalind—originally played by a boy actor—spends most of the play disguised as a young man who gives advice to her own suitor, Orlando. Touchstone, a witty jester, and the melancholy Jacques ("All the world's a stage") are two of Shakespeare's best-known characters; actors like Kenneth Branagh, Laurence Olivier, and Helen Mirren have played the lovers. "A Closer Look" explores the meaning of the woodland setting, themes (the nature of love, stages of life), motifs (exile, homoeroticism), and symbols (wild animals, love letters on trees). Also useful for understanding the play are explanatory source notes, and possible essay (or discussion) topics. Readers might find DK's Essential Shakespeare Handbook (2004) enlightening, keeping in mind Sobran's advice to seize every opportunity to see Shakespeare films and live theater performances. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608700158
  • Publisher: Cavendish, Marshall Corporation
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Series: Shakespeare Explained 3 Series
  • Pages: 127
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 8.86 (h) x 0.49 (d)

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