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Posted August 17, 2005
Everything you always wanted to know and then some about the greatest wordsmith of all time is found in this slim, trim volume by Shakespearean scholar David Crystal, and his son, Ben Crystal. Ever wonder just how many words Shakespeare invented? Well, in case you do there are '357 instances where Shakespeare is the only recorded user of a word in one or more of its senses.' Now, just in case listeners aren't properly impressed with the profundity and depth of your knowledge, you can always toss in the number of times the Bard was among several to use a word for the first time. Jack Lemmon is quoted as saying that he was unconvinced that Shakespeare didn't make up words just to upset the actors. (Lemmon was rehearsing for his part in Kenneth Branagh's 'Hamlet.') How's that for cocktail party conversation? David Crystal won a host of readers with his 'The Stories of English.' We quickly learned that he makes the most esoteric subjects fun, and he continues to do so with 'The Shakespeare Miscellany.' This is one of those delightful books that you can pick up and enjoy for a minute or two and then return to as you wish. Lest you think Crystal is all fun and games - `tis not so. There are numerous insights into Shakespeare's poems and plays offering a greater understanding of this master's work, as well as interesting information about his life and the world in which he lived. 'The Shakespeare Miscellany' is pure pleasure. By the way, do you have any idea who might have been 'the dark lady' that Shakespeare addressed in many of his sonnets? Or, can you guess some of the folks who shared birth or death dates with the Bard? Alright - I'll tell you two: Shirley Temple shares his birth date, and Miguel de Cervantes shares his death date. Did I mention that 'The Shakespeare Miscellany' is addictive? - Gail Cooke
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Posted December 2, 2008
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