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I have just purchased this book, as it was recommended by one of my lecturers. Unfortunately, I will have to abstain from reading it..which will likely impede my understanding of my Shakespeare module (I'm a university student). Why? Because the binding on the book is defective, with half the pages only partially attached to the spine of the book. The other pages, which are attached, have seemingly been cut in a jagged line. Leaving crumpled paper ruining the first half of the book. If this wasn't displeasing enough, I soon discovered that hardened glue was stuck to many of the pages, having seeped from the spine itself. Between the oozing glue, the ravaged pages and the not-even-adhered pages, I am very upset with this product's manufacturing. I would not recommend purchasing it for the reasons stated above.
I was very excited, after reading the enthusiastic reviews, to start reading a book/manual about Shakespeare's works, that it was focusing mainly on the plays and not about the non verified and totally false stories about the actor from Stratford. But I was highly disappointed to discover again a Stratfordian theorist, raving about a Fantasy-land playwright. Each chapter uses a couple of key concepts to analyze the play. Some ideas are interesting, some are clearly misjudged. I clearly don't advise the purchase of this book.
The foreward was great, amusing, simple, understandable! I thought there might be something like a synopsis on each play, a code to break down the language so the plays become more understandable. Explaining the themes, the whys the wherefores. I went straight to King Lear as I did that for A level several decades ago. The chapter was just an essay on the ending being so tragic and awful and that another playwright re-wrote it to suit the times of the return of Charles II. I'm really none the wiser. I haven't bothered with the other chapters. Perhaps this book is more suited to the erudite students of Shakespeare who have studied him for years.