William Shakespeare
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Unique features of the Signet Classic ShakespeareAn extensive overview of Shakespeare's life, world, and theater by the general editor of the Signet Classic Shakespeare series, Sylvan BarnetA special introduction to the play by the editor, Sylvan Barnet, Tufts UniversitySource from which Shakespeare derived Macbeth—selections from Raphael Holinshed's The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and IrelandDramatic criticism from the past and present: commentaries by A. C. Bradley, Elmer Edgar Stoll, Mary McCarthy, Joan Larsen Klein, Alan SinfieldA comprehensive stage and screen history of notable actors, directors, and productions of Macbeth, then and nowText, notes, and commentaries printed in the clearest, most readable typeUp-to-date list of recommended readingsWilliam Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King's New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers." Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later under James I, called the King' s Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain's Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare's plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio."Based on an HBO animated series, these condensations emphasize the dramatic content of some of Shakespeare's best known works. As abridged by Garfield in consultation with a panel of scholars, the books on the whole retain the magic of Shakespeare's vision and remain true to his poetics. Linguistic fluidity is perforce sacrificed (omitted lines are presented as italicized summaries interspersed throughout the dialogue), but these versions should still fire children's imaginations. Though the artwork varies in quality, the Eastern European illustrators generally capture the underlying theatrics. Palettes are subdued for the dramas, and appropriately brighter for the comedies (though the tone reproductions frequently seem off). Several plays' illustrations have a cartoony appearance; a few exhibit the stilted look of old Classics Comics. While the plays forgo their complexities--many subplots are omitted--as they become more linear in their themes (Macbeth loses much of his humanity, Romeo and Juliet is pared of its politics), their nobility shines through in these visualized introductions. One hopes that readers will be encouraged to move on to the originals."--Publishers Weekly"Tempting readers into this dramatic retelling, the introduction calls this a "horrific tale of witches, murder, ghosts and revenge." Coville (William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1996, etc.) repeats most of the play's famous phrases (condensing the "Double double, toil and trouble" incantation to six lines) and expertly captures the original's lurid supernatural manifestations and dark tone. Lady Macbeth's motives for murdering Duncan are never clear, and the porter's scene--along with some others--is dropped, so the plotting may be even patchier than Shakespeare's; still, as with Coville's previous adaptations of Shakespeare, children unfamiliar with the original will get a good idea of what awaits them. Kelley gives the entire cast a ghostly look in his shadowy, atmospheric paintings; except for the deliciously hideous Weird Sisters, figures are erect and dignified, generally posed at rest with eyes downcast or directed away from the viewer--and despite all the play's gory deeds, there is no blood to be seen. A volume for those who are certain that this kind of adaptation--reduces an intense psychological study to a slim story of multiple murders--will not prejudice children against future encounters with the Bard."--Kirkus Reviews