Coming Attractions

And so we’ve come to April 23 at last! It’s time to begin our (I invite you to join me) serial reading of the plays. We’ll begin, as I suggested we must, with Romeo and Juliet. After that, since Spring finally appears to have come to Toronto, the romantic comedies are in order. We’ll start with Much Ado About Nothing and take in Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which, yes, I intend to be reading on Midsummer Night. (As You Like It and Twelfth Night are reserved for the very end of the Shakespeare Project. If I can manage it, we’ll be reading Twelfth Night on Twelfth Night, January 6, 2012.) After that things are pretty much wide open, though I’ll have a block of Shakespeare’s Villains (with a nod to Stephen Berkoff), probably ending it with Othello and moving into my favorites, the so-called problem plays. It’s a natural transition since Measure for Measure is a curdled version of Othello (and Troilus and Cressida is a curdled version of Romeo and Juliet). Whether or not I can hold off on The Winter’s Tale, an underrated play, until winter, there’s going to be something of interest going on all the time through at least the rest of the year. So please visit, bookmark, subscribe, comment, and enjoy!

2 responses to “Coming Attractions

  1. I’m new at this, but I have a question: what text are you using for Shakespeare?

    • I use the Arden Shakespeare texts; for convenience I’ll often take a quote off the web somewhere but I’ll then revise it to conform to the Arden. (If anyone catches a quote where I’ve been careless, please let me know!_ I like the individual Arden texts because they have detailed notes at the foot of the page (sometimes taking up more than half the page) as well as the collation, that weird-looking list of variant readings that comes between the text and the notes. Their introductions are also quite comprehensive, although of course their quality varies with the editor (Hammond’s intro to Double Falsehood really isn’t very good given what he needs to do, the intro to the Third Edition of As You Like It makes me grate my teeth. On the other hand, the Third Edition Twelfth Night introduction (and notes) is excellent.

      Unfortunately, the individual Arden volumes are very expensive (I haunted the Strand bookstore for years to assemble a complete collection). But I think that if you’re starting out with Shakespeare the more important thing is a good glossary, or a dictionary you can keep at hand. There’s little reason to worry about editorial issues at that point, as opposed to simply making sure you understand what Shakespeare’s saying. It can also be a real distraction to move back and forth from the text at the top of the page to the notes. So if you’re looking for a text I’d recommend the one I used in college, the complete works edited by Peter Alexander, a reliable old Scottish editor. The glossary isn’t as detailed as I’d like but the notes are not intrusive, and it’s the cheapest complete works available for a serious reader (you don’t want to go with those public domain Wordsworth-type editions). It’s $18 at Amazon and, of course, cheaper through Thanks for the question, and let me know if there’s anything more I can add.