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Shakespeare with or without the waffle

Two new books take a radically different approach, but the lively 30-Second Shakespeare beats the academic ‘alternative biography’ hands down

5 December 2015

9:00 AM

5 December 2015

9:00 AM

30-Second Shakespeare Ros Barber and Mark Rylance

Ivy Press, pp.160, £14.99, ISBN: 9781782402602

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells

CUP, pp.370, £18.99, ISBN: 9781107699090

30-Second Shakespeare: 50 key aspects of his works, life and legacy, each explained in half a minute sounds trivial, but it isn’t. The purpose of this short, beautifully presented and fully illustrated guide is not to feed vain show-offs with sound-bites to give them something clever to say at dinner parties but, as Ros Barber puts it in her 30-second introduction, ‘to make Shakespeare interesting and comprehensible by cutting out the waffle’.

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'30-Second Shakespeare', £12.74 and 'The Shakespeare Circle', £16.14 are available from the Spectator Bookshop, Tel: 08430 600033

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