Saturday, March 28, 2015

Rescued Book #36: Tales from Shakespeare

It’s safe to say that in order to be considered well educated or well cultured, one should be familiar with the works of Shakespeare.  I still remember being assigned the role of Nurse as my ninth grade English class tackled Romeo and Juliet. One year our school musical was Kiss Me Kate where the play within the play is The Taming of the Shrew. Macbeth, Hamlet, and Othello all fell in my high school career as well.  And I know I need to at least expose my son to these great works.  That’s why I was thrilled to find my latest rescued book at a recent YMCA sale.

My particular copy was discarded by St. Mary’s Grade School, can you believe at one time kids were exposed to Shakespeare in grade school?  That reminds me of that test on the internet from the 1800’s in order to graduate 8th grade.  The authors however wrote their adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays in 1807 specifically for young readers.

Rather than being written as a script, the stories come in narrative form.  They are not dumbed down in any way…wherever possible his own words are used.  Often when a character sings, his or her words have been copied verbatim. 

The plays turned into stories in this volume (the Lambs actually wrote two) are:

  • The Tempest
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • The Winter’s Tale
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • As You Like It
  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • Cymbeline
  • King Lear
  • Macbeth
  • All’s Well That Ends Well
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • The Comedy of Errors
  • Measure for Measure
  • Twelfth Night, or What You Will
  • Timon of Athens
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
  • Pericles, Prince of Tyre
  • Othello

Each play has been summarized in 15-25 pages.  You don’t need to find your on copy of Tales From Shakespeare to rescue, this book has been in the public domain for some time and is available from sites like Project Gutenberg.  Still it would be nice to save some more of these old classics and help out your local library or other charitable cause at the same time.

In the meantime have you thought about how many commonly used phrases originated in Shakespeare’s plays? Here are a few:

  • Neither a borrower nor a lender be (Hamlet)
  • Brave new world (The Tempest)
  • Break the ice (The Taming of the Shrew)Refuse to budge an inch (Measure for Measure / Taming of the Shrew)
  • Dead as a doornail (2 Henry VI)
  • Eaten me out of house and home (2 Henry IV)
  • The game is afoot (I Henry IV)
  • Good riddance (Troilus and Cressida)
  • In a pickle (The Tempest)
  • Knock knock! Who's there? (Macbeth)
  •  Melted into thin air (The Tempest)
  • Play fast and loose (King John)

You can see all my rescued books by clicking here.

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