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The Review Man

Formerly of Goodreads, now of both words, in the coming times only here?

Currently reading

Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature
Margaret Atwood
Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals
Robert M. Pirsig
Simulacra and Simulation (The Body, In Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism)
Jean Baudrillard, Sheila Faria Glaser
Leaven of Malice
Robertson Davies
The Salterton Trilogy
Robertson Davies
Effi Briest (Penguin Classics)
Theodor Fontane
Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World
Nicholas Ostler
Cases And Materials On The Law Of Torts
Robert M. Solomon
Public Law : Cases Materials and Commentary
Philip Bryden, Craik, Neil, Craig Forcese, Forcese, Craig
A Property Law Reader
Bruce H. Ziff
Tales from Shakespeare - Charles Lamb, Mary Lamb I read this in my eighth grade English class since I was 'still too young for Shakespeare' but 'too old for Magic Tree House books'. (The scare quotes indicate my contempt for such arbitrary reading level classifications. I'm pretty sure I could have handled Romeo and Juliet in eighth grade.)

Everyone in my class thought I was a "genius" because I was (and I quote) "reading Shakespeare"; they didn't realize that I was only reading 7-pages summaries of his plays. Well, close enough, right?

Why would someone want to write a book consisting solely of Shakespeare summaries? Why not just read his actual plays? Of course, wasn't Charles Lamb (or was it Mary?) declared insane? I suppose that might have helped. Seriously though, it's not as if Lamb's prose is much easier to understand than Shakespeare's verse; in fact, the Lambs remove all the fun stuff, the lewd jokes and ironic humour that we've come to expect from The Bard.

Perhaps the Lambs were writing for a younger audience, but people don't usually give ten-year-olds a Cliffs' Notes version of Moby-Dick, do they? If a kid wants to read Gulliver's Travels, would you instead point him to the Wikipedia summary or (worse yet) the movie version?

The Lambs are good writers and competent summarizers, so you're not exactly being subjected to drivel. But if you're a young reader who's ambitious enough to try Shakespeare, I'd say you're ambitious enough to try the real thing.