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Modern Shakespeare

Graham Bradshaw, 21 April 1983

The Taming of the Shrew 
edited by H.J. Oliver.
Oxford, 248 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 19 812907 6
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Henry V 
edited by Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 330 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 19 812912 2
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Troilus and Cressida 
edited by Kenneth Muir.
Oxford, 205 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 19 812903 3
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Troilus and Cressida 
edited by Kenneth Palmer.
Methuen, 337 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 416 47680 5
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... goodness and greatness. Where Shakespeare is concerned, such issues are especially vexing. As Stanley Wells, the General Editor of the Oxford Shakespeare, engagingly remarks in the title essay of Modernising Shakespeare’s Spelling,* they drive an editor to ‘a state of impotent neurosis, or drink, or an early grave’. To take one example from ...

Unsluggardised

Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 19 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... and rather unexpectedly it goes a good way towards providing one. Edited by the unflagging team of Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson, the book is a remarkable collection of 25 essays, each focusing on a person or group of people known to Shakespeare, on the ways they related to him and influenced him, and, in some cases, on the ways they perceived and ...

How do you spell Shakespeare?

Frank Kermode, 21 May 1987

William Shakespeare. The Complete Works: Original-Spelling Edition 
edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 1456 pp., £75, February 1987, 9780198129196
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William Shakespeare: The Complete Works 
edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 1432 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 19 812926 2
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... the greatest possible display and novelty. One has to admire not only the industry of Professor Wells and his associates, but their flair for publicity, as evidenced by the enormous solemn fuss about the poem ‘Shall I die?’, now accorded an honoured place in their canon, and also by the proclaimed scope and originality of their enterprise, which, though ...

Diary

David Story: On Being a Twin, 5 April 1984

... himself by describing Antipholus of Syracuse as ‘my youngest boy and yet my eldest care’. Stanley Wells writes in the Penguin edition of the play, ‘the inconsistency with line 79 is probably a mere accident,’ but I disagree. It seems unlikely that Shakespeare would forget the order he established only 45 lines earlier. And, more important, he ...

Lumpy, Semi-Dorky, Slouchy, Smarmy

John Lanchester, 23 August 2001

Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous 
by Don Foster.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 333 78170 8
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... turned down again, and pulled the same trick again, this time identifying the anonymous reader as Stanley Wells. Foster wrote to Wells, without letting on how he had worked out who wrote the reader’s report, and Wells wrote back, thanking Foster for his letter and expressing ...

For his Nose was as sharpe as a Pen, and a Table of greene fields

Michael Dobson: The Yellow Shakespeare, 10 May 2007

William Shakespeare, Complete Works: The RSC Shakespeare 
edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen.
Macmillan, 2486 pp., £30, April 2007, 978 0 230 00350 7
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... Institute and was long rumoured to have been the source for the cut of its former director Stanley Wells’s beard; for some reason this picture looks slightly out of focus, as though seen through the wrong reading glasses). Macmillan’s accountants must be relying on the book selling in large quantities and over a long period in order to recoup ...

Return to the Totem

Frank Kermode, 21 April 1988

William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion 
by Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, John Jowett and William Montgomery.
Oxford, 671 pp., £60, February 1988, 0 19 812914 9
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Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare 
by Stanley Cavell.
Cambridge, 226 pp., £25, January 1988, 0 521 33032 7
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A History of English Literature 
by Alastair Fowler.
Blackwell, 395 pp., £17.50, November 1987, 0 631 12731 3
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... to it, except when, somewhere along the way, they changed their minds about Original Spelling. Stanley Cavell calls himself an amateur, which is modest, considering the celebrity of his Shakespeare essays, of which one, the long meditation on King Lear, has been on reading lists for twenty years. However, he is by vocation a philosopher, of distinctive ...

Diary

Michael Dibdin: Ulster Questions, 21 April 1988

... Ulster churches disdain such tactics; they would no more think of second-guessing the Deity than Stanley Wells would of paraphrasing Shakespeare. The result is that pure blasts of 17th-century English peal out amid the High Street mix, creating acute problems of harmonisation. John Julius Norwich pointed out that St Paul can sound like Nancy Mitford ...

And That Rug!

Michael Dobson: Images of Shakespeare, 6 November 2003

Shakespeare’s Face: The Story behind the Newly Discovered Portrait 
by Stephanie Nolen.
Piatkus, 365 pp., £18.99, March 2003, 0 7499 2391 1
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Imagining Shakespeare: A History of Texts and Visions 
by Stephen Orgel.
Palgrave, 172 pp., £25, August 2003, 1 4039 1177 0
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Shakespeare in Art 
by Jane Martineau et al.
Merrell, 256 pp., £29.95, September 2003, 1 85894 229 2
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In Search of Shakespeare 
by Michael Wood.
BBC, 352 pp., £20, May 2003, 9780563534778
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... picture of the writer’s daughter must be as interesting as the offspring of his Muse. Even Stanley Wells, making the first star cameo appearance in Nolen’s book, seems to share this identification between the poetry and the portraiture, declaring that ‘a true picture of his face would make the greatest relic of all.’ What, greater than an ...

Sticktoitiveness

John Sutherland, 8 June 1995

Empire of Words: The Reign of the ‘OED’ 
by John Willinsky.
Princeton, 258 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 691 03719 1
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... the Press be? With the Oxford Shakespeare, they attempted a ground-up, total remodelling job. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor were recruited into the Press for a substantial portion of their scholarly careers. The expenditure must have been huge. The results, judging by reviews of the edition, may not have been entirely satisfactory. The Press seems to ...

Ovid goes to Stratford

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare Myths, 5 December 2013

Thirty Great Myths about Shakespeare 
by Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith.
Wiley-Blackwell, 216 pp., £14.99, December 2012, 978 0 470 65851 2
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... myth 30, for instance, one would be better off turning to James Shapiro’s Contested Will, or Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson’s collection, Shakespeare beyond Doubt.)* Nevertheless it means that their book is always alert, memorable and to the point. Come to think of it, Thirty Great Myths about Shakespeare is made up of sections exactly ...

Mulberrying

Andrew Gurr, 6 February 1986

Forms of Attention 
by Frank Kermode.
Chicago, 93 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 226 43168 1
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Shakespeare: A Writer’s Progress 
by Philip Edwards.
Oxford, 204 pp., £12.50, January 1986, 0 19 219184 5
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Shakespeare’s Lost Play: ‘Edmund Ironside’ 
edited by Eric Sams.
Fourth Estate, 383 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 947795 95 2
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Such is my love: A Study of Shakespeare’s Sonnets 
by Joseph Pequigney.
Chicago, 249 pp., £16.95, October 1985, 0 226 65563 6
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Shakespeare Survey 38: An Annual Survey of Shakespearian Study and Production 
edited by Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 262 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 521 32026 7
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The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama 
by Catherine Belsey.
Methuen, 253 pp., £13.95, September 1985, 0 416 32700 1
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... Like relics of the True Cross, there are said to be enough splinters to make an orchard from the mulberry tree planted by Shakespeare in his garden at New Place. The Shakespeare canon has excited nearly as much passion for tangible facts, however marginal to the true faith, as Holy Writ. Bits of venerated mulberry scattered around the world of believers are a salutary reminder that our passion for tangibility evokes more than just that irritable reaching after fact and reason that Keats declared to be the antithesis of Shakespeare ...

Brave as hell

John Kerrigan, 21 June 1984

Enderby’s Dark Lady, or No End to Enderby 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 160 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 09 156050 0
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Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Modern Edition 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Macmillan, 311 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 36386 8
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... the ithyphallic poet. This argument, initially so appealing, collapsed under scrutiny. Stanley Wells observed that Forman’s manuscript read ‘brave’ not ‘brown’, John Carey crisply noted that, if Emilia was Italian, Rosaline was French, and Mary Edmond established the true name of Lanier’s husband: Alfonso. In the new text only ...

Father-Daughter Problems

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare’s Bad Daughters, 8 May 2008

The Lodger: Shakespeare in Silver Street 
by Charles Nicholl.
Allen Lane, 378 pp., £20, November 2007, 978 0 7139 9890 0
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... as Mary’s dowry, and how much he promised to bequeath to her and her husband at his death. As Stanley Wells summarises the affair in the general introduction to the Oxford edition of Shakespeare, ‘in 1604 Shakespeare was lodging in north London with a Huguenot family called Mountjoy; in 1612 he was to testify in a court case relating to a marriage ...
... have also managed to neutralise much of what they show. Buildings like those of Lubetkin or Wells Coates, for instance, were presented as solutions, not creations, and to suggest, as the exhibition must, that other conventions have equal validity undermines the fragile logic that supported their simplicities. A fragment of a Rex Whistler ...

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