Sunday, October 4, 2015

Twenty Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare

E. Nesbit - Twenty Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare (1907)

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Shakespeare stories rewritten for younger readers by Edith Nesbit, author of Five Children and It, The Railway Children and numerous others that are still read today.  This is hardly the only Shakespeare book of this kind but it does have a nice design as can be seen from the pages below.  The real oddity, though, is the illustrations where the characters are all portrayed as children, which is mostly just peculiar though they run from the extremes of the humorously improbable forced trip into Arden Forest as a jaunty outing to the starting-to-get-creepy meeting of Romeo and Juliet.  I've only read bits of the stories but Nesbit really extracts a start-to-finish tale from the plays.  The Tempest, for instance, begins back in Milan and not on the island.  There are a few choices that today seem odd - Pericles and Timon of Athens in particular - though the selected plays are all the same that the Lambs did.

This is an expanded edition of the 1897 Children's Shakespeare, which had twelve plays.  Added are quotations, a pronunciation guide and a biography (not by Nesbit) but missing is her more informal introduction.  Both editions have been reprinted many times with varying titles