literary handbooks are an englishist’s best friend

Chapter

Sep 06 2012

Gold Tape

^ the jane austen pocket bible by holly ivins and the essential shakespeare handbook by leslie dunton-downer and alan riding

as an englishist i am often overwhelmed. it is difficult subject for choosing where to begin. or end. even reading one author’s complete works is not conclusive – it is not only about the plays or novels or poetry, but also their context. therefore, i have developed a penchant for handbooks. so far i have two. the essential shakespeare handbook goes play-by-play (the only circumstance in which i will ever use the term “play-by-play”), providing summary, background, line statistics, and theatrical history, and the jane austen pocket bible (a present from my close friend and mentor) includes information on the events and characters of austen’s six novels as well as her life. i use them for reference and background and the occasional (one-sided, unfortunately) hug. 

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