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Bardisms: Shakespeare for all Occasions    by Barry Edelstein order for
by Barry Edelstein
Order:  USA  Can
Collins, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Do you often find phrases from Shakespeare running through your mind - like 'to be, or not to be'; 'Double, double, toil and trouble'; 'Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?' If, like me, you also have trouble recalling a relevant quote when you're searching for one, look no further than Barry Edelstein's Bardisms: Shakespeare for all Occasions.

Edelstein is noted for his direction of the bard's plays all over the United States, including New York's Shakespeare in the Park summer series. Telling us that the playwright's words are 'pitch-perfect for all occasions', he organizes for readers 'Wonderful Words from the Bard on Life's Big Moments (and Some Small Ones, Too) Plus Tips on How to Use Them in a Toast, Speech, or Letter'.

After his Prologue and Instructions ('distilled from the basic principles of Shakespearian acting'), Edelstein covers (chapter by chapter) Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man (Infant, Schoolboy, Lover, Soldier, Middle Years, Old Age, and End of Life), with apt quotes taking us from birth to oblivion. Edelstein adds extensive commentary to each Shakespearian extract, including In Other Words (a modern English version); How to Say It or How to Use It (tips on effective speech or writing); and/or Some Details (intriguing historical or literary insights).

So, what are some of these 'bite-sized quotes for the out-sized human occasion'? Along with the familiar ('Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?') I found many that were new to me, such as this on reputation (from Richard II): 'The purest treasure mortal times afford / Is spotless reputation; that away, / Men are but gilded loam, or painted clay.'

Barry Edelstein guides us into thinking - and quoting- Shakespeare - in all seasons and for all situations. He even has one for Global Warming (from A Midsummer Night's Dream): 'The seasons alter ... / The spring, the summer, / The chiding autumn, angry winter change / Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world / By their increase now knows not which is which.' Bardisms is a great volume to include in your home library - mine will be well thumbed.

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