Perfect for the Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2016 “First Folio!” tour celebrating the book’s 400th anniversary.

SHAKESPEARE'S FIRST FOLIO

FOUR CENTURIES OF AN ICONIC BOOK

A biography of the most valuable English-language book in the world.

The famous First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays exists thanks to two of the Bard’s fellow actors who pulled it all together seven years after his death. Nearly 1,000 pages long, it took two years to print, and when it went on sale, in 1623, it sold for 1 pound; buyers had to bind it themselves. The first printing was a bullish 750 copies. What happened next is what Smith (English/Hertford Coll., Oxford; The Making of Shakespeare’s First Folio, 2016, etc.) is most interested in: the book as cultural object. Who bought it, and why, and what did they do with it? Smith has traveled the globe to track down copies in order to write her “biblio-biography,” an “attempt to reconstruct the history of one particular book…how that book moved through time, space and, context.” Focusing first on the topic of “owning,” with its individual, cultural, and national desires, she traces in detail the movements of three specific Folios. After passing through various hands, one ended up in Henry Folger’s incredible library/museum (along with 81 others). A second ended up at a Japanese university, and the third went to Oxford’s Bodleian Library in 1624, was sold to a collector, and then came back thanks to fundraising efforts. In the “reading” section, Smith analyzes the range of marks and marginalia made early on in the Folios when they were a “real reading text,” as well as “early female engagement with the book.” “Decoding” is an intriguing look at the intense scholarly scrutiny Folios have generated, including a foray into the possibility of secret codes within textual irregularities. The final two sections deal with the use of Folios in the theater and “perfecting” the Folio: facsimiles, forgeries, and digital reproduction. It’s academic, yes, but thoroughly delightful for bibliophiles and Shakespeare lovers.

Perfect for the Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2016 “First Folio!” tour celebrating the book’s 400th anniversary.

Pub Date: June 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-19-875436-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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