A riveting primer on the work many deem Shakespeare’s greatest.
Hamlet is “the single most important work in constructing who we are, especially in how we understand our psychological, intellectual, and emotional beings,” writes Hunt (English/North Carolina State Univ.), because it “enacts a radical and unprecedented internalization of reality.” (Reading it, Dostoevsky heard “the groaning of the whole numbed universe.”) Using as a springboard Hamlet’s famous remark from Act II Scene ii, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” Hunt convincingly argues that both the play and Shakespeare’s most enigmatic character have figured largely in how subsequent cultures have defined themselves through their interpretations of this drama, which brought some 600 new words into the English language. The author also supplies the tragedy’s history, showing that the story of Hamlet originated with 12th-century Danish historian Saxo the Grammarian and was first popularized in Shakespeare’s day by François de Belleforest and perhaps Thomas Kyd. Hunt discusses the significant variations among the three Shakespearean versions: the first and second quartos of 1603 (Q1) and 1604/5 (Q2), as well as the First Folio (F1) of 1623, which appeared seven years after the Bard’s death. Hunt’s comparison of Q1 and Q2 yields a beautiful close reading of Hamlet’s character, and his controversial view that F1 follows Q1 more closely than Q2 makes even a Shakespeare novice appreciate just what’s at stake in the editorial decisions surrounding any modern edition.
With its astute analysis of major issues within the play, accessible overview of the history of their interpretation and a reading of contemporary criticism sure to set alight a few rooms in the ivory tower of Shakespearean studies, Hunt’s work offers something for casual readers as well as literary scholars.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)