A sparkling, insightful exploration of Shakespeare’s words and world.



How Shakespeare understood women.

The founding artistic director of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts, Packer (Tales from Shakespeare, 2004, etc.) brings 40 years of experience as a director and actor to her invigorating examination of Shakespeare’s women. Her fascination with these roles inspired her to create a one-woman performance piece, followed by a two-actor piece, five plays and, finally, this book. At present, she has relinquished the directorship of Shakespeare & Company to tour in Women of Will with her acting partner, Nigel Gore. Packer sees a clear spiritual growth, reflected in his female characters, as Shakespeare matured, fell in love and experienced loss. His understanding and empathy, she believes, was shaped by his own experience as an actor, which afforded him “a whole knowing of body, mind, spirit, and sound.” The young writer who created the volatile, ultimately submissive Kate in Taming of the Shrew had a far different understanding of women’s desires, sexuality and craving for power than the older playwright who created the complex Desdemona, Cleopatra and Gertrude. From the Dark Lady addressed in his sonnets, writes Packer, he developed an uncommon empathy and was “able to understand the bind that an intelligent, creative, sexually desirous woman was in—and he started to write in her voice.” Women, he realized, “speak the truth at their peril.” Both Desdemona and Emilia die in Othello, a play Packer thinks is more about sexism than race; Ophelia, who speaks uncomfortable truths not only about Hamlet, but the whole royal family, kills herself; Hermione, in The Winter’s Tale, “dies because she is simply what she is—truthful, committed, generous, caring.” Throughout the book, Packer digresses in engaging, articulate interludes: about Shakespeare’s life between 1587 and 1594, a period crucial to his emotional development; about her visceral and intellectual response to inhabiting men’s roles; about the connection of language to the body.

A sparkling, insightful exploration of Shakespeare’s words and world.

Pub Date: April 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-307-70039-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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