Shelving Shakespeare


Not all books about Shakespeare are created equal. The motifs and subject matter vary to such a degree that would tax the very soul even the more seasoned librarian. We are familiar with the books that treat the great playwright as the subject matter; these are very easy to catalog, shelve them under biography and be done with it. But these are only the tip of the iceberg.

I bring this up because one of my weekend goals is to gather all my books that have “Shakespeare” in the title and give them a proper shelving. Right now they are scattered here and there with little rhyme or reason. That’s not to say I haven’t made past attempts to shelve them in some orderly fashion. I’ve got most of the books that deal with Hamlet on a nightstand, and my many editions of the 37 plays have been assigned to their own bookshelf which is sadly over crowded and is in terrible disarray. My Arden and Folger editions are fighting for space, while my Yale Complete Works and First Folio smugly look down from their top spot.

How shall we find the concord of this discord? (MSND)

I have books on the authorship question, books on the heavier themes found in the plays such as death and madness, and books that look at the cultural and political settings of Shakespeare’s world(s). Let’s not forget the lighter side too: Shakespeare’s Bawdy and Shakespeare’s Mythical Creatures are hidden between intro to Shakespeare books. Then there are the dictionaries and quotation books, which one would assume would go under the reference heading until you realize all of these books about the Bard are, in one way or another, reference books. I may be over thinking this a bit…

How well he’s read, to reason against reading! (LLL)

You’d think I would refrain from bringing any more books into this fray until I’ve sorted out my problem. In this you would be wrong. Just yesterday I received Cocktails for your everyday Dramas Shakespeare Not Stirred by Caroline Bicks and Michelle Ephraim. While officially a recipe book, there is enough Shakespeare tidbits and trivia to qualify as a reference guide. It is a fun book, not so much to enlighten but to lighten up your mood. How can you not help but giggle at chapters like, Shall I Campari to a Summer’s Day? and Get Thee to a Winery: Girl’s Night Out. The photographs (courtesy of the Folger’s Library) alone are reason enough to see to it that this book doesn’t get forgotten between Shakespeare’s Kitchen and The Skinny Bitch Diet (yes, Shakespeare has even found his way into my cookbook shelf).

My library was dukedom large enough (TT)

The scholarly books seem easy enough. Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human should be near Margorie Garber’s Shakespeare and the Modern Culture as should be Becoming Shakespeare and Shakespeare in America, all dealing with the many ways in which Shakespeare shaped our culture, and to a lesser degree, how we shaped Shakespeare to our liking. But it takes a little bit of mental gymnastics to place William Shakespeare’s Star Wars in this mix.

Good wine is a familiar creature, if it be well used (O)

The smart thing to do would be to make up vague sub-genres and go from there. Or I could just alphabetize them by author or group them by color and make them part of my décor. But it occurred to me on this rainy Saturday that the really fun thing( and possibly sensibly) to do would be to whip up a batch of Rosalind’s Gender Blender and let the problem sort its self out.

                        Rosalind’s Gender Blender

                        2 oz vodka

                        ½ cup lemon sorbet

                        ½ cup frozen raspberries

                        ½ cup frozen blueberries

                        ¼ cup simple syrup

                        ¼ cup white wine

                                 Fresh Blueberries for garnish

In a blender, puree the vodka, lemon sorbet, frozen berries, simple syrup,     and white wine until pink and blue become a purple blur. Pour into heavy wineglass or goblet and top with fresh blueberries.                     

This is the first in a 2016 series in which I attempt to incorporate into a blog post, and or review, many of my Bard related books.

Works cited

Bicks, Caroline and Ephraim, Michelle: Cocktails for your everyday Dramas Shakespeare Not Stirred
Shakespeare, William: Love’s Labor Lost, Midsummer’s Night Dream, Othello, The Tempest

Author: sarij

I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.

4 thoughts on “Shelving Shakespeare”

  1. Well, how timely, I was mentally composing a post of the shelving of books and along comes yours! Though mine would be a little more diffuse a discussion, mainly due to woolier thinking … Anyway, enjoyed this, lots of food for thought, and looking forward to the promised future posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Chris. Great minds think a like and all that. I do hope you post a blog about shelving. I may learn a thing or two. Once I have the project in order I may post a picture. Though so far all of this has led me to wanting a new glass door shelve.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. While my Shakespeare activity for the year will be to read more of the plays. I would tell you how few I’ve read, but then you would scorn me as the dimmest of apes, a fool who mouths words he cannot understand. It helps that my wall calendar features art drawn from Shakespeare’s plays every month, which means I HAVE to read those plays in those months.

    Oh, and I will have to tackle “Vortigern” this year.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I promise, I will not think less of you if you promise not to think less of me when I tell you that I only know Vortigern from Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave series.
    Looking forward to a post from you in which you enlighten us about the mythical (?) king.

    Liked by 1 person

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