Shakespeare for the wiser sort

Solving Shakespeare's riddles in The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, King John, 1-2 Henry IV, The Merchant of Venice, Henry V, Julius Caesar, Othello, Macbeth, and Cymbeline

By Steve Sohmer

Shakespeare for the wiser sort

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7667-1
  • Pages: 208
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: October 2007
  • BIC Category: Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800, Literature & literary studies / Shakespeare studies & criticism, LITERARY CRITICISM / Shakespeare, PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism, Literary studies: general, Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literature, Early Modern Literature


William Shakespeare's plays are riddled with passages, scenes and sudden plot twists which baffle and confound the most devoted playgoer and the most attentive commentator. Why, for example, didn't Hamlet succeed to the throne of Denmark at the instant of his father's death? (It's not because the Danish throne was elective.) Why does Chorus in Romeo and Juliet promise his audience 'two houres trafficke of our stage' when the play obviously runs almost three hours? How is it that Old Hamlet sent his son to school in (Protestant) Wittenberg but his Ghost was sent to (Catholic) Purgatory? and is there cause-and-effect here? How can Lancelot Gobbo be correct (and he is) when he claims Black Monday (the day after Easter) and Ash Wednesday (the 41st day before Easter) once fell on the same day? And what is a 'dram of eale'? This engaging and lucid book solves these tantalizing riddles and many others.


1. '. to please the wiser sort.': Shakespeare's other (smarter) audience
2. 'Doubt thou the starres are fire ..': the new philosophy in Hamlet
3. 'The time is out of joint': Queen Elizabeth's calendar muddle
4. Shakespeare's time-riddles in Romeo and Juliet solved
5. 'Two and fortie houres': did Shakespeare know Bandello?
6. Disrobing images: Shakespeare rewrites the Holy Ghost
7. The 'double time' crux in Othello solved
8. 'Who's there?': the men behind the masks of Falstaff, Faulconbridge, Lamord, and Hamlet


Steve Sohmer is Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford and a Research Associate at the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)

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