These tales are the perfect introduction to Shakespeare's greatest plays. Charles and Mary Lamb vividly bring to life the power of Hamlet and Othello, the fun of As You Like It and the drama of Pericles. They never lose the feel of his beautiful language and humanity and convey all of his wit and wisdom. These tales are classic literature in their own right.
The Work of the World’s Greatest Dramatist
A great way to enjoy twenty of Shakespeare’s timeless plays, this volume is a retelling of the stories in prose by the famous nineteenth-century brother and sister Charles and Mary Lamb. Keeping Shakespeare’s own words whenever possible but making the plots and language easily accessible, this entertaining and readable collection has enthralled both children and adults ever since it first appeared in 1807. Here Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies and comedies come to life. Defined by moving drama, vivid action, great wit, or fantastic imagination, each play comes alive with charm and clarity for readers of any age—as a helpful preface to the original Elizabethan version or even as enriching, unforgettable stories in themselves.
With an Introduction by Susan J. Wolfson and an Afterword by Sylvan Barnet, general editor of the Signet Classic Shakespeare series.
"What these tales shall have been to the young readers," Charles Lamb wrote, "that and much more it is the writers' wish that the true plays of Shakespeare may prove to them in older years — enrichers of the fancy, strengtheners of virtue, a withdrawing from all selfish and mercenary thoughts, a lesson of all sweet and honorable thoughts and actions. To teach courtesy, benignity, generosity, humanity: for of examples, teaching these virtues, his pages are full."
Simple and compelling, these vibrant retellings of the great playwright's timeless tales will undoubtedly charm readers of all ages.
- THE TEMPEST
- A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
- THE WINTER'S TALE
- MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
- AS YOU LIKE IT
- THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA
- THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
- KING LEAR
- ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
- THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
- THE COMEDY OF ERRORS
- MEASURE FOR MEASURE
- TWELFTH NIGHT; OR, WHAT YOU WILL
- TIMON OF ATHENS
- ROMEO AND JULIET
- HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK
- PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE.
In those tales which have been taken from the Tragedies, the young readers will perceive, when they come to see the source from which these stories are derived, that Shakespeare's own words, with little alteration, recur very frequently in the narrative as well as in the dialogue; but in those made from the Comedies the writers found themselves scarcely ever able to turn his words into the narrative form: therefore it is feared that, in them, dialogue has been made use of too frequently for young people not accustomed to the dramatic form of writing. But this fault, if it be a fault, has been caused by an earnest wish to give as much of Shakespeare's own words as possible: and if the 'He said,' and 'She said,' the question and the reply, should sometimes seem tedious to their young ears, they must pardon it, because it was the only way in which could be given to them a few hints and little foretastes of the great pleasure which awaits them in their elder years, when they come to the rich treasures from which these small and valueless coins are extracted; pretending to no other merit than as faint and imperfect stamps of Shakespeare's matchless image. Faint and imperfect images they must be called, because the beauty of his language is too frequently destroyed by the necessity of changing many of his excellent words into words far less expressive of his true sense, to make it read something like prose; and even in some few places, where his blank verse is given unaltered, as hoping from its simple plainness to cheat the young reader into the belief that they are reading prose, yet still his language being transplanted from its own natural soil and wild poetic garden, it must want much of its native beauty.
It has been wished to make these Tales easy reading for very young children. To the utmost of their ability the writers have constantly kept this in mind; but the subjects of most of them made this a very difficult task. It was no easy matter to give the histories of men and women in terms familiar to the apprehension of a very young mind. For young ladies too, it has been the intention chiefly to write; because boys being generally permitted the use of their fathers' libraries at a much earlier age than girls are, they frequently have the best scenes of Shakespeare by heart, before their sisters are permitted to look into this manly book; and, therefore, instead of recommending these Tales to the perusal of young gentlemen who can read them so much better in the originals, their kind assistance is rather requested in explaining to their sisters such parts as are hardest for them to understand: and when they have helped them to get over the difficulties, then perhaps they will read to them (carefully selecting what is proper for a young sister's ear) some passage which has pleased them in one of these stories, in the very words of the scene from which it is taken; and it is hoped they will find that the beautiful extracts, the select passages..