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Shakespeare & Co.    by Stanley Wells order for
Shakespeare & Co.
by Stanley Wells
Order:  USA  Can
Pantheon, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

As a university instructor of literature, I am always looking for new books about William Shakespeare that achieve the important but elusive delicate balance between rigorous scholarship (essential for credibility within the academic research community) and accessibility (indispensable for meaningful use by most undergraduates in the classroom environment).

Shakespeare & Co., the latest book by noted Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells, achieves that necessary symmetry and reliability.

By looking at Shakespeare within his professional contexts, Wells gives readers important perspectives that will remain useful for further examination of Shakespeare's works.

First, Wells introduces readers to the theatrical scene in Elizabethan and Jacobean London; then readers are able to more closely examine Shakespeare's involvement in that scene, especially as it relates to his roles as actor, playwright, and investor; from here, Wells moves on to 'sketch the shifting reputations and lasting achievements' of Shakespeare's fellow playwrights (Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Fletcher, John Webster, and others).

While much of this information is available separately elsewhere, Wells provides a superb service by synthesizing and harmonizing the information in one single volume; more significantly, Wells' insightful and entertaining explorations of the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatrical world give readers an improved insight into just how the poet from Stratford was able to achieve remarkable 'singularity as the greatest writer in the English language.'

Shakespeare & Co. - now having earned a permanent place on my bookshelf - is intriguing, dynamic, and most highly recommended.

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