Tales from Shakespeare

Given the frequent allusions to madness in the works of Shakespeare, it is perhaps rather apt that the most famous miniature versions of the bardís stories should have been put together by a brother and sister whose lives were dominated by acts of insanity. Mary Lamb in such a lapse of reason killed their mother and Charles was mentally deranged for some time 1795-6, leaving him in fear for his mind until his death in 1834. Although there are a number of other works by Charles, such as The Tale of Rosamund Gray and Old Blind Margaret from 1798 and Mrs Leicesterís School in 1807 which Mary had a major part in writing, the Tales From Shakespeare (1807) remain his most famous achievement. The tales are in fact like an inversion of the process by which Shakespeare took his stories from Holinshed, Spenser and others. Charles and Mary Lamb simplify the stories of Shakespeareís major plays for the consumption of children primarily, although they do serve as useful and brief introductions for the uninitiated adult also. They do not cover all of the bardís output, the history cycles particularly notable by their absence (the Henrys). Serious students of Shakespeare may be advised to refresh their memories with the originals, however, since the Lambs do tend to miss out crucial elements of plot to make the stories palatable for the young.

Table of contents
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
Twelfth Night; or, What You Will
Timon of Athens
Romeo and Juliet
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Pericles, Prince of Tyre

  By PanEris using Melati.

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