Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Oxford Shakespeare Illustrated Dictionary (Oxford University Press)

I like to convince myself that I am a fan of Shakespeare. I've read Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Othello, Hamlet, and The Tempest. I've seen plays, seen movies, have kid-friendly Shakespeare books, and even have a DVD Catholic Course on Shakespeare. In reality, I don't understand as much of The Bard as I would like to. When I do read his works, some of the phrases confuse me and unless there are footnotes explaining what confuses me, I am stumped! Luckily, Oxford University Press knows there's people like me an has produced an Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary.

The book is divided out like a normal dictionary with alphabetical sections. There are then 4000+ entries of different Shakespearean words, their meanings, and a quote and reference on what play the particular entry can be found in. There are also numerous notes sprinkled throughout the pages, which talk about history, society, and insight on how Shakespeare used the language. The bulk of the illustrations are in the middle of the book and are broken out by topics like armour, weapons, clothing, animals, colours, etc.

What I found most helpful is that common words, you already associate with one definition have a warning, so that you don't just assume you know a word and skip over it. For example, scorch has nothing to do with burning something, but instead slicing it. The only drawback to this book is that it is not comprehensive, but instead covers Shakespeare's twelve most popular books. If I'm being realistic though, that is just not possible, because it would be too massive. Overall, this is a useful book for high school students, college students, teachers, and fans of Shakespeare, who wish they knew more.

This book was provided to me for free by Oxford University Press in exchange for an honest review.