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The Rough Guide to Shakespeare, By Andrew Dickson

There's nothing rough at all about this confident and readable guide to plays, poems and author from a young critic who matches energy and erudition with truly Elizabethan zest. From the "special intensity and charm" of All's Well That Ends Well through Measure for Measure (that "unsettling comedy of sex in the city") to the "almost mythical resolution" of The Winter's Tale, Dickson's play-by-play survey combines sound accounts of plot, stage history, critical debate and screen adaptations with striking photos, illuminating interviews (from the likes of Simon Russell Beale, Ian McKellen and Zoe Wanamaker) and up-to-date bibliographies. A stylish cockade in the Rough Guides' cap, this is a must-own volume that Bard veterans and apprentices alike will punish - and reward - with daily use.