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Book Review:Everybody's Shakespeare: Compendium cum Dictionary of his Complete Works

Editors: Prof. Zamiruddin and Dr Farah Rehan
Publisher: Lighthouse Publications, Bhopal
Size of the book: 8x10 inches; pages 463
Year of Publication: 2013, issued 2014
Cost: Rs.750/- Entire sale proceeds will go to Slum Children

It is said that if language is debased, society, citizens and the country’s polity proportionately degenerate. The test of a nation’s greatness is integrally linked to the quality of language its citizens speak. The Elizabethan Age is considered to be the Golden Age of Great Britain not because of its adventures abroad, or for its planting newer colonies or its military pride in defeating the Spanish Armada, but because of its writers, dramatists, poets, and thinkers who glorified it through the English language whose golden period coincides with the glory of the Queen Elizabeth’s reign that symbolised the English nation. Of all those who enriched the English language, William Shakespeare stands head above shoulders to all the creative writers of the age. Though Shakespeare is admired as a great dramatist, it is a revelation that his plays are great because of the English language, or very simply because he was a poet first and a dramatist later—he was a dramatist by economic compulsions but was a poet by instinct and choice.
The editors of Everybody’s Shakespeare experienced the spark of his genius, exuberance of felicity, thrills of wonder and exaltation emanating from Shakespeare’s language that is full of poetic splendour, sensuous love of words, choice of phrases, aesthetic felicity of expression, and above all the literary polish. It is this richness of language that informs all his observations, experiences and comments upon life and man. The book offers a sumptuous feast of language and word magic; comprehensive judicious selections from Shakespeare’s plays and poems; memorable passages of striking poetic beauty and mundane and philosophical observations upon life and man prominently displayed ; pilot or lead words, drawn from the original text ,are placed against the relevant body of the text, in a separate galley for an easy and quick find; words with brief suggestive content, that constitute the Dictionary, are arranged in an alphabetical order with page numbers, and a list of compound words in an alphabetical order.
The book hopes to cater to a variety of approaches to Shakespeare: there is the first galley that provides the readers vast selections from the original text, with important passages in bold print; those who are curious to know what are his views and observations upon life and man and the human spiritual and mundane concerns, should look at the second galley and choosing the words go over to the dictionary section for reference; those who are looking for felicity of expression and word magic should use the dictionary directly to find their choice of words and subjects. But above all this, those who are keen to derive aesthetic pleasure from language and aim at enrichment and strengthening of their written and spoken English should read the book in its entirety. Students, teachers, and researchers will find it useful as a ready reckoner. But the editors claim that the dictionary is primarily dedicated to the connoisseurs of language— beautiful and poetic language that was his Cleopatra.
Mr Khushwant Singh, writing in his distinguished column has aid: If you do not know about Shakespeare, you dont’ know the English language. He was as great a playwright as he was a poet. If you want to know more about him, I recommend” Everybody’s Shakespeare” compendium cum dictionary of the complete works for students, teachers and connoisseurs of languages, edited by Zamiruddin of Bhopal. It is a fat book of over 400 pages, but it does give you all the information you want to know about the man and his works.

The book can be obtained at all good bookstalls and also directly from the editors at a vast discount.

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Ashfaq Ahmad

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Madhya Pradesh ,  INDIA

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