Tales from Shakespeare


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But this fault, if it be a fault, has been caused by an earnest wish to give as much of Shakespeare's own words as possible: and if the "He said" and "She said," the question and the reply, should sometimes seem tedious to their young ears, they must pardon it, because it was the only way in which could be given to them a few hints and little foretastes of the great pleasure which awaits them in their elder years, when they come to the rich treasures from which these small and valueless coins are extracted; pretending to no other merit than as faint and imperfect stamps of Shakespeare's matchless image.

Faint and imperfect images they must be called, because the beauty of his language is too frequently destroyed by the necessity of changing many of his excellent words into words far less expressive of his true sense, to make it read something like prose; and even in some few places, where his blank verse is given unaltered, as hoping from its simple plainness to cheat the young readers into the belief that they are reading prose, yet still his language being transplanted from its own natural soil and wild poetic garden, it must want much of its native beauty.

It has been wished to make these Tales easy reading for very young children.


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To the utmost of their ability the writers have constantly kept this in mind; but the subjects of most of them made this a very difficult task. It was no easy matter to give the histories of men and women in terms familiar to the apprehension of a very young mind. When time and leave of judicious friends shall put them into their hands, they will discover in such of them as are here abridged not to mention almost as many more, which are left untouched many surprising events and turns of fortune, which for their infinite variety could not be contained in this little book, besides a world of sprightly and cheerful characters, both men and women, the humor of which it was feared would be lost if it were attempted to reduce the length of them.

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What these Tales shall have been to the young readers, that and much more it is the writers' wish that the true Plays of Shakespeare may prove to them in older years—enrichers of the fancy, strengtheners of virtue, a withdrawing from all selfish and mercenary thoughts, a lesson of all sweet and honorable thoughts d actions, to teach courtesy, benignity, generosity, humanity: for of examples, teaching these virtues, his pages are full.

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Tales from Shakespeare

Literature for Children by Orton Lowe. Invisible Helpers by Charles Webster Leadbeater. Cymbeline by William Shakespeare. Nature Myths and Stories by Flora J. The Works of Oliver Goldsmith, M.

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Bigelow Vol. Shakespeare by William Shakespeare.

Shakspeare Gems by William Shakespeare. This I assert with the more confidence, as I doubt not that Lamb himself would have abounded in the same opinion. His edition of the Lambs therefore strongly resembles his editions of Shakespeare, complete with introductions, footnotes, and a biography of Shakespeare. In line with contemporary scholarship, he also makes it clear which passages were not considered to have been written by Shakespeare, for example in Timon of Athens and Pericles.

However, Furnivall never explains why he has produced an edition of the Lambs rather than an edition of Shakespeare. This is especially bewildering given his determination to provide the reader with summaries of passages that the Lambs have omitted, as his assumption seems to be that an unabridged text is preferable. Since its publication in the names of Charles and Mary Lamb have increasingly been held up alongside that of Shakespeare as markers of cultural legitimacy.

Morris , Arthur Quiller-Couch , and Thomas Carter each published collections of retellings of the plays not adapted by the Lambs. Morris is particularly self-deprecating:.

While of a necessity these sixteen additional plays, here included, must come into comparison with the inimitable tales of Elia and his gifted sister, yet it has been a source of disquietude for the writer that his purpose may be misapprehended, that he may be thought to invite such a contrast, or that he deems his imperfect continuation as in any wise worthy of a place beside the versions made by the Lambs. Likewise, both Carter and Quiller-Couch acknowledge the pre-eminence of the Lambs, apologize lest they be seen as trying to imitate or surpass them, and insist that they are merely filling in the gaps by retelling those plays which the Lambs did not.

But why is it still being sold today? Is it what I should have been given to read in the mid-twentieth century? Should we expect a book, published in , that is a retelling, not an original work of literature, still to talk to the twentieth-century child? Morris states this explicitly:.

But coupled with this was a desire to supplement the uncompleted work of Charles and Mary Lamb, not with tales the equal of their own in grace, wisdom, or critical penetration, but with such as at least may be accepted as a help to that part of Shakspeare, and no unimportant part it is, left untouched by the original authors [my emphasis].

These twenty-first-century editions of Tales from Shakespeare therefore rarely attempt to appeal directly to an implied child reader in their paratextual material.

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Tales from Shakespeare by Charles Lamb, Mary Lamb | Waterstones

Instead, they target the older Shakespeare fan with illustrations of recognisable scenes from known illustrators and endorsements and prefaces from Shakespeare celebrities. Naomi J. Miller, London, Routledge, , p. Miller, op.

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