Gary Taylor Reinventing Shakespeare: A Cultural History from the Restoration to the Present.
Weidenfeid & Nicolson, 461 pages, $29.95

Emerging from vast textual corvées, including the joint editorship of editions of Shakespeare’s Works in the original and in modernized spelling, Gary Taylor must be not only a man of great industry but one who knows something about his author.

It is perhaps understandable that a young textual scholar who has been involved in such labors should hanker after some more reckless employment, “beyond the intellectual enclosure of Shakespeare specialists.” Taylor was so moved that his publisher can describe Reinventing Shakespeare as “bold, provocative, irreverent.” “Who was Shakespeare, and is he really as great as everyone says?” It is still the publisher haranguing us, and the reply can...

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