Shakespeare Illustrated

As president and artistic director of the award-winning Shakespeare & Company, which she founded in 1978, Tina Packer has spent most of her adult life immersed in the works of the immortal Bard. And what a storyteller she turns out to be.

In "Tales from Shakespeare," she offers 10 of his most popular and resonant works in condensed prose form. But these are no mere Cliff's Notes. Packer weaves richly poetic, atmospheric tales that summon the heart of each play. Her vivid description, keen wit, and sharp insight bring Shakespeare's major themes into clear relief, themes that have challenged and amazed readers for more than 400 years.

All of these retellings are enlivened with some of Shakespeare's most memorable dialogue, spurring the plots with the Bard's own extraordinary wordplay.

She also offers psychological and historical perspective along the way that will be valuable to students and experienced theater-goers. And her introduction, which includes history and analysis, paints a valuable picture of Shakespeare's life and times. It serves as an instructive primer on the Bard's expansive embrace of the world, drawing parallels to his day and our own time.

Lush, vibrant illustrations, by such acclaimed artists as Leo and Diane Dillon, Mary GrandPre, Barry Moser, and David Shannon, make this oversize book as attractive to look at as it is satisfying to read.

The true legacy of the Bard's plays is to make us see ourselves, to see the world, and to act," Packer asserts. "For to think deeply about things, to ponder and reflect and then laugh and play, is the essence of life."

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