Me and Shakespeare: Life-Changing Adventures with the Bard Hardcover – Apr 30 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
This is a thoroughly engaging account of one man's late-life passion and his attempts, mainly successful, at pitching it to others. At age 67, having retired after a long and distinguished career in publishing, Gollob surprised himself and everyone around him by parlaying his recently acquired fanaticism for the Bard into a position teaching Shakespeare at an elder hostel. The conversion experience had come when Gollob witnessed Ralph Fiennes's acclaimed 1995 Broadway performance in Hamlet. Gollob had already recovered his Jewish roots, having had a bar-mitzvah in middle age; combining his two passions, he began to make connections between the Torah and Shakespeare. After several terms as a popular instructor, Gollob decided he needed to go back to school and enrolled in a short course on Shakespeare at Oxford, where he was so taken with his studies that he quotes big sections of his term paper (a Judaic reading of King Lear) and notes that even though he far exceeds the 15-minute limit for oral reports, his teacher exclaims that she was too rapt by his presentation to interrupt. Gollob fails to distinguish the various voices in his overearnest dialogue, and he has the autodidact's habit of proclaiming as original discoveries that have been generally accepted by scholars for years. But his enthusiasm for his subject is infectious describing a pub meal with fellow Oxford scholars following an eye-opening morning of research, he asks, "Was that the happiest moment of my life or what?" and his boyish zeal comes across as a call to arms to all readers who've ever contemplated changing their lives.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Inviting the reader to share in his personal quest, Gollob details his obsession with Shakespeare. An editor for such publishing houses as Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Little, Brown, Gollob left his work behind to chase down the Bard after seeing a Broadway production of Hamlet starring Ralph Fiennes. Here, he offers detailed inside views of the publishing world, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the newly constructed Globe Theater, an Oxford University course on Shakespeare, and a host of actors, directors, and assorted celebrities. His insights and discoveries on all things Shakespearean are sharp and well considered, and his take on Hamlet is particularly revealing of himself and of the text. Gollob is a man in love with books, indeed one who has spent a lifetime involved with books; that love and knowledge are present on every page. While some of his adventures are more interesting than others, his excitement about his journey is addictive. The result is a unique book dense with living and learning. Recommended for all public libraries. Neal Wyatt, Chesterfield Cty. P.L., VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
But only one reviewer so far has mentioned how useful the book is in giving a layman's guide to some of the scholarly and popular critical literature on the plays. I enjoyed Gollob's brief descriptions of one old favorite (Goddard) and of many books that were new to me, and that I've now tracked down.
Many of these books are mentioned in Chapter 1, but others pop up throughout the book as Gollob talks about the individual plays. He devotes most thought to the tragedies and the "Roman plays." The English histories -- particularly Henry V -- that I conclude Gollob doesn't find them very interesting. Eh, to each his own.
Gollob also includes interesting tidbits from interviews or meetings he arranged over time with various Shakespeare luminaries: Richard Kuhta (librarian at the Folger), Patrick Spottiswoode (director of education at the new Globe), John Barton (famed Royal Shakespeare Company Director), others.
And speaking of John Barton: I'm grateful to this book for introducing me to Playing Shakespeare, a very expensive ($1000+ !) early-1980s video series with Barton and RSC actors (Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, many others) thinking through how to perform roles and solve various acting challenges. There's also a book that transcribes much (all?) of the series: Playing Shakespeare: An Actor's Guide, by John Barton (ISBN 0385720858). Until I win the lottery, I'll have to stick with that.
I've seen elsewhere that a similar-sounding (and similarly pricy) new series, Working Shakespeare, is due out in the U.S. in April 2004, featuring actors like Jeremy Irons and Samuel L. Jackson. Maybe Amazon will someday carry it.
For a person nearing retirement, it's fascinating to see what some people do with their lives after full-time paid employment ends. After I retire, I plan to read all the great works of literature I've missed so far, and Shakespeare is on my list.
Gollob (he must hate it that so many people can't bother to spell his name correctly) took "Shakespeare in Love" far too seriously. After all, it was a romantic comedy. It was supposed to be fun! His criticisms of its historical inaccuracies is like criticizing Shakespeare for his witches and fairies.
Gollob is a little too full of himself at times, but he must have loved writing this book and gently bragging about his achievements and the famous people he's bumped against over the years.
The memoir, however, does not slide off into the merely autobiographical. No matter how self-involved Mr. Gollob's tangents, he is tenacious in returning to the matter at hand. Throughout the course of the book, the reader investigates with Mr. Gollob, the plays, the sonnets, the new Globe, acting classes, the Folger, various scholary works, Oxford and pubs. The dedicated amateur is not limited by the pressures of thesis or reputation and Mr. Gollob transitions merrily and unrepentantly from topic to topic.
The book is not as disjointed as the style suggests. There is an overriding theme of rejuvenation as one grows older. Mr. Gollob uses his own personal thesis about Shakespeare and Judaism as a binding thread throughout the narrative. There is order and method to his superficially gregarious and haphazard appearance.
The thesis is intensely personal. Mr. Gollob is an amateur and has the amateur's enthusiastic desire to recreate Shakespeare in his own image. This is not a portrait of Shakespeare as an ordinary Elizabethean with a remarkable gift for writing. Yet even scholars have a difficult time accepting this version of Shakespeare (which I do believe to be the most accurate one). We want Shakespeare to be like us, to be as universal as his genius, to be as open to interpretation as his plays. We want his imagination to be based in something more concrete and accessible than the pure imagination of a hard-working writer. In this context, Mr.Read more ›
I probably would have enjoyed Gollob's book if he had spent more time writing about his lectures on Shakespeare-condensing his material into a reasonably erudite set of essays as other professors have done before him. I am interested in Shakespeare (why I bought the book). Instead, he offers a few tantalizing bits and then rambles on all over the place. Where ever he goes, be it the theater, the classroom, the bookstore, or a hotel in Oxford, he seems to feel compelled to identify and comment on the people present. I almost had the sense that Mary, Bob, Anne and the others were going to be looking for their names in print and he was determined to oblige them.
He also mentions at least 50 times that he is an Aggie fan from Texas, that he did not like his mother, and that he thinks Shakespeare got many of his ideas from the Bible. Okay already, the Bible was a big deal in Shakespeare's England as anyone who has studied the Elizabethan age knows. The Elizabethans were early English Protestants whose whole approach was "back to basics." Elizabeth's successor James had the Bible translated from Latin into English.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
As a Shakespeare enthusiast and writer, I completely enjoyed all aspects of this book. Gollob honestly shares his passion of Shakespeare and his personal history, both are... Read morePublished on Nov. 13 2003 by Craig Stephans
I bought this book after sighting it in a competitor store where I felt it was overpriced. My Amazon. Read morePublished on June 26 2003 by Michael Ziegler
After reading "Me and Shakespeare" I feel as if Herman Gollob is an old friend. As a fellow auto-didact I can relate so well to all tat he has written. Read morePublished on June 26 2002 by Robert Franklin
Yes, the author is a bit self-involved: the title, remember, is "Me and Shakespeare" not "Shakespeare and Me". Read morePublished on June 25 2002
When I saw author Herman Gollob interviewed on PBS' Newshour, I was so impressed, I impulse ordered the book. TILT! Read morePublished on June 17 2002 by Richard Piro
I have to say that this book is an outrageous example of solopsism, written by one of the most self-engaged individuals imaginable. Read morePublished on June 5 2002
This is a powerful read, obviously about Shakespeare, as mentioned in above reviews, but as significantly, about a man's courage and willingness to change. Read morePublished on May 30 2002 by Jon D. Katz
The wonderfully unique book is best appreciated if you are Jewish, a senior citizen and/or a Shakespeare buff. Read morePublished on May 27 2002 by John Knight