Review of "Bardisms: Shakespeare for All Occasions" by Barry Edelstein

1:03 PM

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Harper (April 7, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061493511
ISBN-13: 978-0061493515

Description (Publisher Website)
William Shakespeare's plays and poetry make up a vast repository of wit and wisdom, of insight and passion. For the momentous events in our lives—the ones that call for some memorable remarks or a great toast—the Bard is the perfect speechwriter. On any occasion, chances are there's a Shakespeare quote that's fitting. The challenge, of course, is finding the right one.

Enter Barry Edelstein. One of the top Shakespeare directors and teachers in the country, he can help you pick the perfect "Bardism," pronounce it with style, and craft an elegant speech, talk, or missive around it.

Bardisms provides the best of Shakespeare's wisdom, with passages that mark the special times as well as the everyday:

  • A wedding vow: "To you I give myself, for I am yours."
    As You Like It
  • For your darling little girl: "You gods, look down / And from your sacred vials pour your graces / Upon my daughter's head."
    The Winter's Tale
  • Birthday greeting: "To me, fair friend, you can never be old;"
    Sonnet 104
  • Time to party: "Let's mock the midnight bell."
    Antony and Cleopatra
  • On reputation: "Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, / Is the immediate jewel of their souls."

Edelstein takes the reader step by step through each Shakespeare quote, providing eminently helpful tips for speaking the lines like a pro. The book is organized chronologically, covering all stages of life—from childbirth to commencement, marriage, the workplace, old age, and all the significant events in between.

Bardisms celebrates Shakespeare's genius with a wealth of fascinating tidbits about his life and times, his work and his art. Edelstein explores what it is about Shakespeare's writing that makes it so fitting for important moments: his perfect balance of wit and sentimentality; his boundless imagination; his ability to express emotion at its purest; and his talent for communicating a complex thought in vivid and energetic terms.

Most of all, Bardisms makes Shakespeare infinitely more accessible, lending a freshness and vitality to his writing and fostering a new appreciation for its usefulness in our lives. For anyone struggling to come up with the perfect words, in any situation, Bardisms is the ultimate resource.

Author Bio (Publisher Website)
Barry Edelstein is a theater director noted for his productions of the plays of William Shakespeare. He has directed over half of the Bard's works at theaters around New York City and the United States, including Julius Caesar, starring Jeffrey Wright, for New York's Shakespeare in the Park, and As You Like It, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he quotes a lot of Shakespeare.


For anyone who has to do public speaking, or if you just love Shakespeare this is a wonderful little book. The book is broken down into over 30 categories, all listing different quotes to use for those occasions.

On many occasions, Edelstein lays out the quote, gives you the history behind the quote and then tells you how to use it in everyday life. Many times he also explains longer quotes in modern terms so that it is easily understandable to the layman.

The book would be invaluable for those who are giving speeches, toasts, scrapbooking and looking for phrases, and the list goes on and on. This book simply makes Shakespeare accessible and understandable to the average person. And for those of us who love a good turn of phrase it's just fun.

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