Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 630.  Wednesday, 6 October 1993.
From:           Kenneth S. Rothwell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 5 Oct 1993 08:25:37 -500 (EDT)
Subject:        [Query: Asimov's GUIDE]
        Recent discussions of the historical context for Much Ado prompt
me to ask if anyone out there has used Isaac Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare
for information about historical contexts in the plays. Asimov was a
prodigiously prolific author who remained unintimidated from undertaking
the most massive projects imaginable. Guides to the Bible, Guides to the
History of the world, Guides to Shakespeare. You name it. I've heard that
he published over 300 books. He was also as everyone knows a talented
writer of sci-fi. Because his Guide to Shakespeare is totally undocumented
and because it seemed doubtful that anyone who wrote so much could remain
accurate, I always used his two-volume work with some trepidation, but use
it I did. Perhaps with some feelings of guilt, as though the chairman was
about to catch me preparing my lectures from Cliff's Notes. His section on
Don Pedro of Aragon in Vol. I of the Guide (p. 545) seems very helpful to
me. So far as I know this book was never reviewed in a Shakespeare journal
nor does it appear widely in bibliographies. Is there someone on the List more
knowledgeable than I about it who would like to comment on its
value? I heard Asimov speak at an MLA convention several years ago and
was impressed by the man's unpretentiousness and obvious sincerity. He
was not unwilling to make his meaning plain.
Awed by Asimov,
Ken Rothwell

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