Acquired Book By: I am a new reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, starting with FaithWords which is their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of  and have been wicked happy I can review for their imprints Grand Central Publishing, FaithWords & Center Street.
I received a complimentary copy of “Holy Shakespeare” direct from the publisher FaithWords (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
101 lines or passages from William Shakespeare's works paired with Scripture passages that appear in the bard's classics. To be published just in time for the Shakespeare 400th celebrations.
Shakespeare was heavily influenced by Holy Writ. Bible lines, characters and narratives are "verbal characters" in the his plays, poems and sonnets, sometimes subtly and sometimes blatantly. But they are there, revealing the deep scriptural well that was the culture from which Shakespeare drew and also reminding us of scenes and stories in the Bible.
Shakespeare knew the Bible--as did everyone during that time. He used Scripture freely in what he wrote because through such biblical allusions, audiences would immediately grasp his meanings, charaterizations and unfolding situations. His works-meant to be performed-gave Scripture life. The Bible was not mere words in Shakespeare's work, but, like all of Scripture, were used for reproof, instruction, conviction and training.
Listening to Shakespeare with an ear that's open to whispers from God's Word can kindle both passion for his great literary works and the Greatest Book of all, Holy Scripture.
Places to find the book:
Published by FaithWords
on 4th October, 2016
Format: Portable Hardback Edition
Formats Available: Hardcover, Audiobook & Ebook
Converse via: #INSPYbooks, #nonfiction, #motivationalbooks + #Shakespeare & #Quotes
One interesting bit to reading Shakespeare, is I oft-noted how intricate the symbolism was behind the stories, characterisations and the ways in which Shakespeare asserted himself through his sonnets. He liked to turn a double-blade of truth and meaning through his ink – using his pen to craft his words with a distinctive styling of recognition. Even when your newly acquainted with his collective works, you can genuinely notice his subtle style of being purposeful in expressing himself in a particular way to where there is a threading of familiarity throughout everything he left behind for us to read.
I oft felt inclined to muse about what inspired him – where he drew his ideas and by what layer of insight did he pull from his own imagination and the literary environment around him? Despite the generations of centuries between us, there is the familiar sense that all writers take up the pen as a sword of truthfulness about their own interpretation of the world around them inasmuch as a well of creativity spun out of the collective knowledge of their generation; at least, what could be afforded to them or left as a strong impression; either through direct contact or osmosis, each writer finds themselves containing a layer of inspiration by the hours they live and re-absorb their memories through a directed pairing of creative thought. What then, would lead Shakespeare to re-invent what inspired him most and to tell the stories through the lens in which he cast his characters!?
In this offering, Ms Sparks parlays how insightful portions of Shakespeares own words were transcending straight out of the one volume containing the most references towards the human condition in his time or ours: the Bible. It isn’t a far stretch either – even though the Bible was not as portable or as well-read as it is widely now in ours. The curious thing is how I don’t believe this was a well-hidden secret, but one perhaps none of us who consider ourselves Shakespearean-inclined as readers may have picked up on necessarily if we weren’t tuning in our readerly eyes to what was laid inside his words!? To which I am referring too – when you first pick up a play of his to read, do you read it superficially as it is meant to be read on the surface of the play’s meaning or do you read it dimensionally, taking into account the footnotes or side references, or the hidden layers ebbing out of the surface of the words themselves where you can ascertain ‘more than’ what is visual simply by ‘cluing into’ the in-between bits which are slightly ‘askew’ of the surface itself!? Or are you like me, and like to read Shakespeare from a variety of angles – allowing your mind and imagination to entreat inside his literati world whichever which way you feel inclined the day you soak inside his stories? For his craft of story-telling is not only aptly in-tune with humanity’s vexations and tribulations, but he shares an insight towards the harder truths of the world, as well.
Yet, I am not going to reflect on any of this directly but rather what Ms Sparks had included in this lovely volume of Shakespearean quotations cross-referenced directly with passages out of the Bible!
Sparks specifically set out to earmark 101 scriptures which are etched through Shakespeare’s collective works – across his preferences of prose and narrative alike. I hadn’t realised until I read her Foreword his particular era was directly anchoured to Biblical texts and cultural references; so much so, due to this entrenched perceptional eye on the Biblical structure of stories and how allegories were referenced therein, the audience of Shakespeare in those original years of publication would have alighted through his stories differently than we would in our century. I wonder too, if you allocate yourself a time travel window to re-appear per each 100 years after his publications, what differences in acceptance, perception and reader or literary peer reaction to his collective works would yield? Are the variances directly related to the era of time each reader lived or was it geographically altering perception – for instance New World verse the Bard’s home of England? How would time and historical knowledge per each generation re-align his intentions by what was writ into his stories? If you cast the map further, how would the references re-assemble in other countries further out of Europe and the America’s? Is it all re-assembled to a similar vein of thought or does each reader who finds his collective works internalise his words differently and then, altogether finds the ‘map’ he’s laid hidden inside his stories to reveal the truer message of his original inspiration?
The clever approach upon Ms Sparks is to tempt her readers anew with prompts of thought – each sparking their own cross-references to scripture and extending out of the moment where the scripture quote is embedded in each construct of Shakespeare’s pen. You move from the prompt to Shakespeare to the Bible – in this lovely collection of words, thoughts, and percolating movements of ancient wisdom and shared insight of a mindfulness of our humanity. She has formed a bridge between a life of faith and a life rooted in the inspiring words of imagined thought; forming an intersection of recognition and re-affirmation of why we love reading Shakespeare. As the man behind the pen has not only entombed his creativity to speak directly to the annals of man’s pursuit of life and the struggles for love, power or the purity of seeking a purpose in a lived life itself but he’s tempered his own thoughts about everything through a guided pursuit of leaving behind a mere inkling of his mind’s understanding of a well-lived life.
Included and interspersed with the coordinating references are historical artifacts pertinent to this self-study of Shakespeare and scripture. I found those to be a special treat – something you hadn’t expected to find and which helped fuse the readings even more to the point of seeking something more than the surface layers of Shakespeare’s stories. I also agreed with the author, on the note, that sometimes the readings we have as younger readers than those spent in hours of reading as adults can lay to mind different interpretations of the narrative in front of us. She hinted at wishing she had made this reference earlier between the Bible and Shakespeare – however, I am unsure if that would have given her the heightened awareness she now has within her own mindfulness about the two correlations.
If you stop to pause on it a moment – all of us interpret stories differently at different moments of our lives; reading is interlinked to the fullness of our experiences and the moods in which the stories and words are greeting us at first meeting. Sometimes something simply doesn’t whet a thirst of interest for us at first, might be re-visited lateron and looked at differently. Other times, we simply need to admit when something isn’t our cuppa tea as for whichever reason, even if there are portions of the story which agrees with us, there are other portions of it which rankle disfavour and disillusion. This can happen quite frequently with those of us who read heartily and read mindfully of the wholesome experience of what reading affords us.
I, myself, did not remember finding these conclusions about Shakespeare, but you have to remember, I read Shakespeare quite organically. I’ve known about my preferential attachment to his writings for a long time, but I have drawn out my readings of his stories and the words he’s left behind for most of my life – as I like to savour the experience but also, await for hours where the stress of everyday life is not so woefully attached to my spirit as to alter my perception of what I am reading by his hand. I like to read Shakespeare in the happier tides of life rather than the stressful bouts of adversity if you will. There is something uplifting about Shakespeare, yes, but there is something soul-directed too, as I like be fully ready to peer through his lens and see the stories alight as they were first intended and then, secondly for how he might have hidden the subtext in the layers of how he told the stories as well.
My favourite of course, is the final quotation referring directly to our purpose and how we are meant to live our lives most directly. In summation of everything which could be said, this says it all quote well indeed. I also think, part of what gives Shakespeare the most pleasure to be read (continuously) is how re-inspiring he is to dig inside his mind and to see how he shaped his words – how words could be used as barbs or vessels of insight. How he could guide love through entangled duality of meaning and how he truly celebrated life in all it’s glories to reflect an honesty about all of us – irregardless of which century we were bourne. He simply tapped into a methodology of writing which is temporally unchangeable by time or by discovery; for each reader who picks up his collective works will see the message(s) he’s left for us to embrace. Similar of course, to others – such as the man who wrote the seminal favourite Handel’s Messiah. Some works – in literature, art or music simply resonate with us on a soul and heart level – they speak to us in ways which other forms of communication can not reach.
Happily this is the second release by Ms Sparks I’ve had the pleasure of receiving! Prior to this one, I received Christmas Quiet, of which I blogged about a bit earlier in regards to how I wasn’t able to quiet my mind this Christmas but will be re-attempting to fully immerse in the experience of a mindful journalling journey during Christmas 2017. (see also review)
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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!
I am cross-promoting my Christmas readings this year via the #WYReadathon of which was put together after I had envisioned my own Christmas selections! I felt it was quite kismet on the timing of it all, and looked forward to engaging with other readers who were going to blog their readerly delights this Thanksgiving and Christmas season! I find that I am the most comfortable reading Christmas Stories between Thanksgiving and Twelfth Night (in January); as the stories just appeal to me to be read during this short period of time where the fullness of the season is not only apparent but can be felt by spirit, mind and heart. I look forward to sharing more of my selections with you as I proceed forward with my readings! Happy Christmas!
There are more #ChristmasReads arriving on #JLASblog ahead of February as I had to push my schedule forward a bit during Christmas Week. Therefore, the select Christmas stories I’ve been reading and enjoying company inside are still going to be featured this first month of 2017. I had to amend my #ChristmasReads schedule due to my father’s stroke (see also this post). I am posting all of my last reviews in the spirit of both Christmas & Twelfth Night right now as time simply flew off the clock this January.
This marks my 9th #WYChristmasReadathon post –
- Read my initial joy over reading Christmas Stories on my review of “Finding Father Christmas”!
- You’re the One that I Want by Angela Britnell (review)
- Blueprint for Love by Henriette Gyland (review)
- Grand Designs by Linda Mitchelmore (review)
- Marry for Love by Christina Courtenay (review)
- Only True in Fairy Tales by Christine Stovell (review)
- The Art of Deception (review)
- Gifts of the Magi (anthology) edited by RJ Sullivan, E. Chris Garrison & John F. Allen (review)
- A Very Blessed Christmas (colouring book) by Robin Mead
- Christmas Quiet (colouring book devotional) by Maisie Sparks and Lauren Younis (joint review)
- Holy Shakespeare by Maisie Sparks
+ films I’ve watched:
A Merry Murdoch Christmas (Murdoch Mysteries) | The Croods (as it’s fitting for a New Year)
Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.