Me and Shakespeare
Adventures with the Bard
By Herman Gollob
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780385498180, 352pp.)
Publication Date: September 9, 2003
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On the eve of retiring from a successful publishing career, Herman Gollob attends a wonderful Broadway production of Hamlet starring Ralph Fiennes. Galvanized by the splendor of the language, the drama and the acting, he discovers an insatiable passion for all things Shakespeare. He reads broadly and deeply about the plays, discusses them with some of the great actors, directors, and teachers of our time, and soon finds himself teaching a popular Shakespeare class at a small New Jersey college.
Gollob’s quest leads him to Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-on-Avon; to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.; to a summer course on Shakespeare at Oxford; and to London’s recently rebuilt Globe Theatre. As he pursues his glorious new obsession, Gollob reflects on his family’s bittersweet history, his encounters with writers, and the emergence of a Jewish identity that inspires some original ideas about Shakespeare’s plays. Me and Shakespeare is a joyful memoir that attests to the power of literature to re-invigorate our lives at any age.
Herman Gollob is a graduate of Texas A&M University. After serving in the U.S. Air Force in Korea, he worked as a theatrical agent for the MCA Artists Agency and a literary agent for the William Morris Agency before finding his calling as an editor with Little, Brown. He has been editor in chief of Atheneum, Harper’s Magazine Press, the Literary Guild, and Doubleday, and a senior editor at Simon & Schuster. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife, Barbara, and teaches Shakespeare at the Lifelong Learning Institute of Caldwell College.
“[A] lively hybrid of memoir, Bildungsroman and literary criticism [with] the conversational ease, raconteur’s charm and digressive storytelling of a one-man show.” --The New York Times Book Review
“A delightful read . . . what makes his volume most engaging is the skill with which he describes the people and places he gets to know in his quest to find out as much as he can about what keeps Shakespeare vibrant in a world so different from the one in which the playwright’s art came to fruition.” -- The Washington Post
“No one has ever brought the world of the planet Shakespeare so vividly alive as Gollob has in his book, no one. . . . Gollob’s search for Shakespeare led him to a search for himself and his roots that I found very moving. He could do that I think because Shakespeare deepened and shaped him and opened him into a new and joyous life. I salute him for sharing that life and writing this splendid book.” --Pat Conroy
“Memorably capture[s] the sense of discovery and wonder that great writing engenders . . . . The brimming enthusiasm is . . . infectious. —The San Francisco Chronicle
“A true pleasure: bookish without being academic, smart without being smart-alecky, always with an eye on the original work and not on its interpreter’s cleverness. . . . Good fun–and an inspiration for readers to return to Shakespeare on their own.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Thoroughly engaging. . . . [Gollob’s] enthusiasm for his subject is contagious . . . and his boyish zeal comes across as a call to arms to all readers who’ve ever contemplated changing their lives.” –Publishers Weekly
“Anecdote-laden, rich with gossip, and brimming with all things Shakespearean.” –BookPage
“How refreshing to have a study of Shakespeare that avoids the flatulent portentousness of the ‘higher’ criticism and that sets off immediately in an authentic human voice. . . . Among his many felicities, we should all applaud Gollob’s saving Shakespeare for the Jews, or rather for the Judeo-Christian tradition, in which Shakespeare . . . is as securely planted as an everlasting oak.” –Thomas Cahill, author of How the Irish Saved Civilization
“Gollob comes to Shakespeare with the zeal of a convert and the knowledge of a neophyte. . . . satisfying and delightfully idiosyncratic.” –Buffalo News
“A triumph of communication. . . . Bubbling with life and vitality, bristling with wit and wisdom, [Gollob’s] reader-friendly memoir is an impassioned celebration.”–The Tennesseean (Nashville)
“A unique and sympathetic record of an extraordinary kinship.” —Houston Chronicle