In her latest book, Shakespeares Genealogies, author Vanessa James continues to indulge people's fascination with genealogies by uncovering the familial relationships of over 1,000 of William Shakespeares characters across all forty-two of his plays and dramatic poems. Due out in October 2007 and reasonably priced at $24.95, James's new work is a necessary companion for Shakespeare aficionados everywhere. This book is a follow-up to her critically acclaimed Genealogy of Greek Mythology, in which she reveals the lineage of over 3,000 mythical gods and mortals from ancient Greek texts. Genealogies pique the interest of many people because they illuminate the complexities of blood relationships and can help clarify the family dynamics that underlie drama. These lineages intrigued and inspired Shakespeare, as he used familial relationships to create plots driven by familial jealousy, lust, passion, and murder, not to mention the oldest of theatrical devices, mistaken identities and separated siblings.
Shakespeares Genealogies uses the same two-sided, accordion-fold, fully illustrated format as James's previous book. The accordion-fold style allows one to read the book traditionally, page-by-page, or to unfurl the work to 17 feet and view the intricacies of the lineages in their entirety. The book begins with the biography of Shakespeare, accompanied by his own family tree, and continues with charts organized according to category of play (Myths and Legends, Legends into History, Continental Plays, Roman History Plays, and British History Plays). These categories diverge from the traditional grouping of the plays into Tragedies, Comedies and Histories. The unique reorganization of these plays in order to better understand the bloodlines of Shakespeares characters is the product of James's own scholarship.
The chart is accompanied by plot descriptions that discuss the genealogical implications of each play. Through the family trees, stories, and an array of over 100 images, Shakespeares Genealogies evokes a comprehensive portrait of Shakespeares worlds. Its thorough, exhaustive, and inventive scholarship makes it a must-have for any serious student of Shakespeare, as well as anyone who wants to gain a greater appreciation and enjoyment of his timeless dramatic works.