Naipaul and his world

Naipaul was “the greatest prose writer in the English language of the last 60 years”, wrote Amit Chaudhuri in the Guardian when Naipaul died at the age of 85 on August 11. Others were more measured in their praise. They could not overlook his flaws and prejudices. Naipaul himself provoked criticism by what he said and wrote, admitting he had been a “big prostitute man”, ill-treating his first wife, Patricia Hale, and his long-time mistress, Margaret Gooding née Murray, and offending blacks and Muslims among others.

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The Globe Guide to Shakespeare

Lavishly illustrated, The Globe Guide to Shakespeare is a joy to behold and a pleasure to read. Written by Andrew Dickson, with contributions by Joe Staines, this isn’t a musty, fusty academic treatise thick with jargon. As the authors say in the introduction, “Above all, this isn’t intended to be a textbook, and we hope it’s fun to read: our ambition throughout has been to demystify Shakespeare, to show there are interesting ways of thinking about his works without saturating them in academic jargon.”

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RK Narayan’s Malgudi Days

RK Narayan enjoyed writing short stories more than novels. He said so in the introduction to his collection of short stories, Malgudi Days.

First published in Penguin Books in 1984, Malgudi Days includes selections from his earlier collections, An Astrologer’s Day and Other Stories (1947) and Lawley Road and Other Stories (1956 ), as well as stories that had appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, Playboy and Antaeus.

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Julius Caesar

Scholarship is like technology, always evolving. The Arden Shakespeare edition of Julius Caesar I picked up from the library can’t be the Arden edition of Julius Caesar I read in my schooldays. This edition, first published in 1998, is edited by David Daniell, who begins his introduction to the play by asserting, “Julius Caesar is Shakespeare’s first great tragedy.”

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As You Like It, Rosalind

Rosalind has been my favourite Shakespearean heroine from the first time I read As You Like It. That was shortly after the Beatles had disbanded, when soft rock was ruling the airwaves and there were no such things as PCs and the World Wide Web. The world has changed utterly since then even in its reading of Shakespeare. As You Like It now turns out to be not just a romantic comedy, which was what I thought it was, but a play with homoerotic elements.

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Homage to Adrian Henri

The poems of Adrian Henri are as catchy and simple as pop songs. He, Roger McGough and Brian Patten were the three Liverpool poets presented in The Mersey Sound, a bestselling poetry anthology of all time. First published in 1967, The Mersey Sound has sold over a half million copies.

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