Best of Series,  Read Along,  Shakespeare,  Show Notes

Episode 205: The “Best of” Series – Intro to Shakespeare and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Ep. 118

Welcome to this new season of The Literary Life podcast! During the month of January 2024, we will be re-airing our series of episodes on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

This week we bring you an introduction both to William Shakespeare and his play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Hosts Angelina, Cindy and Thomas seek to give new Shakespeare readers a place from which to jump into his work and more experienced readers eyes to see more layers in his stories. Cindy begins with some perspective on how to start cultivating a love for Shakespeare. Angelina shares her “hot take” on whether you should read the play or watch the play. They suggest some books for further digging into Shakespeare’s works, and Angelina gives an overview of the format of his comedies. Thomas goes into some detail about Roman comedy. 

Next week we will be back with a discussion of Acts I and II of the play.

Even though the spring 2022 Literary Life Conference “The Battle Over Children’s Literature” featuring special guest speaker Vigen Guroian is over, you can still purchase the recordings at

To sign up for Thomas Banks and Anne Phillips’ webinar on Herodotus on January 30, 2024, head over to

Listen to The Literary Life:

Commonplace Quotes:

If certain tendencies within our civilization were to proceed unchecked, they would rapidly take us towards a society which, like that of a prison, would be both completely introverted and completely without privacy. The last stand of privacy has always been, traditionally, the inner mind….It is quite possible, however, for communications media, especially the newer electronic ones, to break down the associative structures of the inner mind and replace them by the prefabricated structures of the media . A society entirely controlled by their slogans and exhortations would be introverted because nobody would be saying anything: there would only be echo, and Echo was the mistress of Narcissus….the triumph of communication is the death of communication: where communication forms a total environment, there is nothing to be communicated.

Northrop Frye

No writer can persist for five hundred pages in being funny at the expense of someone who is dead.

Harold Nicolson

Originality was a new and somewhat ugly idol of the nineteenth century.

Janet Spens


by Siegfried Sassoon

To see with different eyes
From every day,
And find in dream disguise
Worlds far away—

To walk in childhood’s land
With trusting looks,
And oldly understand
Youth’s fairy-books—

Thus our unwisdom brings
Release which hears
The bird that sings
In groves beyond the years.

Book List:

Amazon affiliate links

The Practice of Biography” by Harold Nicolson

The Modern Century by Northrop Frye

An Essay on Shakespeare’s Relation to Tradition by Janet Spens

Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit

Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb

Tales from Shakespeare by Marcia Williams

Leon Garfield’s Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield

Stories from Shakespeare by Marchette Chute

Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare by Isaac Asimov

The Meaning of Shakespeare by Harold Goddard

The Elizabethan World Picture by E. M. Tillyard

Shakespeare’s Problem Plays by E. M. Tillyard

Shakespeare’s Early Comedies by E. M. Tillyard

Shakespeare’s History Plays by E. M. Tillyard

Great Stage of Fools by Peter Leithart

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Connect with Us:

You can find Angelina and Thomas at, on Instagram @angelinastanford, and on Facebook at

Find Cindy at, on Instagram @cindyordoamoris and on Facebook at Check out Cindy’s own Patreon page also!

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