Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Pocket Posh® William Shakespeare: 100 Puzzles and Quizzes by The Puzzle Society.

Even for the seasoned Shakespearean the idea of a quiz or puzzle book dedicated to the canon is a fairly intimidating prospect (fairly?).  Most of us probably know some of the plays very well, the tragedies and comedies most often produced and everything else as a vague recollection. How do you produce something which is accessible enough to be enjoyable for a general audience and distracting enough for scholars?

Apart from some straight quizzes, the Pocket Posh® William Shakespeare’s main approach is to present a series of puzzles that can mostly be completed without an extensive knowledge of the plays. The crosswords have a series of shaded boxes that will spell out a play or character once the grid is completed. Word searches, kriss krosses and code crackers list Shakespeare related words to be fitted in or found.

I went straight to the quizzes, which were indeed quite tricky, some questions asking for events in specific years which I think scholars are still arguing about. But I managed an (in my head) respectable 16/25 which included a guess for one of the posers on page one hundred and twenty-four the basis for which looks factually incorrect to me or at least is open to greater discussion than presented in the totality of the answer.

Which is the other danger with Shakespearean trivia – even the very language of the plays is hotly contested especially if there’s more than text being worked from. So it probably is just as well that behind the attractive wrap around cover, the bulk of the other clues in the book – for the crosswords – are far less ambiguous mostly consisting of straight general knowledge questions that we all have a shot at answering.

Pocket Posh® William Shakespeare: 100 Puzzles and Quizzes' by The Puzzle Society is published by Andrews McMeel. £5.99. ISBN: 9781449401252. Review copy supplied.

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