The Wonderful and Surprising History of Sweeney Todd: The Life and Times of an Urban Legend

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9780826497918: The Wonderful and Surprising History of Sweeney Todd: The Life and Times of an Urban Legend
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<div>The tales surrounding Sweeney Todd's notorious barber shop in London's Fleet Street have entertained generations of audiences and have made Todd himself one of the most famous - or perhaps notorious - characters in the city's history.<em> The Wonderful and Surprising History of Sweeney Todd</em> traces the fortunes of Todd's narrative from its earliest 'proper' appearance as a Victorian 'penny blood' in 1846-47, and then as a popular melodrama on the stage, through to its twentieth-century manifestation in film, ballet, musicals, and opera up to current and future productions, including the forthcoming Tim Burton/Johnny Depp film version of Stephen Sondheim's 1979 Broadway masterpiece.  <br/><br/>Each successive generation has found a compelling fascination in Sweeney Todd's themes of avarice, ambition, desire, appetite, retribution, justice, and cannibalism.  Following in the footsteps of the myth, this fascinating book takes the reader on a journey from the roots of the story in the alleyways and pie-shops of Victorian London to its modern incarnations on stage, screen and in popular culture.</div>>

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About the Author:

Robert L. Mack is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Exeter. His edition of the original Sweeney Todd novel was published by Oxford University Press in November 2007. His other books include Thomas Gray: A Life (Yale UP, 2000) and The Genius of Parody (Palgrave, 2007).

Review:

Mentioned in Sue Baker's selection of forthcoming titles:'...a history of the whole phenomenon, explaining why this melodrama has remained so popular.'—Publishing News
(Publishing News)

"There is seemingly nothing on the subject of the tale of Sweeney Todd — from its roots in reality, to its finding its way into folklore and subsequently literature, and then onto innumerable stages and the screen — which Robert L. Mack has not explored in "The Wonderful and Surprising History of Sweeney Todd: The Life and Times of an Urban Legend." It is an immensely detailed and far-reaching book that might be considered the last word in program notes to Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's stage musical and its movie version directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp...You don't only get everything you might ever want to know (and some things you might not!) about Sweeney Todd, but also the benefit of all that wisdom from the great writers invoked by the author in his successful quest to give maximum context to a classic." -Martin Rubin, The Los Angeles Times (Martin Rubin Los Angeles Times)

"...[Robert L. Mack's book] will surely become the definitive work on the subject..." - Louise Welsh, The Guardian (Louise Welsh The Guardian)

'Well researched...Mack's investigation into the origins of one of London's favourite myths...uncovers some interesting titbits.' EMPIRE

'...everything you ever wanted to know about Sweeney Todd but also with anything and everything related to it...[Mack's] narrative personae range from vivid anecdotalist to contemplative philosopher, from historical detective...to measured academic...'
'...full of wonder and surprises...'
Kamilla Elliott, THE, March 2008

Mention - Chronicle of Higher Education, February 8, 2008

"Sweeney Todd has enjoyed relatively little academic discussion...This scholarly neglect is now changed by Robert Mack's book about the lives of Sweeney Todd. Do not be put off by the lurid pseudo-Victorian title. This is a carefully researched and deeply serious attempt to understand the meanings and functions of the Sweeney Todd figure. In The Wonderful and Surprising History of Sweeney Todd, Mack, who has also edited a scholarly edition of The String of Pearls for Oxford University Press, probes the culture that made Sweeney Todd possible. He argues that the character emerged from a cluster of myths, tropes, and story archetypes that were prevalent in the mid-nineteenth century but often had older lineages...One of the book's distinctive claims concerns Charles Dickens's influence on the original story...this is a rich and rewarding cultural history. I devoured it as if it were one of Mrs. Lovett's meat pies." —Rohan McWilliam, Victorian Studies, Summer 2008

"[The author] goes a good deal further than merely chronuicling the various representations of the Sweeney Todd story from Victorian 'penny blood' and popular melodrama to Sondheim's musical masterpiece. He engages with many other manifestations which have emerged in film, ballet, musical theatre and opera over twoo centuries"" His excellently-researched book presents his findings in such a way that we can re-imagine the talein terms of its political and cultural contexts, and recognise current cultural parallels"
Theatre Notebook vol.62 2008 (Roy Pierce-Jones)

"Separate micro-histories of all these elements, drawn together to inform the whole, is a clever way of writing a monograph about the myth and the ways in which it has passed into cultural currency""wide-ranging and well-researched volume""a fascinating volume which will appeal to scholars and a general readership alike"Cambridge Journals, may 2009 (Ann Featherstone)

"There is seemingly nothing on the subject of the tale of Sweeney Todd — from its roots in reality, to its finding its way into folklore and subsequently literature, and then onto innumerable stages and the screen — which Robert L. Mack has not explored in "The Wonderful and Surprising History of Sweeney Todd: The Life and Times of an Urban Legend." It is an immensely detailed and far-reaching book that might be considered the last word in program notes to Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's stage musical and its movie version directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp...You don't only get everything you might ever want to know (and some things you might not!) about Sweeney Todd, but also the benefit of all that wisdom from the great writers invoked by the author in his successful quest to give maximum context to a classic." -Martin Rubin, The Los Angeles Times (Sanford Lakoff Los Angeles Times)

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