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Hamlet [Paperback]

William Shakespeare , Cyrus Hoy
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 1992 0393956636 978-0393956634 2nd Revised edition
The text of this Second Edition is based on the second quarto (1604-1605), with occasional references to the folio. In order to help the reader place the play in the proper historical context, "Intellectual Backgrounds" includes important readings on melancholoy, demonology, the nature of man and death. Pre-Shakespearean accounts of the story of Hamlet are also included with extracts from Saxo Gramaticus' "Historica Danica" and Belleforest's "Histoires Tragiques". The editor has revised the "Criticism" section in order to accommodate significant interpretations published since the last edition. Among the critics represented are Samuel Johnson, Goethe, Coleridge, Hazlitt, D.H.Lawrence, T.S.Eliot, C.S.Lewis, Harry Levin, Rebecca West and William Empson.

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Customer Reviews

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3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Contains Invaluable Information about Hamlet July 7 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is worth buying for the critical essays and background information alone. Most interesting is the 'true' story of AMLETH, chronicled around 1100 by Saxo Grammaticus. This piece is bona fide history, albeit with some retouching. It was written about 500 years before Shakespeare took up his pen to write his mighty play, and is very interesting to contrast with the play. Much more is contained in this Critical Edition, particularly essays by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and other famous literary figures.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful resource for students! Jan. 9 2000
Format:Paperback
This book is a great buy for someone who is doing an essay or project involving review or criticism of Hamlet, or for someone who would just like to know more about this wonderful play. The essays and background information are very helpful and informative.
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1.0 out of 5 stars it is vague and lacks depth and meaning Sept. 6 1999
Format:Paperback
it is worthless equal to todays soap operas
tras
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contains Invaluable Information about Hamlet July 7 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is worth buying for the critical essays and background information alone. Most interesting is the 'true' story of AMLETH, chronicled around 1100 by Saxo Grammaticus. This piece is bona fide history, albeit with some retouching. It was written about 500 years before Shakespeare took up his pen to write his mighty play, and is very interesting to contrast with the play. Much more is contained in this Critical Edition, particularly essays by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and other famous literary figures.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great play, amazing edition Sept. 18 2007
By S. Yeung - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Essentially, this Norton Critical edition is the best out there. While the notes may need some polishing, they are sparse to preserve the ambiguity of the play. The critical essays in the back are absolutely superb.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet (Norton) Oct. 7 2013
By Bunbury - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hamlet is Hamlet. Norton editions provide interesting background information and readings that enhance the experience. I highly recommend any Norton edition of anything.
4.0 out of 5 stars could be better but still good June 6 2014
By James H. Waters - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My issue is with the footnotes to the play itself. They are, of course, helpful, but the format is such that trying to read becomes quite a chore. You cannot tell if there is a footnote for a word without looking at the bottom of the page (the footnote section), and, when you happen to look, you may find that there was a note for something earlier on the page. Then you read that note and try to find the word that you should have read the note for. There are perhaps 5 or 6 notes per page and after a while it gets very tedious. A better format, in my opinion, would be for the notes to be in a gloss on the margin, or for there to be either a number or asterisk IN the text itself telling you there's a note. I'm planning to start checking, before I read the page, and marking the words that have notes, but this would've been not too difficult for the editor to have done in the first place. You might think it should be obvious to you whether you need a note or not but that's actually not the case. You think you know what the word, phrase, or line means, but then you chance to find a note that tells you more. Or, as I said, you know you need a note and then find one that you didn't know you needed. It introduces quite a bit of distraction.
5.0 out of 5 stars Including the Evolution of an English Vision of Hell Sept. 29 2013
By Jonathan Hansen - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Considered by many to be Shakespeare's masterpiece, the Bard introduces his historical fiction through a chance meeting of Hamlet with the ghost of his father. Writing in the very wake of Henry VIII's expulsion of the Papists and establishment of the Church of England, over which Elizabeth the Virgin Queen presides, Shakespeare introduces to us a ghost en route to Purgatory, where he is:

"Doomed for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away, But that I am forbid
to tell the secrets of my prison house,"

Rather than imagining this were some sort of counter reformation ploy, I think it's more productive and reflecting great Shakespearean subtlety here that he tacitly acknowledges, despite the dawning reformation and despite decrees of kings, that from history hundreds of years past, Christians have lived in the shadow of this Christian idea of Hell, of this purge-atorial belief.

Any reading of Shakespeare deserves generous amounts of annotation and commentary to help the reader through a lot of vocabulary which isn't often used in our day. So as to narrow my scope to a review rather than a book report, I would recommend that this edition fulfills that assignment, devoting more than half the book to historical review of religious and philosophical published material about the cultural beliefs regarding ghosts, spirits, demon kind, angels, death, the occult, and the medical humors, preceding Shakespeare's writings. And, great philosopher that the Bard is, he parodies the extraordinary political trouble in religion.

This didn't immediately sink in, when first I read the ghost's remark about marriage to his "most seeming virtuous queen." It is a ghost, only a shadow of who he used to be, who complains about his wife's 'new' filial relations with his murderous, but living brother. The metaphor is yet hanging in the air while Hamlet is confronting his mother the queen.

Another truly evil piece of work is the courtier Polonius, who Hamlet slays, spying on this same confrontation between the queen and Hamlet. Polonius really is the quintessence of Grimer Wormtongue. Not only does he achieve over-kill, poisoning the well between Ophelia and Hamlet, but from our first introduction to this family, when Ophelia's brother Laertes is traveling to a foreign city to study, even in one breath Polonius extends seeming wise counsel to his departing son, then, the minute Laertes back is turned, Polonius is spitting firebrands and madness; he employs ruffians to follow after his son, seem to befriend him, tempt him into any unseemly or un virtuous behavior they may and noise about vicious slander besides, ruining any chance of his establishing social contacts or successes of his own, which might otherwise lead him to forsake returning home.

So his daughter kills herself, pressured not only by Hamlet's feigned psychosis, but further fueled by her father's treachery. When Laertes returns home all unhinged with grief for his sister, no further allusions are given to the fruit of his father's villainy, where he had gone to study. But the evil king offers us a narrative foot note, summarizing well, I think, the emotional timbre of the author, whose son also had died,

"When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions..."
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