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Hamlet Paperback – Jan 17 1992

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc (Np); 2nd Revised edition edition (Jan. 17 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393956636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393956634
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,752,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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: HASH(0xb409c7e0) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb3eb4468) 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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb3eb49d8) out of 5 stars An older edtion of Norton's Hamlet, but still excellent Nov. 24 2015
By Bryan Byrd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This review is for the Norton Critical Edition of Hamlet, Second Edition, published in 1992. Readers of this review, if they are not aware of it already, may be interested to know that there is a newer version of this format, with apparently a completely revamped table of contents, which they can find here. I say apparently, because I have not had a chance to compare these two editions, and can only judge from the thumbnail description on the new edition's product page.

Like a few other reviewers for this edition, I am not going to spend much time discussing the play itself, as my comments would no doubt just look silly compared to the huge body of critical literature that already exists. The purpose of this review is more for discussing the supplemental material in this edition, to perhaps help others decide if this edition is sill sufficient for their needs..

First of all, the text of the play, edited here by Cyrus Hoy, is based on the second quarto (sullied--or actually, sallied in this case--rather than solid, for those who understand the distinction.) While not downplaying the differences, from my layman's point of view, I have too many other things to wrestle with in reading the play, and scholarly arguments concerning the differences between the first folio and the second quarto are beyond my ability to comment on. In a preface to this edition, editor Cyrus Hoy touches briefly on those differences and justifies his choices, and that was good enough for me.

After the body of the play comes a section titled 'Intellectual Backgrounds', which are an attempt to provide the reader with the cultural and intellectual mindset of the period when Shakespeare composed the play. What did the late Sixteenth Century intellectuals think about melancholy? or ghosts? or the nature of man himself? Excerpts from Montaigne's essays and other authors of the time are included in order to give unfamiliar readers the context in which to understand the actions of the play's characters, as well as their likely thoughts. On the heels of that section is 'Extracts from the Sources,' which include Saxo Grammaticus and Belleforest. I'd never given much thought to the source material that Shakespeare drew on to provide the basis for his play, so I found learning about them enlightening. In the end, I'm glad both the 'Intellectual Backgrounds' and the 'Extracts from the Sources' were included, as opposed to a summary written in contemporary English, summing up the pertinent ideas. Although reading through 16th Century prose can be taxing, these readings brought home to me the fact that HAMLET did not just arise out of a vacuum, which--if I had ever stopped to think about it--was probably my general conception.

The last section--'Essays in Criticism'--is really the reason I seek out any Norton Critical Edition. Of the twenty-three pieces, nine are from the 18th and 19th Centuries (including the thoughts of Samuel Johnson, Goethe, Coleridge and William Hazlitt). 20th century writers include D,H. Lawrence, T. S, Eliot, C. S. Lewis, and Rebecca West, among others. Some of these critical pieces attempt to interpret the play in its totality, while others concentrate on individual ideas expressed by the characters and their actions.

This is the third Norton Critical Edition I've read ( Heart of darkness and Oedipus Tyrannus the others), and I think I've finally figured out how to use them. In all honesty, I was looking for the criticism in the back to explain these texts--something which might be possible with some literature (though I'm not even sure about that), though doubtfully very difficult with these three examples no matter WHO is doing the explication. When I was looking for answers--when I was looking for someone to tell me what to think about them (even though I didn't realize that's what I was doing)--I was disappointed. Hats off here to Cyrus Hoy's editorial efforts--it finally penetrated even this thick head that the arrangement of the supplemental material is not designed to give answers, but to provide enough information and guidance that the reader can pursue their own thoughts about the text.

Concerning the essays themselves, it seems to me that the play's ambiguity is like a lens, through which (inadvertently or no) the essayists tend to peer mostly at themselves. This is instructive in and of itself, and combined with what factual information they provide, I found the section very rewarding. I especially appreciated the last essay, by William Empson, for its dispassionate appraisal of how 16th century audiences might have perceived the play. Bearing in mind my insights regarding the revealing nature of people's opinions about HAMLET, I'm hesitant to offer any ideas of my own, for fear of what they might say about me. But, with hat in hand, I'll offer this point, which seemed key to me--whatever the reason for Hamlet's vacillation, in the end, it was Claudius' response to Hamlet's inactivity that set the tragedy in motion. One MIGHT say that Hamlet got his revenge, but events were construed in such a way that Hamlet--as he had only been capable of throughout the play--acted in a passion rather than by design. Hamlet's is a life lived in reaction, rather than action, and perhaps that is the tragedy.

Reading the play also brought to mind the different ways to experience it--reading a text as opposed to a stage or filmed version. Having already seen movie adaptations, I appreciated the ability to pay more attention to the details, but I think there is really no comparison to a well-acted version for getting across the nuance and the drama. In fact, reading the final scene on the page felt flat and disappointing, especially when thinking back to the filmed portrayal. I still don't know which is more valid; reading the lines myself, or watching actors perform them, but I'm glad I've had an opportunity to do both, and this second Norton edition was an excellent method of helping me to understand and appreciate the text.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb3eb49fc) 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 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb3eb4d20) 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.
HASH(0xb3eb4ccc) 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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