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The Norton Shakespeare [Hardcover]

William Shakespeare , Stephen J. Greenblatt , Walter Cohen
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 1 2008 0393929914 978-0393929911 2 Har/Psc
Instructors and students worldwide welcomed the fresh scholarship, lively and accessible introductions, helpful marginal glosses and notes, readable single-column format, all designed in support of the goal of the Oxford text: to bring the modern reader closer than before possible to Shakespeare's plays as they were first acted. Now, under Stephen Greenblatt's direction, the editors have considered afresh each introduction and all of the apparatus to make the Second Edition an even better teaching tool.

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From Library Journal

In the crowded world of collected Shakespeares, there have been two notable works, The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford Univ., 1986) and The Riverside Shakespeare (Houghton Mifflin, 1997). The most recent edition of the Riverside explores developments in Shakespearean criticism, while the Oxford presents an innovation in the Shakespearean canon. It is the Oxford edition that forms the core of The Norton Shakespeare, destined to change the count of notables to three. General editor Greenbelt (Berkeley and Harvard) and editors Walter Cohen, Jean E. Howard, and Katharine Eisaman Maus, all noted scholars of the period, acknowledge their debt to the work of the Oxford editors. However, they use the strong foundation of the Oxford to create a new and wonderful text of great richness and depth. Their mission is to make Shakespeare accessible to modern readers. With lengthy introductions providing insight into Shakespeare's life and times as well as textual notes, marginal glosses, footnotes, and bibliographies, they more than achieve their aim. In addition, the work is designed for use in classrooms (the student version includes a CD-ROM) and to that end offers some fascinating textual editing to help both students and lovers of Shakespeare understand the complexity of his writing. With King Lear, for example, the editors offer three versions: the 1608 quarto text, the 1623 Folio text (on facing pages), and then a conflated version of the two so that readers can take their own measure of the merits of conflation. For Hamlet, the editors interpolated into the folio passages of the second quarto with different typeface and spacing so that readers can view the work as an organic text. The editors also seek to widen the reader's view of Shakespeare with additional essays by Andrew Gurr (Univ. of Reading) on Elizabethan and Jacobean expectations of theater as well as genealogies, an illustrated chronology of Shakespeare's life, and over 150 illustrations. The result is a work of immense scope, scholarship, and richness. Not only will it be a vital collection for years, it will become the standard to emulate. An essential purchase for all libraries.?Neal Wyatt, Chesterfield Cty. P.L., Va.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor, is the preeminent Shakespeare scholar in the US today. Walter Cohen is Professor of Comparative Literature and Dean of the Graduate School at Cornell. Jean E. Howard is Professor of English at Columbia and Director of the Columbia University Institute for Research on Women and Gender. Katharine Eisaman Maus is Professor of English at the University of Virginia. Editors of the Oxford Text: Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor, General Editors, John Jowett, and William Montgomery. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the lot. March 2 2001
I confess that after examining 5-6 of the top-selling complete Shakespeares I tried not to like the Norton. There are less expensive editions, there are editions with glossy pages and colored photographs, there are editions that are half the weight and bulk of this leviathan, which is far more Shakespeare than the average reader--perhaps, even scholar, for that matter--would ever require. But despite its bulk and unwieldyness, its 3500 (!) thin, flimsy pages, its sheer excess, I couldn't ignore its advantages. The small print enables the publishers to squeeze in contextual materials--in the introduction and appendixes--that in themselves amount to an encyclopedic companion to Shakespeare's works; the introductions to the plays are written not in "textbook prose" but in an engaging style worthy of their subject; and perhaps, best of all, this is the only edition that places the glosses right alongside the "strange" Elizabethan word instead of in the footnotes. You can read the plays without experiencing vertigo of the eye. So this is the edition, though you may wish to go with the smaller, bound portions that Norton publishes of the same edition--especially if you can't afford the cost of a personal valet to carry this tome from home to office. On the other hand, the complete edition is excellent for doing crunches and other aerobic exercises--activities many of us who read the Bard are abt to ignore.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The only Shakespeare you'll ever need! July 16 2000
Up until recently, the only Shakespeare I ever read was in school. Ten years later, I decided to reacquaint myself with his works. I checked this version out from the library and because it is so comprehensive, I eventually bought it.
With over 3,400 pages and all Shakespeare's known plays and poems, the high price of this book is well worth it. You'll probably never need another book of his works. The only downside is that it is very heavy (about the thickness of two hardcover novels) and the pages are extremely thin (and wrinkle easily).
Intended as a textbook, the editors of this edition add biographical information, glossaries, period illustrations and footnotes. If you're reading Shakespeare for pleasure, I would recommend reading the intro to each play after you have read it through once. The intros tend to give away a bit much of the story (this can be a plus if you're reading this for a class). I'm not suggesting that you skip them altogether, as they do add helpful insight and perspective to each play.
I haven't read all the plays yet, but my favorite so far is The Taming of the Shrew. This is the best play I've read in a long time. I laughed out loud in several places. I told the story to my 7 year old son and he even laughed! I also discovered that there is another play called The Taming of a Shrew that is similar to The Taming of the Shrew but with additional passages. These extra passages are also included in this edition.
The editors always let you know when more than one version of a play has been found. They include three known versions of King Lear. Two are presented on facing pages so that you can easily see the differences. They also include a conflated version, often used in actual productions.
I recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a little or a lot of Shakespeare.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the best available complete edition Feb. 8 2000
I am currently using this edition for my University undergraduate course. It is simply the most comprehensive edition available in one volume. The introductions to each play offer stimulating views using modern, contemporary criticism and the 'scene-setting' introduction to the collection, by Greenblatt, is highly informative. The text is wonderfully readable and actually makes you want to pick it up (or lay it on a table given its size) and just read. I like the thin pages, although they are susceptible to creasing, as it makes it feel as though you're reading a Bible - a suitable analogy I think. Recommendable to anyone interested in Shakespeare - this is an edition which does justice to his greatness (anyway I'd better stop wasting time on the 'Net and get back to my essay on 'Othello'!).
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5.0 out of 5 stars One bard, one book Sept. 18 2000
As a fervent admirer of Shakespeare, this complete collection, comprising excellent introductions to each play and helpful textual notes as well as informative writings on the history of both England and the art of acting that shaped Shakespeare's writing, was like a dream come true. While before I had to walk around trying to find a good edition of the play I wanted to read, now I can open the Norton Shakespeare and read without being afraid of not understanding words or missing the point of the play. This book's obvious drawbacks are its heft and, as mentioned, its delicate pages, but these are easily outweighed by the abovementioned advantages! Buy it and read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful volume June 15 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It has that super thin, what I call "Bible paper" that adds to the atmosphere of the book. Helpful translations of words that are no longer in common use listed on the outside of the page, line numbers by the 5 on the inside. Footnotes are also provided about historical details. I purchased this as a required text for a university course. My prof has used the first edition, and now the second in teaching the course and believes this is the "ultimate" Shakespeare compilation. The intro essays before each play are also enlightening, although they can change your read of the play (for example, in Antony and Cleopatra, the author really turns up her riggish-ness, when in reality, Shakespeare turned it down). The picture of the product is a bit misleading, it does come with a dustcover that mirrors the hard outside sleeve.
This is one textbook I won't be re-selling!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars fast and perfect
product was awesome and came really fast. exceeded expectations for sure. great product highly recommended. thank you for the awesome product
Published 7 months ago by Nick
4.0 out of 5 stars Must have for Shakespeare fans
I bought this for my boyfriend, who is a Shakespeare fan, as a part of his Christmas gift. It includes all of Shakespeare's plays and also gives you other interesting information. Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2011 by Ying Liu
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag
I would in fact prefer to award this 3.5 stars, but the Amazon system seems to compel one to choose between 3 and 4, and I think 4 is too generous. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2001 by Joost Daalder
5.0 out of 5 stars Best collection of Shakespeare's plays in print!
I've read the Bard's plays in various editions (Arden's, Signet, Folger's, Riverside, etc.) and the Norton is BY FAR the most superior. Read more
Published on March 13 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but delicate edition
This complete Shakespeare takes the important Oxford edition of the late 1980s and adds annotations and notes by American academics. Read more
Published on Nov. 23 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bard
This is indeed a wonderful edition of Shakespeare. It is very accesible to the modern reader, even those who find his language daunting. Read more
Published on Aug. 31 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful new presentation of the Bard's works
The Norton Edition of Shakespeare's collected works is a wonderful and insightful tome of some of the greatest literature in the English language. Read more
Published on Aug. 27 1998
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