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William Shakespeare Complete Works Hardcover – Apr 3 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 2560 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (April 3 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679642951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679642954
  • Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 6.9 x 24.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #404,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"The endurance of Shakespeare depends not only on the felt experience of good, vivid theater, but also on dynamic scholarship that reveals his living text."
–Michael Boyd, RSC artistic director

"Timely, original, and beautifully conceived, this is a remarkable edition, one that makes Shakespeare's extraordinary accomplishment more vivid than ever."
–James Shapiro, professor, Columbia University and bestselling author of A Year in the Life of Shakespeare: 1599

"The big book is a new one-volume edition of the complete works, commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and published by the Modern Library. Two eminent Shakespeareans, Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, have applied modern editing techniques and recent scholarship to correct and update the First Folio, the first collection of the plays, published in 1623…. Mr. Bate writes… a superb introduction that deals with Shakespeare and his world as well as textual questions."
The New York Times

“The excellent general introduction by Jonathan Bate and the essays and notes on each play are… a feast of literary and historical information.”
The Wall Street Journal

“I look forward to using it over many years… enjoying Jonathan Bate’s perceptive comments, trusting Eric Rasmussen’s textual scholarship.”
—Peter Holland, President of the Shakespeare Association of America, editor of Shakespeare Survey

“Bate’s edition is incomparably superior to all the rest. His knowledge of textual problems and previous commentary seems to be prodigious in its detail and thoroughness…. And his comments on individual plays are unfailingly perceptive. He’s about equally fine as scholar and critic; few excel in both roles, with their very different requirements. Bate is like an all-star shortstop who can also serve as an outstanding relief pitcher…. No other edition has ever impressed me so much.”
--Joseph Sobran, author of William Shakespeare, Alias Shakespeare: Solving the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time

Jonathan Bate is a passionate advocate of Shakespeare and his introductions to individual plays are full of striking and convincing observations…. The scholarly apparatus is discreet, elegant and pertinent. For each play, we get a set of ‘key facts’: brief accounts of plots, dates and sources, and useful statistics…. Footnotes are found snugly and legibly at the bottom of each page….There is a universe to be found in these annotations: the Renaissance world of power and fate, sex and death, language and philosophy. Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen have given us an edition full of endless fascination.”
—London Times Education Supplement

"This is a glorious edition of one of the world's most important books. It's the essential reference book for anyone who's ever been in love, felt jealousy, fear, hatred, or desire. All human life is here-and every home should have one."
–Dame Judi Dench, RSC honorary associate artist

“Anyone who wants a good single volume edition of the plays…won’t do better than this.” —The International Herald Tribune

“A magnificent new volume.” —A. N. Wilson, Daily Telegraph (UK)

“A triumphant addition to our times.” —Fiona Shaw, The Times (London)

"Thanks to Bate and Rasmussen, we now have a rendering of The Complete Works that, in a rare publishing achievement, would also give complete satisfaction to the author himself."
–Robert McCrum, The Observer

"A new and thoroughly radical edition…. The editorial decisions are argued in an impeccably informative introduction by Jonathan Bate that gives a comprehensive theatrical, social, political and biographical context to the plays. There are pithy essays, also by Bate, to introduce each play as well as exemplary notes at the foot of each page... incomparably useful ... a definitive edition."
–Richard Eyre, Sunday Telegraph

“A splendid edition. The general introduction is among the best 50-page guides to Shakespeare you could hope to find, while the short essays prefixed to each play are like the best kind of programme notes - informative, thought-provoking and humane.... The RSC's edition tells you all you need to know about the life, but also, vitally, allows you to lose yourself in the wonder of the works."
–Colin Burrow, Evening Standard

“Bate’s general introduction to Shakespeare’s life, stage and reputation is superb, and the short introductions to individual works, in particular, are among the best of their kind available.”
—Michael Dobson, The London Review of Books

“Excellent, succinct notes and introductions to each play.”
—John Carey, The Sunday Times (London)

“Professor Jonathan Bate has written thought provoking essays for each play, discussing the source material and its influence on the play as well as pointing out the familiarities [for] contemporary audiences… The glossary includes much that has been ignored in the past …. This volume is an invaluable resource to anyone interested in or simply in love with Shakespeare.” —Speech and Drama

“Bate provides excellent introductory essays to each play and his terrific introduction, simply and effectively summarizing everything you need to know about Shakespeare, man and work, is alone worth buying the edition for.” —The Daily Express (UK)

“Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen have bravely gone where no Bard editors have gone before, basing the entire edition on the First Folio, the rehearsal room version authorized by actors John Hemmings and Henry Condell after Shakespeare’s death. For the first time, the Royal Shakespeare Company has been closely involved in the developing of a collected works, including photography of RSC productions and insights into staging decisions… this is Shakespeare as you like it.” —What’s On Stage

About the Author

About the Editors

Jonathan Bate is professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance literature at the University of Warwick. Widely known as a critic, award-winning biographer, and broadcaster, Bate is the author of several books on Shakespeare, including Shakespeare and Ovid and The Genius of Shakespeare, which was praised by Peter Hall, founder of the RSC, as “the best modern book on Shakespeare.”

Eric Rasmussen is professor of English at the University of Nevada. He is co-editor of the Norton Anthology of English Renaissance Drama and of the works of Christopher Marlowe in the Oxford World’s Classics series as well as individual plays in the Arden Shakespeare series, the Revels Plays series, and the Malone Society series. Since 1997, he has written the annual review of editions and textual studies for Shakespeare Survey.

The RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) is a world-renowned ensemble theater company in Stratford and London, dedicated to bringing the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries to a modern audience.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. A. Garrett on May 18 2002
Format: Leather Bound
This book is exactly what it claims to be: the complete works of Shakespere. I strongly disagree with the reviewer who believes this is a waste of money. It is beautifully bound, has clear type, and allows you to draw your own conclusions rather than depending on the Cliffs Note summary that a paperback single will provide you. Perhaps not for the student who needs to produce an essay by morning, it is still a lovely book that puts me in the mood for a glass of wine and a leisurely read.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A reader on Jan. 6 2004
Format: Leather Bound
I originally bought this book used and later discovered that this was the ideal situation. It is handy to have all of Shakespeare's works (plays and sonnets) under one cover, but there are several drawbacks. Each page is split into two columns, causing the plays to be read like a newspaper. Since linebreaks are important in Shakespeare (remember the iambic pentameter), some lines are too long for the margins, causing the remaining words to hover like ghosts away from the sentence.
Also, this book contains no footnotes. This is mainly how buying the individual play is superior to the collected works. Olde English isn't always intuitive, and this particular book leaves you to find out a word's meaning for yourself.
But this book certainly looks pretty on your shelf. :)
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By A Customer on June 11 2004
Format: Leather Bound
While Shakespeare was producing much of his work hundreds of years ago, he belongs to the Early Modern era of the English Language. This particular period started approximately 60 years before he was born.
Many of the comments seem to think that the stilted grammar and flow (that only occur to current speakers of the language)determine whether a work is written in Old English. Some have mentioned Beowulf, which very few have likely read untranslated. If you can't understand a translated work, blame the person who authored IT and not the original work.
Old English approximates a German sound. If one were to hear something read in OE, they may guess the language was an older form of German. Middle English, the sort you'll come across reading UNTRANSLATED Chaucer, is much closer to what many would recognize as an English sounding language. It was highly ornate and approximated and Irish sound.
Early Modern English is basically what we are provided with when encountering Shakespeare. The language isn't as difficult to navigate as the references, especially in Shakespeare, which are historical as well as contemporary.
When considering the importance of Shakespeare or works that came before him, it is useful to consider the endeavor as trying to find one's cultural heritage. Many of today's popular literature is founded, deeply, in what has come before us. Irreverance and often the backdrops surrounding our most beloved characters have references much older than many can imagine. Even Harry Potter closely resembles elements of Beowulf, Chaucer, and Shakespeare to name the 3 of the more recognizeable.
Literature that has come before our time does tend to get treated with a little too much reverance, but the reasons people consider these classics to be important can't be denied.
This volume, lacking footnotes and perverting line structure, is still nifty in it's economical purpose, and is worth owning if you can make use of it.
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By A Customer on Nov. 19 2003
Format: Leather Bound
I must say, after reading the "review" about shakespeare,
the one discussing the "cult of shakespeare"...
What is the point of this posting? It's not a review of the
particular volume, instead it is a rather caustic opinion of
Shakespeare, which focuses on current society's teaching
and appreciation of Shakespeare's works, and not
the actual works themselves. Why is this relevant, and
why has it been posted? Is it entertaining? Are we really
interested in his personal criteria for judging literature?
In defense of Shakespeare and this volume, whether it be
printed nicely or not, to have his works present is better
than to not, even if some might say it's only taking up
shelve space. I've come to his plays later in life, and
of my own volition. I need no glossary or interpreter.
Quite simply, there is a reason that Shakespeare is still
performed, and written about today, and it has nothing
whatsoever to do with this faceless cult conspiracy theory
that this guy is referring to. It doesn't exist.
What does exist is a great body of work which will provide
much pleasure and entertainment. I suggest that the
comments made by the cult conspiracy guy be taken with a grain
of salt. Some people just can't accept greatness in others,
even if they are dead, and must convince themselves that
the greatness is imagined.
Long Live Shakespeare (cult member since 2003)
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Format: Leather Bound
The very idea of reviewing or giving stars to Shakespeare in this format is superfluous: he is the epitome of English literature. The source and inspiration for many subsequent classics, the well from which many popular expressions have sprung, the basis for many brilliant (and not-so-brilliant) stage and film renditions of these classics -- Shakespeare's literary greatness lies universally ackwnoledged and unquestioned. In reviewing any edition of the man's works, then, the reviewer's task is not to comment upon the work itself, but the presentation. This Gramercy edition of The Complete Works (yes, that's all 37 plays -- comedies, histories, and tragedies -- as well as all of the poems, sonnets included) is the most popular and widely-available -- and inexpensive -- version available. Is it the best? Well, no. Other reviews of this edition have commented upon its shortcomings -- extremely small print; very tight and hard-to-read layout; no margins for notes; no footnotes or annotations; no background information on the plays; errors, typos, and generally questionable editing. That said, this edition may have what you're looking for. It does indeed contain the complete works; it also has a few other small incentives: a hard cover that looks great on a bookshelf, a built-in bookmarker, and various illustrations. Clearly, this is not an omnibus for the Shakespeare scholar. If you want an edition of the bard for in-depth study or for academic use, you are better off buying more expansive editions of the individual plays themselves, with plenty of background info, notes, annotations, and space for your own writing; or else one of the more expensive editions of the Complete Works. That said, if you are just looking for a Shakespeare book that has all of his works in one place, that is convenient and, above all, inexpensive -- or you just want a Shakespeare tome sitting on your dust-ridden bookshelf to impress friends -- then you could do worse than picking up this.
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