le 13 décembre 2001
On a recent trip to England, I saw Twelfth Night at the RSC Theatre. Of course, being a TEENAGER who LOVES SHAKESPEARE, I had to stop by the Shakespheare Birth Trust Company and visit the house he lived in. That is where I picked up this wonderful book, along wih a few extras. I feel in love almost instantly with the cover art and the way it was printed. Including all his plays, sonnents and poems, it's a great collector item for Shakespeare fanatics.
le 6 septembre 2001
The modernised one-volume Oxford Complete Works edited by Wells and Taylor has little of significance to offer that is not bettered by its competitors. Its general introduction is thin and bland, and the introductions to individual plays amount to little more than one-page notes. There are no explanatory notes of any kind to accompany the words on the page, and the glossary at the end of the book offers very little help indeed. Thus readers are largely left to flounder on their own. There are certainly, as much publicity has assured us, a number of new textual features, but these are often characterised by a craving for novelty rather than that they have proved convincing or useful to many readers: fewer and fewer readers today really want two texts of *King Lear*, and the number of people inclined to believe the editorial arguments in favour of the so-called "two-text theory" is decreasing rather than growing; similarly, there are no truly good reasons for calling Falstaff "Sir John Oldcastle", etc. As the scholars who have put the edition together are very reputable and their handling of the text does deserve the attention of academics, scholars like myself do, of course, want to own a copy. But I use it sporadically, and hardly feel like recommending it to the non-specialist, who will be much better served by buying, especially, David Bevington's edition, or else - though very much as a second choice - the Riverside, or, failing that - and very much as a third choice - the Norton. - Joost Daalder, Professor of English, Flinders University (South Australia)
le 11 novembre 2000
I am specifically reviewing "The Oxford William Shakespeare The Complete Works--Compact Edition." In 1986 Oxford University Press published three volumes of its Complete Shakespeare: a modernized edition, an original spelling edition, and a textual companion. These three won general acclaim though some, say Eric Sams and Harold Bloom have expressed dissatisfaction. The original spelling edition is long out of print, and is highly prized by collectors. The textual companion is in print, but not by OUP, by Norton. That leaves the only the modernized edition in print by OUP. It is currently available in a compact hardcover edition, though a paperback edition is available in the United Kingdom. One of the general editors Stanley Wells wrote a good general introduction, but the introductions to individual plays are skimpy, generally not longer than a page, and not enough space is given over to the specific textual problems of each play. The plays are printed in a proposed chronological order. Because we do not know for certain which plays were written when, and in which order, the order is nothing more than the editors' best guess. The plays are printed in double columns and in a type size which looks like it is about 10 point size. The type looks small. I made a quick estimate and I found that there were about 90 lines on each page. The lines are numbered by five, except where a long line will bump the number to the next line.
Unlike some other complete editions if you are stuck on a difficlult passage you are left to your own devices. There a no footnotes, and the words in the glossary at the end are not keyed to any particular passage. The Oxford text does not lend itself to this kind of naked presentation.
The editors are very free with their use of early quarto and folio texts. Their editorial policy is flexible, so flexible that some could say it is inconsistent. For example with "King Lear" we get two versions, quarto and folio. These versions are of limited usefulness because readings from one version are freely introduced into the other and vis-a-versa, but with "Henry V" we get conflated version of the play where readings from the quarto are sometimes preferred to the superior folio text.
Above I gave the the compact edition four stars. I should by more specific. For uncritical readers I give this edition three stars. For critical readers I give four stars. And for critical readers who read it in conjunction with "William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion" I give five stars.
le 9 mars 2000
In contrast to some of the other editions of the complete works of Shakespeare, this book really is value for money. All plays (and poems, etcetera) are printed in a lavishly, pleasing way, very easy to the eye (one of the biggest drawbacks of some editions is that they use a very small font to keep the number of pages to a minimum). As others have commented, not much can and should be commented on the works themselves, they have stood the test of time, and the (normal) spelling that is used in this edition makes each reading an enjoyable experience. All the plays are given a brief (and somewhat succinct) introduction, which is, at best, okay. The strange things, in this book, are, for example, the order of the plays, the way King Lear is printed in two versions (that differ only in small details), and the inclusion of fragments that are attributed to Shakespeare (a bit controversial to say the least). Still, if you want to buy a good, thorough, and well-researched edition of the complete works of Shakespeare, you will not go far wrong with this book.