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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best and most helpful single-volume edition
Students and various e-mail correspondents often ask me which single-volume Shakespeare edition I would recommend, and I never hesitate in naming this one, as I think it has a long lead over its rivals. I have myself used the 1992 printing with amazing frequency both in research and in teaching, and always with advantage.
Why is this the best edition for a reader who...
Published on April 2 2001 by Joost Daalder

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Kindle edition sucks
This review is about form, not content. And just about the Kindle version. Is SUCKS. It has no decent Table of Contents, which means that you can't easily find the individual plays. There is a hyperlinked TOC somewhere after the preface, which I found by accident, but under the Go to button there are only large chapters listed.
In some plays, eg in Hamlet, there is...
Published 8 months ago by Julia Biró


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best and most helpful single-volume edition, April 2 2001
By 
Joost Daalder "Joost Daalder" (South Australia) - See all my reviews
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Students and various e-mail correspondents often ask me which single-volume Shakespeare edition I would recommend, and I never hesitate in naming this one, as I think it has a long lead over its rivals. I have myself used the 1992 printing with amazing frequency both in research and in teaching, and always with advantage.
Why is this the best edition for a reader who wants as much as possible within the confines of a single book? First, it should be pointed out that unannotated editions such as the Oxford Complete Works are all in all of comparatively little use as even expert Renaissance scholars - leave alone inexpert readers - cannot read Shakespeare's language unaided; there are simply far too many words, features of grammar, etc., which a modern reader is certain to interpret inaccurately or not to understand at all. So it is essential to have intelligent and well-informed annotation that will help one to understand the text. Bevington's is extraordinarily good: knowledgeable, precise, and helpfully clear.
Second, an editor needs to be able to produce a responsible modernised text. Shakespeare cannot be understood by many unless he is read in modern spelling, and the punctuation of his period, too, often leads most modern readers astray. Bevington's modernisation of the text is exemplary. Furthermore, his handling of the many thorny textual problems is also outstanding for the knowledge and the judgement that he brings to bear. For example, the Oxford people unwisely and on poor grounds print two separate versions of *King Lear*, and Bevington has been exceptional in rejecting that approach and producing a persuasively and intelligibly "conflated" text (much better, by the way, than the conflated version in the Arden text edited in 1997 by R.A. Foakes).
Most readers of the plays who are not already quite familar with them will want good, perceptive and comprehensive introductions to them, and in this area, too, Bevington excels, demonstrating an awareness of modern approaches and interests without falling victim to trendiness. He offers introductions which are never dull but, however exciting and illuminating, always sensible.
The general introductory and accompanying material made available elsewhere in the book is equally useful, revealing, and accurate; and the book is well produced. It is amazingly cheap for the remarkable value it offers.
This, then, is not only the best single-volume Shakespeare available, but is by any standard as good an edition as anyone could possibly expect. I add that in my personal view Bevington is probably the only scholar at present alive who could have produced so excellent a single-volume edition. Unreservedly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Are You Reading What Shakespeare Really Wrote?, Oct. 19 2001
By 
Michael J. Connor (Waltham, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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The Complete Works of Shakespeare edited by David Bevington
Bevington's edition of Shakespeare's plays is a popular choice, and not without good reason. But that doesn't make an ideal choice. The introduction to this one volume edition is ample with chapters on life in Shakespeare's England, the drama before Shakespeare, Shakespeare's life and work. These are good, but they tend to rely on older scholarship and they may not be current. For example Bevington repeats Hinman's claim that there were 1200 copies of the 1623 Folio printed. However later scholars think the number was quite a bit lower, around 750. It should be said that we don't know for sure how many copies of the 1623 folio were printed and either number could be correct.
Bevington's edition prints the plays by genre. We get a section of Comedies, Histories, Tragedies, Romances and the Poems. He puts "Troilus and Cressida" with the comedies, though we know the play was slated to appear with the tragedies in the 1623 folio. The play was never meant to appear with the comedies, and all the surviving Folios that have the play have it at the beginning of the tragedies.
Let's get down to brass tacks. You are not going to buy an edition of Shakespeare's works because of good introduction. You're going to buy one because the quality of the editing of the plays. Is it reliable? Is it accurate? For the most part this edition is reliable and accurate, but that does not mean it is accurate and reliable in every instance.
Modernized editions of Shakespeare's plays and poems are norm. Since the 18th century (and even before) editors of Shakespeare have modernized and regularized Shakespeare's plays and poems. There are good reasons for this modernization. There is the reader's ease of use and the correcting misprints and mislination. I have no problem with this regularization of spelling or punctuation. But when an editor goes beyond normalizing and modernizing--when an editor interferes with the text then I have a problem.

Let me give two examples of the editorial interference that I am writing about:
King Lear 2-1-14 (p. 1184)
Bevington has:
Edmund
The Duke be here tonight? The better! Best!
This weaves itself perforce into my business.
The Folio has:
Bast. The Duke be here to night? The better best,
This weaues it selfe perforce into my businesse,
Even allowences made for modernization of punctuation and grammar would not account for Bevington's "The better! Best." Bevington glosses this to mean "so much the better; in fact the best that could happen." Nice try, but "The better best" of the folio is a double comparative, (which is a regular feature of Early Modern English) and not two separate adjectival phrases. Interestingly, the Quarto printing of Lear prints this scene in prose, and there is no punctuation between "better" and "best" in that version either.
A few lines down Lear 2-1-19 Edmund continues
Bevington has:
Brother, a word. Descend. Brother, I say!
Enter Edgar
But Bevington has reversed the order. The Folio has:
Enter Edgar.
Brother, a word, discend; Brother I say,
Bevington does not say why he changed the order, though to be fair other modern editors have done the same thing.
These two changes just a few lines apart go beyond regularization or modernization. They interfere with the text as presented in the 1623 Folio. And Bevington does not explain the changes. So next time you pick up this or any other modernized edition you should ask yourself "am I really sure what I'm reading is what Shakespeare wrote?"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential and Readable, March 7 2002
By 
Justin Evans (West Wendover, Nevada United States) - See all my reviews
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As of late I have seen some pretty strong arguments for reading Shakespeare (even if he really didn't write everything attributed to him). Most of my recent reasons have to do with my teaching high school English.
For my sophomores, it is Julius Caesar, and for my seniors, it is Hamlet. Having the need to read along with the students from a second text, I always reach for my Bevington Edition. I like having a second text available, but more importantly, I love having such a comprehensive discussion of Shakepeare at hand each time the moment arises(rare as they are) that a question comes up either during the reading or discussion. The Bevington edition serves me well whenever I teach Shakespeare because I can easily find important information quickly.
I also like the fact that the text is modernized in spelling, presented in a clean and legible font, while keeping an academic presentation in mind. For me this simply means I can read it for enjoyment as well as for teaching purposes easily and without any real problems.
I also like the way that the plays are organized. with many of the other complete editions I have owned throughout the years, chronological order gets to be a bother.
Now, I am no real scholar, but I have acted in several college level and other post-educational setting productions of Shakespeare, and from an actor's point of view the Bevington edition scores well again.
If you are deep into scholarly persuits I am certain you can find flaws within the Bevington edition, as could be found by any expert in any edited literary text. However, as far as an all-round, readable, and informative version of the complete works of Shakespeare (or whoever REALLY wrote all the plays etc.) the Bevington edition has my vote as the best one I have yet to see.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Well Done Edition, May 30 2000
By 
Adam Shah (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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David Bevington gives us a well-researched and useful edition of William Shakespeare's complete works. The bard's plays are, of course, indescribably good, and would be in any edition. Thus, an editor's job is to provide annotations to explain archaic vocabulary or 16th Century references which would otherwise escape us, to give the reader the best text available--since Shakespeare's plays were originally not written for publication but only for production on the stage, this is a recurring problem--to write short introductions to plays which guide a reader about certain themes recurring in the play, and to provide other helpful material in a general introduction and in end notes. Bevington succeeds at all these tasks. His annotations are, as a rule, helpful without being intrusive. Bevington seems instinctively to know when a word or phrase needs to be explained and when a description of a phrase not immediately obvious to modern readers would be more harmful than helpful by breaking up the flow of the text. His introductions to each play are insightful. A good example of this is Bevington's introduction to Much Ado About Nothing in which he explains that the Sixteenth Century pronunciation of "Nothing" was the same as the pronunciation of "Noting." Since the play involves numerous instances of people overhearing other character's conversations, the play's title has a double meaning--i.e., it is both Much Ado About Nothing and Much Ado About Noting. Finally, Bevington's introductory and concluding general remarks are also quite good. For example, Bevington gives brief descriptions of the Elizabethan stage and the history of Shakespearean productions over the last four hundred years in his introduction. He also gives his take on the controversy over whether Shakespeare wrote all his plays himself. After the plays, he gives the sources of the text for the various plays, including how the plays were first published.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Kindle edition sucks, Nov. 13 2013
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This review is about form, not content. And just about the Kindle version. Is SUCKS. It has no decent Table of Contents, which means that you can't easily find the individual plays. There is a hyperlinked TOC somewhere after the preface, which I found by accident, but under the Go to button there are only large chapters listed.
In some plays, eg in Hamlet, there is no graphical distinction between the lines and the names of the characters. It makes it very difficult to read. In other plays it is OK.
There is no page break (or even a line break) between plays or scenes or chapters. Basically there is very poor editing in the kindle version. All the features why you would buy an ebook (searchability, navigability) are gone.
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3.0 out of 5 stars slightly pedestrian, Dec 15 2013
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This compilation was/is targeted for the American college student. It has worked the originals into more comprehensible or approachable versions.
There is a good introduction, though meant for those who would be uninitiated to Shakespeare and his historical period. It is
well thought out, with notes that are brief and concise... a little too much for my taste. There is so much nuance and layered meaning in these works that I, personally, would prefer it to be somewhat dense and difficult in parts than to 'clear things up' for the sophomoric mind.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, June 29 2012
By 
Julie Adams (Montreal, Quebec Canada) - See all my reviews
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Bought it for a class, loved it. I still have even today, it's very complete with notes. It has all the complete work of Shakespeare. A+
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5.0 out of 5 stars I found this book please help, July 26 1999
By A Customer
I really don't have much to say other then my mother found this book in the trash it very old and is belived to be the orignal copy of this book and we can't find a date on it anywhere it a hard cover and has his picture on it, It says Complete Works of Shakespear on it if you have any information please contact me at cdkuf@prodigy.com Thank you
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Complete Bard, June 21 2004
By 
Bevington's Complete Works of Shakespeare is a priceless source for the writings of history's greatest author. All of the plays, sonnets and poems are contained, plus extensive commentary. An invaluable treasure for actors, producers, students, scholars, writers, and anyone else interested in Shakespeare. The Bard's canon is presented in an easily read format. Highly recommeded.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Complete Shakespeare available, Sept. 13 2003
By 
Q (The Continuum) - See all my reviews
Bevington's edition is by far the best Complete Works of Shakespeare available today. Why? First and most important, the footnotes give you just what you need to understand the play and no more. They're complete, concise, and accurate. The formatting of the footnotes also facilitates their accessibility. Second, the introductions to individual plays are marvelous--they get right to the most important critical issues that make reading the plays interesting, without being vague and out-of-date or pedantic, overly concerned with trivial minutiae. Third, the background essays are excellent and up-to-date. The essays on "The Drama Before Shakespeare," "London Theaters and Dramatic Companies," "Shakespeare's Life and Work," and "Shakespeare's Language" are among the best available anywhere, complete and concise, giving you exactly the information that is needed for studying and appreciating Shakespeare in the 21st century, without bogging down in unnecessary details. Consider also Bevington's The Necessary Shakespeare, which uses the same footnotes, introductions, and background essays, but includes fewer plays. It's possible to quibble with some of the editorial decisions, but unless you're writing a Ph.D. dissertation on Shakespeare, students and aficionados will want a good "reading edition" like the Bevington that includes the important variants. If you really want a completely "authentic" 17th century version, folio reproductions are now widely available.
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The Complete Works of Shakespeare (6th Edition)
The Complete Works of Shakespeare (6th Edition) by David Bevington (Hardcover - July 17 2008)
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