Customer Reviews


 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


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

versus
3 of 3 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 20 months ago by Julia Biró


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

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
(REAL NAME)   
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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
(REAL NAME)   
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?"
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Kindle edition sucks, Nov. 13 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespere as it was meant to be read, May 18 2002
By 
S. A. Garrett (VA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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
(REAL NAME)   
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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
(REAL NAME)   
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Book for Shelf - Not Terribly Accessible Shakespeare, Jan. 6 2004
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. :)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars It's NOT Old English, June 11 2004
By A Customer
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.
LL.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars In Defense of Shakespeare, Nov. 19 2003
By A Customer
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)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Complete Works of Shakespeare (6th Edition)
The Complete Works of Shakespeare (6th Edition) by David Bevington (Hardcover - July 17 2008)
CDN$ 114.00
Usually ships in 9 to 14 days
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews