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on September 20, 2015
Fantastic content and comprehensiveness spoiled by terrible sloppy formatting, lack of adequate notes, and difficulty of navigation.
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on March 26, 2015
great service and goods
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on November 13, 2013
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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on June 29, 2012
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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on June 21, 2004
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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on September 13, 2003
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get right to the most important critical issues that make reading the plays interesting, without being vague and out-of-date or pedantic, overly concerned with trivial minutiae.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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on April 18, 2003
Last year for Christmas I asked my parents for some William Shakespeare's plays.Boy was I suprised!Not only does it have all of the plays,but also his Sonats,poems,and illistrations.Despite the fact that it's a large valuem and will need quite a bit off book space from you're self.You wont regret getting it.You will never need to get another book on William Shakespeare's plays and everything else ever again.It also has a list of dictonary for understanding the words better.
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on October 26, 2002
When I was a first year in college I took a Greek Thought and Literature class with David Bevington. His lectures are very much like the introductions in this edition. It was one of the most rewarding experiences in reading literature that I have ever had and I am an avid reader. Recently I had been looking for the definitive Complete Works of William Shakespeare, and bought Mr. Bevington's edition immediately. I was not disappointed. This is the way Shakespeare should be read by modern audiences. His introductions offer many insights and are a joy to read. No library is complete without Shakespeare, this anthology of the Bard is surely one of the best one out there.
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on March 7, 2002
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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on October 19, 2001
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:
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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