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The Complete Works of Shakespeare Updated (4th Edition) Hardcover – Jan 8 1997

4.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Jan 8 1997
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1800 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 4 edition (Jan. 8 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321012542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321012548
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 21 x 26 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,978,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Back Cover

The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Sixth Edition
David Bevington

Why do we need a new edition of Shakespeare’s plays? Listen to what David Bevington has to say in his preface to this sixth edition:

“No period in history has seen such an extensive study of Shakespeare, and no period has experienced so many revolutions in critical method: feminist, new historical, deconstructive, post-colonial, and more. My attempt has been [constantly] to reeducate myself, to learn more about the complexities of meaning and the innumerable alternative possibilities that present themselves to the student of Shakespeare. Above all, I have tried to learn how to improve accessibility and clarity for today’s reader in the interpretation of this extraordinary body of dramatic literature.
My hope is that the sixth edition offers students and general readers the most accessible and usable Shakespeare anthology on the market.”

Surely one of today’s premier Shakespeare scholars, David Bevington is also an extraordinary teacher whose concern is always how to make these remarkable plays compelling for every reader. Bevington’s work addresses the primary problems most of us have with reading Shakespeare–an unfamiliarity both with the historical period and with the challenging language–by providing a comprehensive General Introduction that offers wide-ranging historical, cultural, and critical context for our reading, as well as clear, accessible, line-by-line glosses for the sometimes bewildering Elizabethan language and idioms. At a time when many of us come to Shakespeare by way of film, Bevington brings us back to the wonder of the words.

Also available: VangoNotes: How to Study Shakespeare offers a new way to hear and experience Shakespeare’s language through downloadable podcasts.

Visit us at

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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).
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Shakespeare is essential. At some point, you will encounter it. It has shaped the English language. It has embellished our vocabulary. This playwright and poet has a long portfolio, so gathering all of his works is quite a feat. The solution? This collectiong. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare is not only comprehensive, but surprisingly lightweight. Through a design that minimizes the number of pages, while refusing to sacrifice quality, this collectiong can easily be taken with you without breaking your back. It is also meant for those familiar with the language, so there are no wordy glossaries or appendices explaining the vocabulary. My only complaint? It's not hardcover, so overuse might wear out the bind.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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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