- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Modern Library (April 14 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812969162
- ISBN-13: 978-0812969160
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 181 g
- Average Customer Review: 638 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #232,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Macbeth Paperback – Apr 14 2009
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Praise for "William Shakespeare: Complete Works"
"A remarkable edition, one that makes Shakespeare's extraordinary accomplishment more vivid than ever."
-James Shapiro, professor, Columbia University, bestselling author of "A Year in the Life of Shakespeare: 1599"
"Two eminent Shakespeareans . . . have applied modern editing techniques and recent scholarship to correct and update the First Folio. . . . Superb."
"-The New York Times"
"A feast of literary and historical information."
"-The Wall Street Journal"
"I look forward to using it over many years, enjoying Jonathan Bate's perceptive comments, trusting Eric Rasmussen's textual scholarship."
-Peter Holland, president of the Shakespeare Association of America and editor of Shakespeare Survey
About the Author
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King’s New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as “an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers.” Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later under James I, called the King’s Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain’s Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.See all Product description
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And for those who need the support, Bevington's glosses, refined over the last four decades and seven editions, are really the cream of the crop, indeed the book's chief attribute: thorough, judicious, precise, they emphasize above all reader understanding and avoid detours into analytic or textual matters (subjects addressed lightly in relevant subsections). The texts themselves have similarly benefited from the years of refinement, at once incorporating recent scholarship, while also continuing the tradition of conflation (i.e., combining all relevant early versions of a given play into a single text), which saves both space and headaches for readers whose interests don't run to the academic. (One-volume editions with two or even three versions of "King Lear", for example, are common, and while these might be handy for university courses with an emphasis on textual matters, they seem unnecessarily specialized, not to mention bulky, in most other contexts.)
This edition, moreover, has all of the plays I want (incl. "The Two Noble Kinsmen") and none of the ones I don't (e.g., "Edward III", "Sir Thomas More", "Double Falsehood", multiple "Lear"s, etc. -- all worthy of note, but also of either questionable attribution or special / secondary interest, and better pursued separately). I was a hair away from selecting the Complete Pelican Shakespeare -- in many respects the ideal edition for a general reader, with the same style of annotation (line numbers indicating glosses), a very similar layout, thicker paper and roughly the same weight and dimensions (at about a third of the price) -- but it leaves out "The Two Noble Kinsmen" in favour of three (!) texts of "King Lear", so I regretfully passed it by.
As for critical discussion, Bevington's introductory essays, which I vaguely recalled being a bit thin in an earlier edition, are perhaps better described as dispassionate and evidence based, frequently drawing on quotations from the text to develop arguments and highlight points of interest. They're calculated to be of use and to offer insight, without recourse to elaborate theoretical frameworks and without unduly swaying the reader to a particular point of view. They might not crank you up with excitement before each play or poem, but they're always thoughtful, open-minded, wide-ranging and, again, focused on helping the reader understand and arrive at ways to engage with the text. (His essay on Hamlet in particular is unlike any I've read and distinctly satisfying.) I haven't gone through them all, but the ones I've sampled have been both enlightening and useful.
(The general introduction doesn't really turn my crank, alas, but there are plenty of interesting tidbits, critical and historical, sprinkled throughout, and I've never really been a reader of general intros, so take that as you will).
A few caveats. It's a well-bound volume, sturdy and handsome (though not so much as the Wadsworth reprint of the Riverside 2nd ed., which is just gorgeous and a joy to behold), but it's ultimately intended for students and it does look and feel like a textbook, with its blandly patterned glossy cover, its "Why Do You Need This Edition?" ad on the front end-paper, a list of "Key Features of the Seventh Edition" in the preface, and a "Why read Shakespeare today?" line to kick-off the general introduction. You forget all this while reading the plays, of course (and it lies flat and looks great on the page, which helps), but such compromises for the sake of (presumed) student appeal are more than a little unfortunate (if, that is, you're coming to it as a general reader like me and not as an undergrad). On the plus side, it'll probably wear like a textbook and last a good long while. (Here's hoping.)
Despite its textbook size, the book is surprisingly light (relatively speaking), weighing in at less than any but the (unannotated) Arden paperback edition, which has roughly the same dimensions and about 600 fewer pages. This is a remarkable achievement, but the trade-off, of course, is in the paper, the thinness of which gives rise to all the usual issues: visible print-through (which really bothers some, though not a deal-breaker here), delicate pages prone to crinkling / curling / even lightly staining along the edges with use (a bigger problem for me) and, perhaps most frustrating, occasionally tricky navigation, since the sheets can shift like water, slithering away when you try to flip through them. This is perhaps its chiefest drawback, but again, the book lies flat, reads beautifully, and weighs less than 4½ lbs. (and the pages are almost glossy), so there's only so much you can moan. (It's certainly not as bad as the Norton -- hoo boy.)
Given that you're already on Amazon there's perhaps no need to mention the price (it's a lot) and I suppose there's also the issue of occasional typos (which, if you like, you can send directly to Professor Bevington for correction, since he provides both his email and an invitation to write, just for this purpose), but on the whole it's a wonderfully helpful edition, carefully assembled by a meticulous and trustworthy editor, with fully-modernized conflated texts, giving you what you need on every page (but not forcing the issue if you don't), so yes -- one of the most reader-friendly one-volume Shakespeares available. Recommended.
This eEdition is relatively well done. It preserves the line breaks (which not all eEditions do) so that you can actually tell that the play is written in poetry. So far as I can tell, this has been accomplished by putting double returns at the ends of lines. So the text is double spaced, which is kind of odd, but not disqualifying.
At the price, a good choice.
If those words don't send chills up your spine then you are a Philistine. Great version of the play - copious clever and detailed notes. Single column reading and the notes are on the page they reference.
I got this for the Harvard MOOC - look it up - free Ivy League mock-credits for all.
For students reading at a lower level, I would recommend buying the children's book of Shakespeare's stories instead. There is also a graphic novel, although I prefer the children's version. It would depend on your goal. If you want the student to see Shakespeare's words, then this product would work. I wish it was around when I was learning Shakespeare!
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