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The complete works of William Shakespeare, with themes of the plays Hardcover – 1937

3.9 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Walter J. Black; First Edition edition (1937)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007DRHNS
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 13.5 x 4.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 794 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Leather Bound
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.
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Format: Leather Bound
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. :)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Accomplishes what you would expect. Due to its size, you can read one of the plays in a mere 20 pages (in contrast to the single plays which are often sold as 200 page books). The downside is that you do not (for obvious reasons) get as much information and background for each play, and you also sacrifice having the close translations of words, passages, historical/mythical allusions, and proverbs. There is a glossary in the back, yet I would not recommend this kind of collection to someone who has difficulty comprehending Shakespeare. Luckily I have read enough to get through the plays without translation, but I still feel as though I missed some things in terms of allusions and archaic puns and proverbs.
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Format: Leather Bound
To buy an unannotated Shakespeare volume like this, where even the quality of the text is in doubt, is a pure waste of money. Anyone who feels it is good enough to buy an unannotated text should at least make sure to get a good, well-edited one: for example, a second-hand copy of Peter Alexander's edition (the so-called "Tudor Edition", originally published by Collins in 1951). The text prepared by Alexander remains one of the very best.
It really does matter what text one buys, as various editions differ greatly in the quality of what they produce. It is by no means the case that all editions of Shakespeare offer the same text, as one would expect if one bought a work by a modern author. Furthermore, it is impossible to read Shakespeare - even if you are a specialist in Renaissance literature - without plenty of help, none of which is supplied in this edition. A good edition, like that produced by David Bevington, or the Riverside, will contain the following helpful components as a minimum: a comprehensive introduction to Shakespeare and his work generally; reasonably full analytical/interpretative introductions to individual works; lists of further reading (referring the reader to other helpful commentators); and above all - most essentially - useful explanatory notes on words, phrases, and sentences difficult to understand. Of these there are a great many. Anyone who approaches Shakespeare as a modern reader without knowledgde of the language of his period will soon find all sorts of words and grammatical usages that obviously are no longer current. But even more treacherous are those many instances of words that LOOK the same, but MEAN something very different, as a result of the fact that the meaning of words changes over time.
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Format: Leather Bound
I am a professional actor and teacher of Shakespeare. This is a vastly inferior edition of Shakespeare's complete works. There is no room in the margins for making notes. There are no footnotes to aid the reader with antiquated language and references. The binding is insubstantial and the gilding sticks to other pages. I picked this book up at a bookstore once and thought I would enjoy such a pretty and portable copy of Shakespeare's works. As soon as I opened my copy of the book, I immediately returned the book to the bookstore. I found misspellings and errors and the type was so tight, I found the text difficult to read. Try to save your money for the Riverside Shakespeare (a book you and your family will enjoy for years, mine is 25 years old) and use the Folger if you need to by one play at at time, but go to the library for your Shakespeare before wasting your money on this piece of junk. The notes are helpful and aid in the enjoyment of the text. Avoid this book!
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Format: Leather Bound
Of course, this does not reflect on Shakespeare. The binding is terrible and the publisher seems to have forgotten the well established convention of including line numbers with the texts. If anyone expects to use their volume for a class or ever expects to need to refer to a specific line in the text, you shouldn't buy this edition. Also, there are no footnotes, another convention established because Elizabethan English differed significantly from modern English. Finally, the publisher seems to have decided that it was just not necessary to leave enough space for each line, often ending a line in the space above, which is the first time I've ever seen this done. Just buy the Riverside, Folger, Yale, or Oxford Shakespeare. Don't waste your money with this.
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