"A pathbreaking edition, one that promises to change irrevocably our understanding of Shakespeare's greatest play."—Professor James Shapiro, author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare
"Hamlet's latest editors have undertaken a heroic task with great skill and thoroughness."—Stanley Wells, The Observer (UK)
"Quite simply the most comprehensive edition of the play currently available, a status I suspect it will enjoy for many years to come."—The British Theatre Guide
"Stunning! There is absolutely no doubt about this being the text to buy . . . for those students who will be studying the play at university. This critical edition gives the reader the Second Quarto Text (1604-1605), annotated with intelligence and care, a wealth of historical and cultural references and a survey of different critical approaches to the play."—The Use of English
Ann Thompson is Professor of English Language and Literature and Head of the School of Humanities at King's College London. She has edited The Taming of the Shrew, and her other publications include Shakespeare's Chaucer, Shakespeare, Meaning and Metaphor (with John O. Thompson), and Women Reading Shakespeare, 1660-1900 (with Sasha Roberts). She has also published widely on editing Shakespeare and Shakespeare's language. She is one of the general editors of the Arden Shakespeare.
Neil Taylor is Dean of Research and Dean of the Graduate School at Roehampton University. He has edited Henry IV, Part 2 and (with Brian Loughrey) Thomas Middleton: Five Plays. He has also published widely on editing Shakespeare, Shakespeare on film, and other aspects of Renaissance and modern drama.
I am currently working on my MFA/Directing. I directed Hamlet and am now writing my defense of it. I have two thoughts on this third edition.
After going through this edition, from a point of view of the script, I'm not sure I understand the need to update Harold Jenkins's 2d edition. The script itself was easier to navigate in the 2d edition and I thought Jenkins's notes were more helpful. I also disagree with some of what Thompson and Taylor have to say in their editorial notes below the script. That said, I am biased because I used the 2d edition as a sort of "Hamlet Bible" as I directed the piece. Jenkins's notes were extremely insightful and useful. I became very comfortable with it.
On the other hand, this third edition has some different insight into the play in performance than does the second edition, as well as information on casting and music that was not included in Jenkins. Obviously there is much written about William Shakespeare in the world, and this 3rd edition of Arden is probably the most up-to-date resource for bibliographic material (as well as some photos of past productions of the play). Jenkins edition is 24 years old, ancient in the scholastic world's "what's new" when it comes to sifting the vast quantity of material written on Shakespeare and Hamlet.
Obviously, the needs of the theatrical world for playing Hamlet are different than that of the scholastic world (of which I am currently stuck in both). I think Jenkins is more user-friendly for the theatrician while Thompson & Taylor suit the needs of the scholastic better. My final thought is that a scholar/student of Shakespeare will want to have both the second and third editions for the differences they have to offer.
The folks at Arden decided to bring forth all three versions of Shakespeare's revenge (or anti-revenge) tragedy so that those who care can study the similarities and differences between the texts for themselves. I teach many Shakespearean plays and using the "bad quarto" of 1603 in conjunction with the oft used conflated text is an eye-opener for students who get a chance to truly engage in the text when comparing, say, Hamlet's third act soliloquy of the Folio (1623) version with the often maligned 1603 version. As usual, the people at Arden do an excellent job at editing the works. This is an excellent companion piece to the recently released third edition of Hamlet by the same editors of the 1604 Quarto text. A welcome addition to any Bardolators library.
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When Henry James sat down to write on his Venetian travels for what later became the Italian Hours, he began with a disclaimer: "It is a great pleasure to write the word; but I am not sure there is not a certain impudence in pretending to add anything to it." Turning to Shakespeare, we might amuse ourselves by writing on, say, Hamlet, but can anything be said that's not already been said, and better, a dozen times, by superior critics and closer readers? In the appropriate spirit of humility (and in utter submission to the Bard and his great gift to civilization), I offer a few thoughts on the Arden 2nd Edition of Hamlet, and not on "the greatest work in the history of literature." Hamlet is by far the longest of the Ardens at 574 pages. It breaks down thusly: the prefatory material of editor Harold Jenkins - one of the Arden Series general editors and a Hamlet authority of great renown - alone takes up 164 pages. Three-quarters of this is bibliographical and historical. In his 40-page critical introduction, Jenkins addresses many of the plays thorniest problems, with the Talmudic attentiveness of the closest reader. Then comes the play itself, spread over 264 pages (in terms of sheer length relative to the Bard's other plays, the text is a monster, coming in at more than 3800 lines). Each page of the Arden includes an average half-page of Jenkins' detailed, argumentative, authoritative, and uncommonly helpful footnotes. The final 146 pages consist of longer (end)notes that Jenkins simply could not physically fit onto the bottom of a page. Many of these are short essays (including an appendix that glosses an earlier discussion on the dating of the play).Read more ›
I have no beef with Hamlet. This review is only about the version of the book. Amazon advertises it as the Folger edition, but what you actually get is some crappy book that has abbreviated names and huge spaces between lines. There are no line numbers or footnotes. There isn't even and Act or Scene header at the top of the page to remind you where you are. Whatever you do, don't fall for the 9.99 trap and instead buy the Folger edition.
I don't have a beef with Shakespeare, but with the presentation of this version of Hamlet -- the description (as noted if you look closely) is for an entirely different book, the Folger publication (which includes notes, glossary, etc etc). The book pictured here is solely the play. Fine for if you're putting on Hamlet and want to act it out, but not as helpful as a reference.
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