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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Me thinkest thou protests too loudly.
I find this very interesting, at least one of the reviewers who gave such a low review not only reviewed this book, but every other book in this Ignatius Critical Series edit by Joseph Peace. In each one, he gives only one star, basially saying the book is a waste of time and money.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark!

Why would someone,...
Published on May 22, 2009 by Mr. Paul A. Ackermann

versus
2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars unscholarly, unacademic, polemical, political: GO WITH NORTON OR CAMBRIDGE OR OXFORD EDITIONS INSTEAD
The over-heated sales pitch on the product page makes promises the book cannot keep, and casts ideological disfavor upon the most accepted academic treatments of this great play. The sales pitch cannot be lived up to. For example we hear there that in the introduction editor Joe Pearce, writer in residence at Ave Maria College in Florida, will do the following:...
Published on January 6, 2009 by C. Scanlon


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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Me thinkest thou protests too loudly., May 22, 2009
I find this very interesting, at least one of the reviewers who gave such a low review not only reviewed this book, but every other book in this Ignatius Critical Series edit by Joseph Peace. In each one, he gives only one star, basially saying the book is a waste of time and money.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark!

Why would someone, keep on reading all the books in this series, and then say that reading them is a waste of time? It just does not make sense! Not only that, but the majority of the book is giving nothing but the text of Hamlet. How can any true fan of Shakespeare give that one star. Just the text of Hamlet alone would make it at least 2 stars.

So it seems to me that there are some here who have a hidden agenda of not wanting me to read this book - not because of its allegedly poor literary value. So the more they protested, the more I was intrigued.

So I got the book, and I am so glad I did! For the first time, Hamlet came alive to me. The footnotes were enough to hep be understand the arachaic phrases, but I was not overwhelmed with them. The editor wanted Shakespear to speak for himself. None of the footnotes tried to persuade you to their interpretations. That was left to the commentaries after you read the Hamlet story.

The commentaries were extremely insightful, looking at Hamlet from a Catholic perspective. And why not? Other commentaries look at Hamlet from a modernist or a feminist perspective. Why not from a Catholic perspective? Again, I do not understand these one-star critics. If they were really fans of Shakespeare, they would be happy to see a book like this that would broaden Shakespeare's audience. But it seems they would rather that Hamlet never be read than to read Hamlet from a politically incorrect view.

To read why Shakespear was probably a Catholic and was writing from a Catholic persepective, you may want to read The Quest for Shakespeare
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent critical text with helpful notes, October 1, 2010
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I've been teaching Hamlet using this text for about two years (four semesters) to college freshmen/sophomores in a general composition/literature class. The Ignatius edition is the best that I've used (and I've used several); I put it slightly ahead of the Folger edition. (The Folger edition does have the advantage that it includes plot summaries of scenes -- very helpful to beginning Shakespeare readers -- which the Ignatius lacks.)

The essays that are included are solid and insightful. They are particularly helpful in helping readers understand the Christian context of the play. Regardless of whether or not the reader is Christian, it's necessary to understand Christian ideas about sin, repentance, and justice in order to grasp the nuances of the play. When students are encouraged to really think deeply about these topics, they end up making connections between the events of the play and the events of their own lives -- for instance, about the struggle between desire ("I want what I want" -- just like Claudius) and reason ("I want to do what is right -- but how do I figure out what that is?" -- like Hamlet). This edition has been the most useful for me in terms of helping my students to do this kind of deep thinking.

On a practical level, I like the editor's choices about what words to gloss; to any adult reader who has read a lot of Shakespeare and other classic authors, the vocabulary glosses may seem like overkill, but it has been my experience that my 18-22-year-old students need and benefit from them.

It is helpful that the glosses are footnoted rather than end- or side-noted; this makes it easier to find them if you need them, while not being too intrusive if you don't. Visually, it's an attractive edition with plenty of white space -- important for taking marginal notes! - and the full names of characters spelled out.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars unscholarly, unacademic, polemical, political: GO WITH NORTON OR CAMBRIDGE OR OXFORD EDITIONS INSTEAD, January 6, 2009
The over-heated sales pitch on the product page makes promises the book cannot keep, and casts ideological disfavor upon the most accepted academic treatments of this great play. The sales pitch cannot be lived up to. For example we hear there that in the introduction editor Joe Pearce, writer in residence at Ave Maria College in Florida, will do the following:

'"To be or not to be", may be the question, but the answer has eluded many generations of critics. What does it mean "to be"? And is everything as it seems to be? These are the questions that are asked and answered in the introduction by Joseph Pearce, author of The Quest for Shakespeare'

Good for you, Joe, but you do not. His critically discredited The Quest for Shakespeare is also published by this sectarian Ignatius press.

It is only fair to share with you who writes these "tradition-oriented critical essays by leading Shakespeare scholars that can be found in this groundbreaking edition of Shakespeare's masterpiece" and wonder what ground is being broken here beside Ophelia's unhallowed grave. This information is strangely difficult to discover. Each of the essays is about a dozen paperback pages long, with a few rather shorter. The publication history of these essayists is rather in the backwater publish-or-perish field of professorial publication and mainly unread even by their peers. It is not from the top level of Shakespearean scholarship as you will find in Hamlet (Norton Critical Editions), in Hamlet (Oxford World's Classics) or in the Hamlet: The Texts of 1603 and 1623: Third Series - Paperback (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series).

In fact, in the text of the play as published here under Pearce's direction we get none of the usual textual comparisons of the various versions as found in usual academic editions. We are accustomed in Critical Editions to find a central band on each page comparing the various versions produced in Shakespeare's lifetime as well as after, including normally such later editors as Theobold, Pope, etc., up to the modern age. We have none such variorum here.

Normally in a critical edition we find at the bottom of the page footnotes to explain terms unfamiliar to the modern reader, with reference often to the OED, etc. Here we find perhaps five glossings per page, usually of terms which need no explanation, as if Joe Pearce was searching for something to do, and only provides a few words of explanation each. There is also none of the usual Sources and History of the Text as we are accustomed. Get thee to a Norton; Go!

First off in the essays is Crystal Downing, professor of English and Film Studies at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, who has been published in the Literature / Film Quarterly and who has published by equally unknown publishers two books: a study of Dorothy L. Sayers for Palgrave in 2004 and "How post-modernism serves (my) Faith" for IVP Academics in 2006. In fact her essay here is rather post-modern, entitled Reading Hamlet, exploring how we learn to read, well, Hamlet by the reading, or not.

The next essay is by Anthony Esolen, author of the archly right-wing polemical screed The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Politically Incorrect Guides) and professor of Renaissance English Literature (think about that term for a moment) at Providence College in Rhode Island (another religious school). He also edits the right wing Touchstone magazine. His essay is full of praise for the "simple" soldiers as the only honest and honorable folk around, capable of reason, and with "their language manly and direct (p. 204)." He condemns post-modernists who require us to read in a certain way, and he condemns "naive rationalists." He even manages to condemn "that nation of manners, France." He praises however the soldiers' "humility and honesty (which) open their hearts to a wider reality than the materialist can know." He uses such indecipherable phrases as "psycho-facial absurdity" in describing the marriage of
Claudius to his sister-in-law, and has frequent recourse to manly talk, including noting a particularly "easy masculine banter" among Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and a very wary Hamlet who is probing them to find their allegiances, which they conceal. This is in fact not easy banter of any gender. He has frequent recourse as well to the presence of God, including finding God in the "crowing of the cock in whom God has planted foreknowledge" including of the last day and its judgment. He sees the "imperturbable light of God" which may answer the sales pitch's question: "To see or not to see, that is the question. The Ignatius Critical Edition of Hamlet will help many people truly see the play and its deepest meaning in a new and surprising light." He ends with an agonized and ancient rhetoric for Claudius which could ring out from any church pulpit but seems out of place in this self-proclaimed "critical edition": "Could he (Claudius) but fling himself
upon that mercy more lovely than man's greatest beauty and more terrible than man's direst fear, he could yet be forgiven and all might be well. But he does not. Words are all he mouths, and he is wise enough to know and to confess that God requires more. Thus he ends with the saddest words of the play: (here Eselon quotes what are not Claudius' last words but from a much earlier scene, when Hamlet found Claudius apparently praying, but whose words remained below. Then Eselon concludes:) Let all us Danes heed the warning (p. 215)."

This is just embarrassing. This is to publish or to perish. We must confess that a critical edition requires more. These are the saddest words of this unfortunate edition. Words are all he mouths.

The next essayist is Gene Fendt, of the University of Nebraska at Kearney, author of Is Hamlet Cristian Drama for Marquette and Love Song for the Life of the Mind: The Purpose of Comedy for the Catholic University of America. Here he writes a dozen pages entitled Psychology, Character and Performance but which never leaves Aquinas. He forces newer wine into old scholastic skins. The whole essay essentially creates an Aquinan school of psychology, and attempts to use scenes from Hamlet as example. Remarkably these essays all seem to examine the same scenes, none in great depth. Needless to say, Fendt handily dismisses the paper tiger of the empiricists, as Eselon did his naive rationalists and materialists.

Next, Richard Harp of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (OMG!) attempts in a needlessly convoluted and disorganized manner to prove that Hamlet is not a melancholic procrastinator as supposed (by whom, the evil postmodernists?) but a hero in the ancient and classical sense, one determined to discover truth and to seek justice. His conclusion: "Hamlet is a great but a tragic figure." For this I need a Critical Edition?

Next we have Andrew Moran, assistant professor at the University of Dallas and former associate of Joe Pearce at Ave Maria College in Florida, who presents himself as studied in Shakespearean Meta-drama (hello?) and here adds a dozen pages on Hamlet's foil.

Then, Jim Scott Orlick of Boyce College in Louisville Kentucky where he teaches Literature and Culture and has six daughters writes about eight pages on Providence (not the college in Rhode Island) and Who's in Charge.

Finally R. V. Young of North Carolina State writes under ten pages on Residual Catholicism in Shakespeare, and on Spiritual Freedom and Tyranny (as which would he characterize the current papacy?) R.V. is a contributer to such far right wing publications as the National Review, the WEEKLY Standard (OMG!!), the Saint Austen (sic) Review (so written here with RV; under Joe Pearce's bio it is spelled Saint Austin), Touchstone (noted above) and First Things. His one publication is a bilingual edition of Justus Lipsius's Concerning Constancy.

Do you get the picture yet? Please, for a real and acceptable Critical Edition do not go to the Ignatius series, which is only hollow ideological and political propaganda. Stay with the traditional Arden, Oxford, and especially the Hamlet (Norton Critical Editions). For an economical basic edition try the Hamlet (Pelican Shakespeare)or the Hamlet (Penguin) (Shakespeare, Penguin), any bird beginning with P that is not Pearce!
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Ignatius Critical Edtions: Hamlet
Ignatius Critical Edtions: Hamlet by William Shakespeare
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