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Richard III (Folger Shakespeare Library) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, on England’s Avon River. When he was eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. The couple had three children—their older daughter Susanna and the twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet, Shakespeare’s only son, died in childhood. The bulk of Shakespeare’s working life was spent, not in Stratford, but in the theater world of London, where he established himself professionally by the early 1590s. He enjoyed success not only as a playwright, but as an actor and shareholder in an acting company. Sometime between 1610 and 1613, Shakespeare is thought to have retired from the stage and returned home to Stratford, where he died in 1616.

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Product Details

  • Series: Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Mass Market Paperback: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743482840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743482844
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Laszlo Matyas on November 22, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It may not be Hamlet, but Richard III is still one of the finest works of literature ever created, in any medium. It's a classic piece of Shakespearian (and therefore, literary) character development, full of irony, wordplay, nuance, tension, imagery, and jaw-dropping poetic virtuosity. Shakespeare's Richard III is simply one of the most hypnotic and effectively portrayed characters of all time- he's a calculating, ruthless, cooly charismatic megalomaniac with bitter past and a knack for heroic feats of rhetoric. He's the quintessential antihero, a thoroughly despicable human being who is nonetheless incredibly fun to root for. Witnessing his swift, ruthless rise to power is a sheer visceral rush, and his monologues are deftly conceived works that drip with side poetry, cutting humor, and an almost charming sort of egotism. Reading or watching the play, one feels like they're the wicked king's confidante and co-conspirator, being allowed the unique privilege of peering into the amoral genius' twisted soul. The experience is exciting and cathartic. Of course, there's more to this play than one great character- the plot (which offers a seething glimpse of a chaotic post civil war England) is complex and engrossing, and sees Shakespeare hurling satirical darts at the corruption and pretensions of the nation's leaders. By allowing Richard to succeed by appealing to the greed, lust, and folly of those around him, Shakespeare sends a powerful warning about the cyclical nature and bottomless pitfalls of political villainy and oppression. At the same time, he paints a grim portrait of the ultimate outcomes of greed, egotism, selfishness, vengeance, and megalomania that still rings true to this day (and will probably do so until our species is extinct). Classic.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Marsella on September 12, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Shakepeare's Richard is evil and manipulative to such an extreme degree that even his physical deformity cannot match up to the inner deformity that is revealed to the reader/audience in his private soliloquies. Having been portrayed as a conniving usurper to power by Thomas More during the early Tudor era he is actually savaged by Shakespeare and his legacy in historical terms has become one with the characterization that the bard gave us.

Richard is a muderous liar who kills anyone who gets in his way and he is contrasted with the righteously portrayed young Henry VII who returns from France to set things right.

The play is a wonderful read and study in Machiavellian manuevering for powers sake.

From the setting up of his brother Clarence to the murder of the young Princes in the Tower Richard who takes the audience into his confidence gradually becomes as appalling a character as Shakespeare ever created.

Much of what is later revealed of the capacity for people to scheme against their fellows in Claudius and Iago in the respective tragedies of Hamlet and Othello is begun here in Richard III.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alan M. Shearer on December 24, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I chose this Folger edition of the play because I have used these editions ever since I was a drama student in high school. I always like the way the footnotes and definitions of obscure words are interspersed with each page of text. These are among the most readable editions because one can quickly find the footnotes while reading, without interrupting the reading to flip to another page. Footnotes tend to be very small in print in some other editions, as well. The type set or font here is of a size that makes for ease in reading.
Of course, one should read many of the fine editions of other paperback and hardbound publications of Shakespeare to get to know the plays in depth. But the Folger PB copies are well-priced, and a very good choice for a first reading of any play.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gene Zafrin on January 17, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The play's appeal is disturbing. The self-proclaimed "naked villain", the murderer who knows neither pity nor regret, the conniving and lying viper is by far the most interesting character of the play. Richard's main merit is having Shakespeare speak for him. By virtue of spending more time on stage than any other character, Richard commands disproportionate attention from Shakespeare and enjoys the good fortune of Shakespearean language. From "the winter of our discontent" to "my kingdom for a horse", almost all memorable expressions are Richard's. For all his macabre plots, he is playful with language. He puns (as when he is treating "naught" as "naughty" in response to Brakenbury who is leading Clarence to the Tower). He cleverly finishes Margaret's long diatribe against him with a single "Margaret", sending the volley of her curse right back at her. He shows the widest range of emotion, from self-assured wisecracking to rambling rage.

For all his scheming evil, Richard has some remarkably attractive qualities. He can be disarmingly honest with himself and with the audience: he is surprised that Anne may see in him a "marv'los proper man" (he sees no such thing), he is fully aware that his "all not equals Edward's moiety" and that he "most plays the devil". Such self-reflection adds another dimension to Richard and compares favorably with simple self-involvement of some 20th century villains - certain heads of Communist and Nazi states. He is anything but a coward: at the end of the line, unhorsed, he continues to fight Richmond and despises Catesby's suggestion to withdraw.

The unquestionable evil that finds ways of being attractive creates an unsettling tension and sense of imbalance. Perhaps this is one of the qualities of great literature: it unobtrusively stirs up the embers of the reader's soul using its only poker - art.
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