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The Arden Shakespeare Complete Works Paperback – July 5, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard Proudfoot is Emeritus Professor and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies in the University of London. He is the author of Shakespeare: Text, Stage, and Cannon and numerous essays on Shakespeare. He is a general editor of the Arden Shakespeare.

Ann Thompson is Professor of English Language and Literature and Head of the School of Humanities at King's College London. She has edited Hamlet for Arden and The Taming of the Shrew for Cambridge University Press. 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.

David Scott Kastan is the Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, New York. His publications include Shakespeare and the Book, Shakespeare after Theory, and Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time. In addition, he has edited A Companion to Shakespeare, A New History of Early English Drama (with John Cox), and Staging the Renaissance (with Peter Stallybrass). He is one of the general editors of the Arden Shakespeare.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1360 pages
  • Publisher: Arden Shakespeare; Revised edition (July 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903436613
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903436615
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 2.2 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #978,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

224 of 233 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For those of us who love (and rely on) the individual editions of the Arden Shakespeare, the Complete Works is a huge disappointment. What has always made the Arden editions stand out from the others is the in-depth scholarly analyses and copious footnotes. The footnotes alone are worth the price of a copy but, guess what? In this edition, they've disposed of all but the most general of critical apparatus. Unfortunately, this serves to make this complete edition just another big book to put on your shelf to impress your friends. Curious readers who want assistance with the complex Elizabethan language in the plays will be much better served by the Folger or Bantam editions. That is, at least until someone gets smart and brings back all the individual Arden editions that have been allowed to go out of print! What were they thinking?
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful By JM Blackie on November 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
After discovering to my horror that my carefully boxed volumes of the Temple Shakespeare had gone to mold and stain, I sat around for a year or more with nothing but one of these "club" books printed on onion skin paper, with teeny-tiny print and nothing but "some" (?) editorial version of the plays. I needed to get my hands on something to use, something convenient, not expensive and all inclusive. The Arden Trade paperback edition was my first choice due to the respect generated by this edition and editors. Also, as it was not a hardcover, I envisioned myself happily schlepping it about with me on the subway, on the plane or train.... This was not to be.

1) The volume is HUGE and heavy and too unwieldy - trying to make notes or highlight this while moving about in public transportation is impossible.

2) As noted elsewhere, if an unfamiliar or forgotten archaic word pops up, you need to put your finger in your place, flop over to the back of the book (somewhere) to the glossary and hope the definition is there. There are NO footnotes; therefore, no on-the-go interpretation or editorial explanation of the line/word.

3) The essays and editorial intros are okay, but not as valuable or lengthy/specific as I've found in the Pelican/Penguin individually published volumes - one play, one volume.

If you're intending to use this for purposes I've described and are not such a Shakespearean scholar that you still need help from time to time with an explanatory note or definition, then stay away from this one and get the singles. I now have 4 collections of Complete Works, still searching for the "perfect" one. Riverside is closest to perfect, I love my very old Signet edited by Barnet and keep it at work for lunch hour browsing/reading.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By N. Schively on February 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I must agree with the reviewers who rated this volume so low because of the lack of footnotes. I remember being introduced to the individual Arden copies when I was acting in college - the footnotes were SUPERB, much better, more authoritative, more in-depth than anything else out there. I was hoping for the same with this collected works - but was quite disappointed not to find it.
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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I bought the famed Arden ed. of the Works of Shakespeare, shrink-wrapped. I peeled it open in glee...opened it...and...and...NO NOTES! What a waste of hard-earned money. I'd say stick with the individual plays in the Arden series in paperback. Sheesh!! (I rate the "book" two stars; Shakespeare gets five.)
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Shakes Lady Sarah on March 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
As an actress, I often use the individual Arden play texts. The footnotes are numbered as such and touch on not only definitions, but expressions, historical figures, and locations. These appear at the bottom of the page where the word or phrase appears. This "in-complete works" lacks these. It contains only definitions in a glossary at the back of the book. Not helpful in the world of acting and even less so as a teaching reference. Very disappointing.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Odom on November 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have taught several Shakespeare classes with several different texts. In the interest of my student's pocket-books I chose this complete works. The lack of editorial notes makes it unusable in class. I am also surprised by the decision to alphabetize the plays rather than arrange by date of composition (or presumed date of composition.)This is a sturdy volume, for a paperback, which is a mark in its favor, but the Riverside will be my edition of choice in all future classes.
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Arden Shakespeare without the notes and the full original critical essays is not the Arden Shakespeare. I eagerly picked this up in a book store and was standing in line for the cash register when I flipped through it to check my fond recollections. I was appalled and took it back to the shelf. Rather than buy this edition I will keep trying to complete my collection of the separate volumes. I wish somebody would bring out a single-volume edition of them instead of this travesty.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I received my copy in the post today and immediately immersed myself in it for several hours. This is a superb one-volume edition of Shakespeare's works. It's a very large format hardcover, with a very clear and readable font. The present editors have made some welcome innovations to the usual presentation of the plays, notably the full name of each character prefixing each delivery (as opposed to the normal abbreviation), and a reduction in unnecessary and distracting stage directions, most of which are editorial interpolations from previous editions. There's also a reduction in the size of the numerical annotation, making this the clearest, cleanest publication of Shakespeare's works I've yet seen. There's not much in the way of analysis, but the overview of Shakespeare's life and art, as well as the history of Shakespearian criticism and interpretation, is succinct and reasonable. I can't praise this book highly enough, and at the price offered it's worth every cent. A wonderful treasure.
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