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The Complete Works of Shakespeare (4th Edition) 4th Updtd Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 539 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321012548
ISBN-10: 0321012542
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Sixth Edition
David Bevington

Why do we need a new edition of Shakespeare’s plays? Listen to what David Bevington has to say in his preface to this sixth edition:

“No period in history has seen such an extensive study of Shakespeare, and no period has experienced so many revolutions in critical method: feminist, new historical, deconstructive, post-colonial, and more. My attempt has been [constantly] to reeducate myself, to learn more about the complexities of meaning and the innumerable alternative possibilities that present themselves to the student of Shakespeare. Above all, I have tried to learn how to improve accessibility and clarity for today’s reader in the interpretation of this extraordinary body of dramatic literature.
My hope is that the sixth edition offers students and general readers the most accessible and usable Shakespeare anthology on the market.”


Surely one of today’s premier Shakespeare scholars, David Bevington is also an extraordinary teacher whose concern is always how to make these remarkable plays compelling for every reader. Bevington’s work addresses the primary problems most of us have with reading Shakespeare–an unfamiliarity both with the historical period and with the challenging language–by providing a comprehensive General Introduction that offers wide-ranging historical, cultural, and critical context for our reading, as well as clear, accessible, line-by-line glosses for the sometimes bewildering Elizabethan language and idioms. At a time when many of us come to Shakespeare by way of film, Bevington brings us back to the wonder of the words.

Also available: VangoNotes: How to Study Shakespeare offers a new way to hear and experience Shakespeare’s language through downloadable podcasts.

Visit us at www.pearsonhighered.com

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1706 pages
  • Publisher: Longman Pub Group; 4th Updtd edition (January 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321012542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321012548
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 8.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (539 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,285 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

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Perhaps, like me, you have held on to the Complete Works of William Shakespeare you've had since college and are wondering if the world really needs yet another edition of the Bard's complete output. Well, the Modern Library edition of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Shakespeare has a lot to recommend it. The text is beautifully set in single column format, making it easier for actors and those who wish to read the text aloud to scan the poetic lines and to distinguish between poetry and prose. Jonathan Bates's General Introduction is comprehensive, engaging, and lively. As with the introductions to the individual plays, Bates gives special attention to the performance traditions from which these plays emerged as well as those which would shape their interpretation over the centuries. This concern for performance issues is also addressed in the "Key Facts" boxes that follow every play introduction. Here the editors summarize the plot, identify the major parts (with percentage of lines and number of speeches assigned to each character, etc.), take a stab at identifying a dates of composition and first performance, and discuss the plays' sources and state of the texts available. There are ample, but not an overwhelming number of footnotes. And these notes, Bates assures us, do not shy away from discussion of Shakespeare's bawdier puns (something that may not be true of your old college textbook). Another real plus is the inclusion of a fragmentary scene from "Sir Thomas More" based on the only manuscript known to be in Shakespeare's own hand.

But the best reason to buy the RSC Shakespeare is because the editors have gone to great lengths to preserve the First Folio (1623) edition of Shakespeare.
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Format: Hardcover
Students and various e-mail correspondents often ask me which single-volume Shakespeare edition I would recommend, and I never hesitate in naming this one, as I think it has a long lead over its rivals. I have myself used the 1992 printing with amazing frequency both in research and in teaching, and always with advantage.
Why is this the best edition for a reader who wants as much as possible within the confines of a single book? First, it should be pointed out that unannotated editions such as the Oxford Complete Works are all in all of comparatively little use as even expert Renaissance scholars - leave alone inexpert readers - cannot read Shakespeare's language unaided; there are simply far too many words, features of grammar, etc., which a modern reader is certain to interpret inaccurately or not to understand at all. So it is essential to have intelligent and well-informed annotation that will help one to understand the text. Bevington's is extraordinarily good: knowledgeable, precise, and helpfully clear.
Second, an editor needs to be able to produce a responsible modernised text. Shakespeare cannot be understood by many unless he is read in modern spelling, and the punctuation of his period, too, often leads most modern readers astray. Bevington's modernisation of the text is exemplary. Furthermore, his handling of the many thorny textual problems is also outstanding for the knowledge and the judgement that he brings to bear. For example, the Oxford people unwisely and on poor grounds print two separate versions of *King Lear*, and Bevington has been exceptional in rejecting that approach and producing a persuasively and intelligibly "conflated" text (much better, by the way, than the conflated version in the Arden text edited in 1997 by R.A. Foakes).
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Format: Hardcover
The idea behind this edition is brilliantly simple: produce a modern edition of the First Folio. The editors do not attempt to produce a "definitive" text of Shakespeare. Their goal is more modest: to reconstruct, as closely as possible, the material that Heminges and Condell brought into the printing house in 1623. It is, they say, a snapshot of the playtexts at one stage in their evolution.

The various quarto and octavo editions are used to correct the Folio text (where that is obviously corrupt) but not to supplement it. Passages excised from the Folio are printed here in appendices and textual notes. Plays that didn't appear in the Folio appear in a different format in the back. (So too with the poems and sonnets.) If passages vary in wording between the early editions, the Folio receives precedence, as long as it makes sense.

The notes are also quite extensive about vocabulary and are franker than usual about sexual matters. The notes about historical events are not as extensive as those in the Riverside, but the chronologies, introductions, and other supplementary materials do provide the basic background. The introductions, by Jonathan Bate, are concise and steer a middle course between dramatic / thematic issues on one hand and developmental / textual issues on the other.

Like the Norton Shakespeare, the plays are here printed in single-column format, which greatly aids readability. Unlike the Norton, which prints the plays in approximate chronological order, the plays are printed here in the order they appeared in the First Folio. Highly recommended.
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