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The Norton Shakespeare 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393970876
ISBN-10: 0393970876
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In the crowded world of collected Shakespeares, there have been two notable works, The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford Univ., 1986) and The Riverside Shakespeare (Houghton Mifflin, 1997). The most recent edition of the Riverside explores developments in Shakespearean criticism, while the Oxford presents an innovation in the Shakespearean canon. It is the Oxford edition that forms the core of The Norton Shakespeare, destined to change the count of notables to three. General editor Greenbelt (Berkeley and Harvard) and editors Walter Cohen, Jean E. Howard, and Katharine Eisaman Maus, all noted scholars of the period, acknowledge their debt to the work of the Oxford editors. However, they use the strong foundation of the Oxford to create a new and wonderful text of great richness and depth. Their mission is to make Shakespeare accessible to modern readers. With lengthy introductions providing insight into Shakespeare's life and times as well as textual notes, marginal glosses, footnotes, and bibliographies, they more than achieve their aim. In addition, the work is designed for use in classrooms (the student version includes a CD-ROM) and to that end offers some fascinating textual editing to help both students and lovers of Shakespeare understand the complexity of his writing. With King Lear, for example, the editors offer three versions: the 1608 quarto text, the 1623 Folio text (on facing pages), and then a conflated version of the two so that readers can take their own measure of the merits of conflation. For Hamlet, the editors interpolated into the folio passages of the second quarto with different typeface and spacing so that readers can view the work as an organic text. The editors also seek to widen the reader's view of Shakespeare with additional essays by Andrew Gurr (Univ. of Reading) on Elizabethan and Jacobean expectations of theater as well as genealogies, an illustrated chronology of Shakespeare's life, and over 150 illustrations. The result is a work of immense scope, scholarship, and richness. Not only will it be a vital collection for years, it will become the standard to emulate. An essential purchase for all libraries.?Neal Wyatt, Chesterfield Cty. P.L., Va.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Stephen Greenblatt, General Editor, is the preeminent Shakespeare scholar in the US today. Walter Cohen is Professor of Comparative Literature and Dean of the Graduate School at Cornell. Jean E. Howard is Professor of English at Columbia and Director of the Columbia University Institute for Research on Women and Gender. Katharine Eisaman Maus is Professor of English at the University of Virginia. Editors of the Oxford Text: Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor, General Editors, John Jowett, and William Montgomery.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 3420 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (March 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393970876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393970876
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 5.9 x 3.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I confess that after examining 5-6 of the top-selling complete Shakespeares I tried not to like the Norton. There are less expensive editions, there are editions with glossy pages and colored photographs, there are editions that are half the weight and bulk of this leviathan, which is far more Shakespeare than the average reader--perhaps, even scholar, for that matter--would ever require. But despite its bulk and unwieldyness, its 3500 (!) thin, flimsy pages, its sheer excess, I couldn't ignore its advantages. The small print enables the publishers to squeeze in contextual materials--in the introduction and appendixes--that in themselves amount to an encyclopedic companion to Shakespeare's works; the introductions to the plays are written not in "textbook prose" but in an engaging style worthy of their subject; and perhaps, best of all, this is the only edition that places the glosses right alongside the "strange" Elizabethan word instead of in the footnotes. You can read the plays without experiencing vertigo of the eye. So this is the edition, though you may wish to go with the smaller, bound portions that Norton publishes of the same edition--especially if you can't afford the cost of a personal valet to carry this tome from home to office. On the other hand, the complete edition is excellent for doing crunches and other aerobic exercises--activities many of us who read the Bard are abt to ignore.
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By Buffy on October 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'd rather give this 4.5 stars, but I can't. As another reviewer said, one wants to not like this volume. It's expensive and there are some annoying things about it--for example, the paper is soooo thin you can practically read the recto on the verso--but it is all-around the edition I turn to most often. The Riverside (I'd judge it to be the other most commonly used anthology) is absolutely ungainly. Its paper is certainly better, but the thing is absolutely huge. Looks great on the shelf, but horrible to carry with you to class. I also dislike the Riverside's two column layout and system of notation, which puts notes and glosses at the bottom of the page without indicators in the text. The Norton puts glosses in the margin, which I find infinitely less disturbing and more likely to be helpful, and it numbers footnotes. It also uses a single-column layout, which I find much easier to read and allows a smaller paper size (same size as all the other Nortons out there, same Bible paper too) without a smaller font size. The introductions to the individual plays have been farmed out to some of the best in the biz, so it's not just Greenblatt's book. For what it's worth, his job on the introductory material in this volume matches the quality of what you expect from one of the leading figures in the field. What's more, the scholarly material is very readable and generally helpful. Yes, the take of that material is definitely influenced by new historicism and cultural materialism, but anything compiled in the last 20 years is likely to be similarly influenced. There is also some good theater history help here and some good old facts. If you have problems with the Oxford edition, then you'll have problems with this one. If you don't, then it should be fine.Read more ›
1 Comment 33 of 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Up until recently, the only Shakespeare I ever read was in school. Ten years later, I decided to reacquaint myself with his works. I checked this version out from the library and because it is so comprehensive, I eventually bought it.
With over 3,400 pages and all Shakespeare's known plays and poems, the high price of this book is well worth it. You'll probably never need another book of his works. The only downside is that it is very heavy (about the thickness of two hardcover novels) and the pages are extremely thin (and wrinkle easily).
Intended as a textbook, the editors of this edition add biographical information, glossaries, period illustrations and footnotes. If you're reading Shakespeare for pleasure, I would recommend reading the intro to each play after you have read it through once. The intros tend to give away a bit much of the story (this can be a plus if you're reading this for a class). I'm not suggesting that you skip them altogether, as they do add helpful insight and perspective to each play.
I haven't read all the plays yet, but my favorite so far is The Taming of the Shrew. This is the best play I've read in a long time. I laughed out loud in several places. I told the story to my 7 year old son and he even laughed! I also discovered that there is another play called The Taming of a Shrew that is similar to The Taming of the Shrew but with additional passages. These extra passages are also included in this edition.
The editors always let you know when more than one version of a play has been found. They include three known versions of King Lear. Two are presented on facing pages so that you can easily see the differences. They also include a conflated version, often used in actual productions.
I recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a little or a lot of Shakespeare.
Comment 49 of 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
As a fervent admirer of Shakespeare, this complete collection, comprising excellent introductions to each play and helpful textual notes as well as informative writings on the history of both England and the art of acting that shaped Shakespeare's writing, was like a dream come true. While before I had to walk around trying to find a good edition of the play I wanted to read, now I can open the Norton Shakespeare and read without being afraid of not understanding words or missing the point of the play. This book's obvious drawbacks are its heft and, as mentioned, its delicate pages, but these are easily outweighed by the abovementioned advantages! Buy it and read!
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