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The Norton Shakespeare [Hardcover]

Stephen Greenblatt , Walter Cohen , Jean E. Howard , Katharine Eisaman Maus
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, March 1997 --  
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Book Description

March 1997 0393970876 978-0393970876 1st
Comprising the complete works of William Shakespeare, based on the Oxford edition, this book has been edited and annotated to provide a single-column text. Each play has an introduction aimed at encouraging a fresh approach to the work. In the general introduction, the editor draws a picture of everyday life in Elizabethan England: the culture, the people, commerce, politics and religion. He describes Shakespeare's family life and his professional career as a working man of the theatre. He also discusses the printing and publishing of the plays, and recent developments in textual scholarship. Lastly, he considers questions affecting Shakespeare criticism. An essay by Andrew Gurr (University of Reading), on the staging of Shakespeare's plays explains, for example, how the plays were performed at the "Globe" theatre. An accompanying CD-ROM, "The Norton Shakespeare Workshop" is also available.

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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: 9.5 x 6.3 x 2.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #453,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
159 of 163 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the lot. March 2, 2001
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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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only Shakespeare you'll ever need! July 16, 2000
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.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One bard, one book September 18, 2000
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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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Choice October 12, 2006
By Buffy
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 ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gift for a Granddaughter
The Norton edition is highly regarded and based on reviews I read, I selected this lovely edition to give to a graduating granddaughter who loves Shakespeare. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Shakespeare One-volume Edition
This is the best, most scholarly one-volume edition of the complete works
of the greatest writer humankind has ever known. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Moola Saver
5.0 out of 5 stars yes
Very big book. Perfect condition. Shakespeare is epic. Take psychedelics and he will probably be even now cool. Yes yes
Published 4 months ago by Jonathan Torres
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely to read
Not only do you get all of Shakespeare's writing but: information about the plays, the time in history, maps, and many other gems. The only downside to this book is it is heavy! Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Its Huge!
This book is very bulky, but it was a great investment. I needed it for my classroom and it is nice to have them all in one place.
Published 5 months ago by Danielle Collins
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent
I cannot praise this stupendous work highly enough, it's an absolute treasure.
With its background essays, glosses, marginalia it is the gold standard for critical editions of... Read more
Published 5 months ago by pearl
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely the best Shakespeare anthology
This is the closest thing to a perfect volume I've encountered so far. The glosses are just above the words they elucidate, the character names appear in full in every instance,... Read more
Published 7 months ago by A Robot Bit Me
2.0 out of 5 stars Too heavy
Too heavy to carry to any class. More scholarship than I need for senior continuing education classes. Think hard before ordering.
Published 7 months ago by Carol C. Duncan
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I needed!
It came in perfect condition.
It has all the interesting imaginarium of the great W. Shakespeare
And it includes keen explanations of W. Shakespeare's plays in details.
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars If in doubt, whip it out!
The Internet is not as complete as this work is for solving all your Shakespeare questions. Anyone who has that burning desire to know what, where and why of the Bard; wants to... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Jay R. VanOrman
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