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.
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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.