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Francis Bacon: The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – July 15, 2008
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This volume helps to illustrate the reciprocal relation between his career as a lawyer and a statesman and his writings in natural philosophy, moral philosophy, religion, and politics. * Rose-Mary Sargent, Metascience *
About the Author
Brian Vickers is a Professor of English Literature and Director at the Centre for Renaissance Studies, ETH Zurich.
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Though Vickers may have overdone the annotation, the notes are nonetheless exceedingly helpful. Vickers goes far beyond defining words. He provides concise and very well informed introductions to each individual piece; he points out how Bacon returns to topics, quotations, and metaphors; he identifies sources and allusions; he provides translations of Bacon's frequent use of Greek, Latin, Italian, and French. If he is overly cautious about how well his readers know English (he admits on p. 493 that he may be excessive), I expect that most readers will be grateful that he meticulously assists with words and phrases that have altered or vanished from use: who now will understand "a seeled dove" or "a net of subtility and spinosity"?
Vickers frankly acknowledges his debts to prior scholars, James Spedding and Michael Kiernan in particular. His introduction is concise, packed with information, and reminds modern readers that Bacon's career was a legal one. Vickers' decision to include two of Bacon's legal charges--one for poisoning, one regarding duels--was inspired; these pieces are short and eye-opening.
All in all, the selection pays tribute to Bacon in the best manner, refreshing his works by presenting them whole, with sympathy and respect, in their perilous historical context.
A bit of Latin wouldn't hurt either.
the book begins with a long preface, and two pages of chronology. The content was about 2/3 of book, and the rest 1/3 was the note. I am familiar with author's name Bacon, and I have recited the essay 51, of study, but I never expected such a long note at the end of the book. It indeed need such a long list of note. The English author used was not modern and the grammar was strange, let alone the anecdotes and jargon.
It is a good book, and it costs time to comprehend it, and it worth the time.
However, as I've been reading through the Essays, I've found myself more and more frustrated by Vickers' ridiculous annotations. Maybe one in forty pertains to something that really requires footnoting. The real problem is that the excessive annotation seriously impacts the readability of the text. Almost every sentence includes a footnote, and often more than one. The result is that the visual field of the text is heavily studded by the little bullets that Oxford uses to mark annotations. It's very distracting. I'd compare it to how reading a book that someone else has underlined has a hard to explain but clear impact on one's ability to read.
The other problem is that this incessant annotation makes Vickers the editor who cried "footnote!". I'm sure there are enlightening footnotes buried here, but the intolerable uselessness of most of them has made it so that I have largely decided to leave off consulting the apparatus altogether. One important function of reading a modern edition should be to have the advantage of modern editorial practices, but the unbelievable excessiveness on display here has effectively destroyed the value of the annotation. I would probably not assign this text to undergraduates given that they would be unlikely to derive any benefit from the apparatus.
A very disappointing edition. I hope that Oxford will update this in the near future.