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"Titus Andronicus" (Arden Shakespeare.Third Series) (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series) [Paperback]

William Shakespeare , Jonathan Bate
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 Mar 1995 1903436052 978-1903436059 New Ed
After centuries of vilification and neglect by both scholars and actors, Titus Andronicus has at last come to be recognized as one of Shakespeare's early masterpieces. In this powerful and ground-breaking edition, Bate offers a complete and radical reappraisal of Shakespeare's bloodiest tragedy, seeing it as one of the dramatist's most inventive plays, a complex and self-conscious improvisation upon classical sources. Bate's introduction does full justice to the play's artfulness and sophistication, puts forward new arguments regarding the play's date, sources and early stage history, and devotes extended discussion to great modern productions such as those of Peter Brook and Deborah Warner.In an age in which dramatic representation of violence has become an issue of enormous controversy, Titus Andronicus is the essential play; Bate's seminal edition indicates just how far, with this early work, the young Shakespeare has already travelled towards the masterpiece of his maturity, King Lear.'a great edition of a great play'Julie Taymor, Director TITUS, 20th Century Fox, 1999"Bate makes a really positive virtue of his treatment of the play in performance...putting a vigorous account of Titus on stage at very stage-centre in his Introduction. Using this section as a means for raising fundamental questions as to the play's style, coherence, and meaning, Bate achieves a remarkable fusion between performance history and criticism." John Jowett, Shakespeare Survey'impressive and exciting'Barry Gaines, University of New Mexico, Shakespeare Quarterly'This is an outstanding edition of Titus, especially for its treatment of textual questions and of recent performance history. It supersedes all previous editions'Dr P Hartle, St Catherines College, Cambridge

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Product details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Arden Shakespeare; New Ed edition (16 Mar 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903436052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903436059
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.5 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

Shakespeare's most violent and gory play, Titus Andronicus was written in 1592, and represents the dramatist's first foray into the popular genre of revenge tragedy (many editors argue with at least one other collaborator). The result was spectacular, including scenes of murder, human sacrifice, rape, bodily mutilation and cannibalism. Set in late-imperial Rome, the action begins with the Roman general Titus Andronicus and his triumphant return from wars with the Goths. Leading Queen Tamora and her sons as prisoners, Titus stumbles into a power struggle between Saturninus and his brother Bassianus. Titus fatally backs Saturninus, who rapidly turns on the old general and marries Tamora. The implications for the Andronicus family are disastrous. More of Titus' sons are killed, his daughter Lavinia is brutally raped by Tamora's sons, and as Titus begins his descent into madness and despair he even has his own hand cut off in an act of awful trickery. As Titus plots his bloody revenge, he reflects that "Rome is but a wilderness of tigers". The ending is one of the most gruesome conclusions to any dramatic tragedy, and leaves Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs looking quite restrained. Although the play has put audiences off for centuries due to its apparently gratuitous violence, more recently critics have discerned something more to it than pure shock, but that might say more about us than the Elizabethans. .--Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"This is an outstanding edition of "Titus", especially for its treatment of textual questions and of recent performance history. It supersedes all previous editions."--Dr. Paul Hartle, St. Catharine's College, Cambridge "Bate makes a really positive virtue of his treatment of the play in performance . . . putting a vigorous account of "Titus" on stage at very stage-centre in his Introduction. Using this section as a means for raising fundamental questions as to the play's style, coherence, and meaning, Bate achieves a remarkable fusion between performance history and criticism."--John Jowett, "Shakespeare Survey"

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First Sentence
When the notices of Titus Andronicus came out, giving us full marks for saving your dreadful play, I could not help feeling a twinge of guilt. Read the first page
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Copyright | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare at his best and most bloody 21 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Titus Andronicus... The story of a man who has spent his life in servitude to Rome and his Ceasar. He has had 25 sons, and at the beginning only five are left alive. He loves his children, yet when his daughter betrays him, and his son Mutius stands in his way, he cuts him down without a second thought. When his daughter LAvinia is mutilated (hands cut off, tongue cut out), he kills the perpetrators (bakes them in a pie Sweeny Todd style) then murders his daughter for the dishonour of being raped.

Tamora, Queen of the Goths (Germans)... a feisty, power-hungry woman who is an early Queen Margaret (Henry VI) and Lady Macbeth together. She swears revenge on Titus for the murder of her sons in Act 1, Scene 1

I'm hoping a pattern is beginning to emerge for you :p This is Shakespeare's first revenge tragedy, and he copies heavily from Thomas Kyd. For if Kyd is said to have 'out-Herod Herod' (in terms of being nasty and brutal in dealings with people) then Shakespeare in this play is trying to out-Kyd Kyd :)

I was once told that this play, out of all 38 plays, can be neatly summed up as the WTF play :p x
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be overlooked. 12 Oct 2010
By Chris
Format:Paperback
Titus Andronicus is probably one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays to most; I only read it as an outreach to something different, and to, hopefully, be surprised. I was very pleased with my choice as I enjoyed more than I did Othello (possibly just me, but I did none-the-less). However, I am not going to review Shakespeare as there are those far more qualified than I; I will just say that it is not your average Shakespeare play, lots of gruesome parts and no real love story going on.

I will review the Arden edition that I have purchased though: a fantastic set of explanatory notes, the indroduction by Jonathan Bate is one of the best by Arden I've read, with plenty of interesting topics to discuss and mull over and the appendices are another great set of notes. The publishing quality is very good, as always with Arden, too.

Overall, a great purchase, at an ever-Arden low price.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arden Shakespeare 3 Nov 2007
By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
In some respects I think it'd be rather presumptuous of me to attempt to review Shakespeare. Someone so well known and influential wouldn't benefit from my opinions on their work, plus there are more scholarly and concise reviews out there. But I can comment on these Arden versions. Of all the Shakespeare I've read I've always found the Arden copies to be well laid out and to have excellent commentary and notes on the text. They really add to your understanding of Shakespeares outstanding plays and introduce you to the depth in his work. They have superb paper quality and are bound well, withstanding repeated readings and intensive study. For your collection of Shakespeare you can't do much better than Arden publications, some are quite hard to get hold of but it's worth the effort.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Titus reappraised 5 Sep 2008
By Jon Chambers TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Titus Andonicus is often regarded as something of a joke: crude juvenilia, bloodthirsty sensationalism, tasteless exploitation. Consequently, it has frequently been excised from the canon. TS Eliot, for one, thought it 'one of the stupidest and most uninspired plays ever written'. Here, in this Arden 3rd edition, Jonathan Bate unapologetically champions the play and argues that it is authentically Shakespearean, structurally complex and, contrary to Eliot, 'one of the dramatist's most inventive plays'.

Bate certainly makes a persuasive case. He combines an easy, conversational eloquence with penchant analysis. What is made clear is that for a fuller appreciation of the play, we need to understand a contemporary audience's response to episodes which may seem puzzling to us. For example, the barbarian Goth who contemplates a monastery isn't so much a clumsy example of anachronism but an instructive image of escape from Roman tyranny - doubly so, firstly by means of the Goths' defeat of a decadent Rome, secondly through the Reformation's liberation of religion from an equally decadent Papacy. Bate reminds us, in this example, of how perceptions of Romans and Goths have changed over the intervening 400 years. The Goths, from an Elizabethan perspective, were not primarily destructive, shaggy-haired barbarians but a positive, reinvigorating people who helped European culture to flourish after centuries of imperial greed and misrule.

This edition is unconventional in its analysis of Elizabethan attitudes to revenge. I'd always thought that this was quite plain and unequivocal (' "Vengeance is mine, I will repay," said the Lord' being the commonly quoted Biblical text telling us that retribution is a divine, not human, prerogative.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Manly tears and excessive violence: the first John Woo film? 18 Dec 2000
By darragh o'donoghue - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
On a superficial first reading, 'Titus Andronicus' is lesser Shakespeare - the language is generally simple and direct, with few convoluted similes and a lot of cliches. The plot, as with many contemporary plays, is so gruesome and bloody as to be comic - the hero, a Roman general, before the play has started has lost a wife and 21 sons; he kills another at their funeral, having dismembered and burnt the heroine's son as a 'sacrifice'; after her husband is murdered, his daughter is doubly raped and has her tongue and hands lopped off; Titus sacrifices his own hand to bail out two wrongfully accused sons - it is returned along with their heads. Et cetera. The play concludes with a grisly finale Peter Greenaway might have been proud of. The plot is basically a rehash of Kyd, Marlowe, Seneca and Ovid, although there are some striking stage effects.
Jonathan Bate in his exhaustive introduction almost convinces you of the play's greatness, as he discusses it theoretically, its sexual metaphors, obsessive misogyny, analysis of signs and reading etc. His introduction is exemplary and systematic - interpretation of content and staging; history of performance; origin and soures; textual history. Sometimes, as is often the case with Arden, the annotation is frustratingly pedantic, as you get caught in a web of previous editors' fetishistic analysing of punctuation and grammar. Mostly, though, it facilitates a smooth, enjoyable read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ARDEN NEARLY IMPECCABLE IN ITS DEFENSIBLE EDITION; YET HALF OF COMMENTS DISPOSABLE 19 Sep 2008
By C. Scanlon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Titus is the play for our day of crumbling and self-destructing empire; this fable has much to teach us now. As the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. warned us: Either we learn to live together as brothers or we die apart as fools.

Here we find fool brother killing brother, citizen killing citizen, the extreme abuse of the most vulnerable and pure, the excessive cruelty of wealth and power, a fable for our age.

Here in the Third revision series from Arden (the first presentation nearly one hundred years old and thus this represents one of the most ancient, traditional and continual series of Shakespearean texts, unlike certain far more recent and much less reliable usurpers of the "traditional" crown) we may discover a nearly impeccable edition of this four hundred year old much maligned and frequently orphaned text, a fable for our present times.

The editor Jonathan Bate presents strong and nearly undeniable reasons for his selection of readings from Quarto, Folio and emended editions, including of course Theobald and Capell but also the most recent scholarship and productions. His use, for example of "Muly lives" rather than "Mulietus" is admirable, as is his conflation of false starts, later additions, and other lines always clearly indicated in other typeface and explained fully in the footnotes and introduction.

Nevertheless, I found some of his interpretation unfortunate. I believe this play not a comedy but an exposure of the absolute corruption to which power and wealth lead us. It is not comedy but an exposure of our depravity. It is not to laugh but to weep, and to repent, and to resolve to live in peace and communal cooperation and compassionate concern, to learn to live together as brothers, although not as these. It is thus a morality play, not a comedy; yet we now have no concept of such a thing, and thus laugh where we must repent, and revolt.

His continual praising and uncritical reference in the footnotes to the televised BBC and to the Warner productions also calls into question his judgment. I cannot imagine, for example, admiring bringing in the cannibal banquet table singing as did the Warner = "Heigh ho it's off to work we go!" as anything other than an inappropriate, anachronistic indulgence.

In short about half of the footnotes might easily and gratefully find blue pencil from a compassionate and wise editor of this edition who can distinguish personal interpretation and opinion from scholarly fact. As well, a basic rule for those who wish to define or explain words is never to make the definition more complex nor obscure than the word being defined, nor make the definition so general as to be useless. Thus we find the terms suffrages and tyrannies in Act Four defined completely as "key terms in the political lexicon" rather than explaining their significance in terms of Act One. This is neither helpful nor necessary.

In short, about half of the footnotes may be eliminated to the benefit of this great book, as they cast doubt upon the reliability of the edition itself, and this edition seems nearly impeccable.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An underrated play 5 Oct 2010
By Kavita Mudan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this particular edition of Titus Andronicus because I was teaching it (undergraduate-level Shakespeare elective), and as I reread it, I was struck by how entertaining it was. This is a fantastic text for the beginning of a Shakespeare class -- it's short, it's outrageous, it's shocking, and, above all else, it's GREAT writing. This is classic revenge tragedy, full of awfulness and bleak realizations about humanity (or the lack thereof in many cases), but also with some incredibly effective black comedy that doesn't get nearly as much attention as it deserves. My students LOVED it.

This particular edition has very good notes on textual issues as well as some early performance history (even if it was published too early to include Julie Taymor's wonderful 1999 film). The excerpts at the end from The Spanish Tragedy, The Jew of Malta, and Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses were also extremely handy for contextual questions.
5.0 out of 5 stars The New British Literature 22 Oct 2013
By Kevin L. Nenstiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Despite William Shakespeare’s unquestioned acclaim in literary, theatrical, and psychological circles, critics have always puzzled over what to do with Titus Andronicus. It lacks the aplomb of Shakespeare’s later tragedies, revels in gore, and ends in such abrupt, excessive violence that many audiences are moved to laughter. Samuel Johnson and TS Eliot hated this play. Contemporary critics like Harold Bloom haven’t treated it much better.

Yet, reading it unencumbered by the baggage accruing to Shakespeare’s name, it actually brims with implications about a young playwright’s course through Elizabethan London’s highly competitive theatre marketplace. The traits critics so eagerly attack—swinging masculine bravado, blatant racism, wholly predictable revenge plot—would have attracted massive London audiences. When Bloom or Eliot calls it an obvious rent-payer, less doctrinaire playgoers reply: “Yes! That’s what makes it great!”

Unlike Shakespeare’s other Roman plays (he wrote four), Titus Andronicus is entirely fictional. When the title character marches victorious into the Roman Senate and launches into his bombastic encomium, he addresses a sort of no-place, populated by the kind of “Romans” often envisioned in high school history textbooks. Rather than a place where people live, it’s a mental landscape where high-minded ideals feud with blood sports, and Christian virtue combats Pagan might.

Into this stew Titus, soul broken by endless battle, brings a captured Goth queen. Sudden stratagems turn this war hostage into a Roman empress. Students of literary history know nothing good comes of mixing power models. Soon the national hero finds himself fleeing the emperor he once defended, and blood flows. Titus becomes partly a tragic hero, like Hamlet or Macbeth, but also the savage, blood-painted revenger rebalancing the scales.

This, probably Shakespeare’s first play, debuted in a London still reeling from Christopher Marlowe’s two-part epic Tamburlaine the Great, which reinvented British theatre. Shedding reliance on moralistic themes and Francophonic singsong rhyme, Marlowe blasted audiences with historical recreations that must have felt as shocking as Cecil B. DeMille’s work. British theatre would never recover from Marlowe’s well-deserved body blow.

Peter Thompson and Northrop Frye suggest Marlowe may have collaborated on Titus Andronicus and others of Shakespeare’s earliest historical plays, though this remains mere speculation. Shakespeare’s earliest works, however, certainly show Marlowe’s influence, and this play certainly reflects Marlowe’s long shadow on British theatre. Young Shakespeare probably had to emulate Marlowe as new playwrights today must emulate Charlie Kaufman or David Mamet.

Yet reading this for its inputs misses the full impact. Many themes that define Shakespeare’s classic tragedies, the themes that helped redefine our understanding of human nature and theatrical potential, appear here in embryonic form. The division of power between the (fictional) emperor Saturnine and his Goth queen Tamora presages King Lear. Aaron the Moor, crafty strategian and captive of a captive, commences ideas that find their mature form in both Othello and Iago.

Imagine if you uncovered Vincent van Gogh’s student paintings, where he developed the early forms of his distinctive gestural technique. Imagine Beethoven’s student notebooks, where he tested the germinal approach that would culminate in throwing off vestigial baroque influence and changing European music. That’s what you have when you read this play. All the ideas and actions that Shakespeare used to transform all following literature appear here, in their most elementary form.

Titus Andronicus wasn’t included in the First Folio, or published under Shakespeare’s name during his lifetime, probably because Shakespeare’s company didn’t own it. As a young apprentice, he apparently sold this play to the Rose, which, after Shakespeare became famous with the Globe, deliberately performed it opposite Globe productions to split his audience. This play wasn’t performed at all between 1596 and 1923, not in Shakespeare’s own words anyway.

Yet since 1955, innovative theatrical productions, and adaptations like Julie Taymor’s Titus have invited scholars and students to re-evaluate this play. Some interpretations have emphasized Shakespeare’s boyishly exuberant violence and self-conscious grandiloquence, pitching it as a black comedy. Others have highlighted the process by which Titus loses everything by stages, presaging modern cinematic tragedies. Like Shakespeare’s best work, Titus Andronicus rewards multiple interpretations.

William Shakespeare came from somewhere. Scant evidence survives from his life, though, and we know remarkably little about the circumstances that created literature’s greatest mind. But we do have Shakespeare’s words. We can see how ideas evolved throughout his career, and how themes begun in one play come to fruition in another. This play essentially contains the seed of everything that came after. After centuries of neglect, it has received part of the recognition it deserves.
5.0 out of 5 stars Questions and Answers 4 Dec 2010
By Timothy S. Chamberlain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
He presents a clear reasoned text. Heavy with footnotes. Raises questions about the text as well. Based on the Q1 text (which is the basis of all subsequent texts). Keeps the reader linked to textual questions rather than leaving the reader in the dark as to choices made.
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