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The Merchant of Venice: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 17 Apr 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (17 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019953585X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199535859
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 2 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire and was baptised on 26 April 1564. Thought to have been educated at the local grammar school, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he went on to have three children, at the age of eighteen, before moving to London to work in the theatre. Two erotic poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were published in 1593 and 1594 and records of his plays begin to appear in 1594 for Richard III and the three parts of Henry VI. Shakespeare's tragic period lasted from around 1600 to 1608, during which period he wrote plays including Hamlet and Othello. The first editions of the sonnets were published in 1609 but evidence suggests that Shakespeare had been writing them for years for a private readership.

Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life in Stratford, by now a wealthy man. He died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623.

(The portrait details: The Chandos portrait, artist and authenticity unconfirmed. NPG1, © National Portrait Gallery, London)

Product Description

Review

The annotation, generally proficient, is admirably frank in rendering sexual doubles entendres and is frequently illuminating in its references to modes of staging ... As in the other volumes of this Oxford Shakespeare series, there is a good range of pictorial material and a very useful index ... this edition of The Merchant of Venice is creditable, lucid, and practical. (Cedric Watts, University of Sussex, Review of English Studies, Vol. 47, No. 186, May '96)

About the Author

Jay L. Halio is Professor of English, University of Delaware

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By BookJumper on 4 Mar 2009
Format: Paperback
I'd give this the same five stars I would give to the Arden edition, but for very different reasons: while Arden contains within its rather porky volumes all the immediate reference to a Shakespeare play one could possibly decide to desire, Oxford knows how to do introductions that actually do that - introduce.

You need no degree in literature, no knowledge of technical jargon, no previous experience of the play in question: the gentle, hand-in-hand editors of Oxford will reveal all (that is possible to reveal in an introduction half the length of those of Arden), grecefully and comprehensively.

So buy this to start with (especially this particular new print, which is printed on better paper, with better ink and has a nicer cover than the last one); and if you find yourself interested, intrigued, and want to know more - invest in the porkier Arden.

As for the "Merchant" itself - long story short, it tells the tale of a Venetian Jew's quest for justice or revenge, you decide:

Antonio, a wealthy merchant down on his luck, borrows money from him on behalf of his friend Bassanio, who needs it to woo a lady. Shylock the Jew, hating all Christians because they all hate him, draws up a contract stating that, should Antonio be unable to repay him, he would do so by means of a pound of flesh rather than money. When Antonio's precious cargo is lost at sea, Shylock turns to the authorities to claim what is his: Antonio's heart, to be cut out there and then. There follows the most exciting, nail-biting trial scene in the history of drama, so I will not spoil the ending.

A very complex play (critics have yet to agree whether Shylock is a bloodthirsty villain or a persecuted hero), very much still relevant with its central theme of religious intolerance, this deserves to be read. Then when you can, go see it at the theatre: that's the way Shakespeare is meant to be enjoyed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 23 Aug 2014
Format: Paperback
This series is outstanding for its clear and lucid presentation of the individual plays. The text is based on the Taylor-Wells Oxford Shakespeare (William Shakespeare: The Complete Works, with modernised spelling and punctuation, and intelligent and informed textual decisions.

These individual Oxford play editions are excellent for students with their extended introductions, and on-page glosses. The introductions tend to be about 20 or so years old (Halio's is from 1993) so modern-ish though not completely current. Halio is especially good on refusing to iron out the complexities of this play, not least in its presentation of Shylock: part anti-Semitic stereotype, part poignant voice of the perpetual outsider ("If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?").

This is a play with a careful architecture built on issues of bonds and obligations, on credit and debit, on questions of justice vs. mercy, and the relationships between things and flesh: not just the contested 300 ducats and the famous pound of flesh, but also the caskets and the living Portia, and the play with the betrothal rings at the end and what they stand for.

The book itself is a sturdy edition with sewn binding and good weight paper - perfect for studying as well as reading.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i chose this rating as it is well produced easy to read and understand.I bought this play as i had seen it on Lewis and wanted to read further.
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By S Senior on 20 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Easy to read and really helpful notes. Great to have all the characters listed at the front. Makes Shakespeare very accessible and would recommend.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sara Ramos on 3 Dec 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
on time and the book was like new. thanks no bad points at all... would definitly recomend it. thank u
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