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The Tragedy of King Richard III: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 17 Apr 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (17 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780199535880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199535880
  • ASIN: 0199535884
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2.3 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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

This is far and away the finest critical edition of the play available (Eric Rasmussen, Shakespeare Survey)

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First Sentence
Richard III is conspicuously a performance piece, and in many ways it is about the nature of performance. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P. Webster on 20 Oct 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review will focus mainly on the play itself, but firstly I will make a brief comment about this particular edition. These Oxford editions of the Shakespeare plays for me have one bad point and one good point. On the negative side, I consider the introductions to be over-academic for the general reader. On the positive side, the explanatory notes are generally good and are placed at the foot of each page for easy reference. The five stars I have given are for Shakespeare: I would give Oxford four.

Richard III is a long play, and perhaps a little drawn out in places. Nevertheless it is one of my favourite Shakespeares. There are some brilliant scenes, such as the opening monologue; the scene where Richard woos Anne; the Council Meeting where Richard turns on Hastings; and the scene where Clarence describes his dream and is then murdered.

The scene with Clarence's dream also contains one of my favourite pieces of Shakespeare's poetry, the passage which starts: "O Lord, methought what pain it was to drown..."

There has been a lot of analysis of the character of Richard. He clearly represents a typical feudal gangster-lord. Some also see him as personifying the ruthlessly individualistic rising bourgeoisie of Shakespeare's time. Others have pointed to the similarities between Richard and the character of "Vice" in the medieval morality plays.

The play is also often said to bring out the conflict between fate and determinism on the one hand, and free will and choice on the other. For example, when Richard says, "I am determinèd to prove a villain", he seems to be asserting his individual will. But "determined" can also mean "fated".

But leaving the analysis aside, this is an enjoyable play.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By janebbooks on 9 Dec 2012
Format: Paperback
Recent events have revived unanswered questions regarding England's King Richard III (1452-1485) who ascended to the throne in 1483 and ruled until his death at the Battle of Bosworth, the decisive battle of the War of the Roses, in 1485.

Now is the time to re-read William Shakespeare's 1591 play about a monarch who purportedly locked his young nephews in the Tower of London. In September of 2012 archeologists unearthed bones thought to be those of the king in a parking lot in Leicester. Did Shakespeare offer a fair accounting of historical record or was the Bard a "spin doctor" for the House of Tudor that assumed power in 1485?

A few contemporary novels and films have kept these historical mysteries alive.

In 1951 Josephine Tey wrote a detective novel The Daughter Of Time in which a bedridden Scotland Yard inspector, Alan Grant, ponders the king's problems. Did Richard kill his nephews? Or was it all just political propaganda?

In 1974 archeologist Elizabeth Peters wrote The Murders of Richard III. Her American librarian Jacqueline Kirby is invited to an English country mansion for a weekend of literary conversation. The topic quickly turns into a role-playing event of 15th century beheadings, poisonings, and questions about the last king of the Plantagenet dynasty.

In 1995 Sir Ian McKellan along with a stellar cast portrayed
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4 of 13 people found the following review helpful By F. Jacobsen on 17 May 2011
Format: Paperback
This book arrived promptly and in perfect condition. It was offered at a reduced price and, in addition, there was no charge for the postage making it a very economical purchase.
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Amazon.com: 1 review
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"I am determinèd to prove a villain" 20 Oct 2013
By P. Webster - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This review will focus mainly on the play itself, but firstly I will make a brief comment about this particular edition. These Oxford editions of the Shakespeare plays for me have one bad point and one good point. On the negative side, I consider the introductions to be over-academic for the general reader. On the positive side, the explanatory notes are generally good and are placed at the foot of each page for easy reference. The five stars I have given are for Shakespeare: I would give Oxford four.

Richard III is a long play, and perhaps a little drawn out in places. Nevertheless it is one of my favourite Shakespeares. There are some brilliant scenes, such as the opening monologue; the scene where Richard woos Anne; the Council Meeting where Richard turns on Hastings; and the scene where Clarence describes his dream and is then murdered.

The scene with Clarence's dream also contains one of my favourite pieces of Shakespeare's poetry, the passage which starts: "O Lord, methought what pain it was to drown..."

There has been a lot of analysis of the character of Richard. He clearly represents a typical feudal gangster-lord. Some also see him as personifying the ruthlessly individualistic rising bourgeoisie of Shakespeare's time. Others have pointed to the similarities between Richard and the character of "Vice" in the medieval morality plays.

The play is also often said to bring out the conflict between fate and determinism on the one hand, and free will and choice on the other. For example, when Richard says, "I am determinèd to prove a villain", he seems to be asserting his individual will. But "determined" can also mean "fated".

But leaving the analysis aside, this is an enjoyable play. It is a history/tragedy, but it is done with humour. Richard is amusing as well as evil. We are almost made to admire him. (The late medieval "Vice" character was also apparently often portrayed with humour.) I agree with what one Shakespeare expert (J.D. Wilson) once wrote: "Only by realising that Shakespeare expects us to at once enjoy and detest the monstrous Richard can we fully appreciate the play..."

Incidentally, this is why I can't go along with the idea of portraying Richard as a 1930s-style fascist (as has been done in recent years). Someone murdering their way to the top can be done with humour. Nazi genocide can NOT.

Richard is ruthless and amusing while he is on the rise. Once in power he is overcome by fear, mistrust and guilt. But he bounces back to a brave end.

I'll conclude with a point about the history that the play is based on. The complaints by fans of the real Richard III, that Shakespeare paints an unfair picture of Richard, don't hold water as far as I'm concerned. Firstly, we're talking about a play here, not history. Secondly, even if there is an element of Tudor propaganda in the play, the real Richard probably did kill the princes in the Tower. And thirdly, in any case, there was no such thing as a "good" medieval monarch!

Phil Webster.
(England)
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