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William Shakespeare: The Complete Works (Oxford Shakespeare) Paperback – 21 Apr 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 1424 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 2 edition (21 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199267189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199267187
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 4.8 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Review

remains the most distinctive, and in many ways the best, one-volume Shakespeare currently available and will not be easily replaced. (Forum for Modern Languages)

About the Author

Stanley Wells is Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and General Editor of the Oxford Shakespeare series. He is Emeritus Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Birmingham.

Gary Taylor (PhD Cambridge) is Professor in the English Department at the University of Alabama. He has published widely on Shakespeare, editing and the relationship of race and ethnicity to the history of literatures in English.

John Jowett is Associate General Editor of the Oxford Collected Works of Thomas Middleton, Co-Editor of the Oxford Complete Works of William Shakespeare and co-author of Shakespeare Reshaped 1606-23 (Clarendon Press). He has recently completed an edition of Richard III. His research interests include bibliography, editing and textual criticism, Renaissance theatre culture and print culture and Shakespeare's contemporary dramatists, especially Middleton.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 16 Jan 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I teach Shakespeare at university level and this is the text that I use. It's certainly not perfect (what is?) and I recommend that students might also want to look at an Arden edition, especially for help with the language. Taylor and Wells have tried to provide us with the most accurate texts of Shakespeare's plays while admitting the caveat that this is a shifting position. The introduction is good on the literary and theatrical background, the volume is robust and well-produced, and the bibliography of further reading is useful.

On the negative side, this uses a fairly small font so some readers might find that a problem. It also, as other reviewers say, doesn't include explanatory notes on the plays themselves or the language, though there is a glossary at the back. The size and weight of the book makes it hefty to carry around and read.

On the positive side, however, I like the fact that this is an edition produced by textual scholars and is as reliable as it's possible to be. I also like that it returns us to the titles under which the plays were known and/or written in their own time, rather than the modern versions, and don't think this is just the editors being gimmicky.

So if you're a Shakespeare 'beginner' and unfamiliar or uncomfortable with sixteenth century language then this might not be the best edition, and I would recommend the Ardens. But if you are a general reader, a student familiar with Shakespeare or someone wanting to experience the plays as they were without needing story summaries and interpretations, then I would recommended this, especially at this price.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By P on 19 Aug 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I don't own any of the alternative 'complete works' publications (I have also heard, for example, good things said about the RSC complete works edition) for me at least, this Oxford edition is simply an essential part of any fans library. Indeed, it's a great version for anybody who may be studying Shakespeare, but is not full of 'study notes' at the bottom of every page (which I don't like). Instead what we have here is the truly complete (as far as we know at least) canon of the Bard's works. They are presented in a form that is as close to what Shakespeare intended them to be, as is possible to get (at least to our understanding).

Before each play, there is a brief (one page) background introducing the context of the play, and what we know of its performance history, how it was received by critics and audiences, as well as the editors own justifications for having presented the play in such a way that either incorporates, or omits, elements from previous publications (mainly from the good or bad quartos and folios). It's also a real treat to have, for the first time, two different versions of King Lear reproduced in here (purely because we don't know which version in the 'definitive' one).

I own the first edition of this (published back in 1986 or '87 I think) but I have to say I believe this second edition really does surpass it. Not only do you now get more, but you also have, by way of introduction to the volume, a very detailed account of why new things have been included, as well as any reassessments which have been made of the works since 1987.

In conclusion then, a real gem, and a must have for anybody who was ever into Shakespeare, or indeed literature and the English language in general. I can't recommend it highly enough!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Oracle VINE VOICE on 8 Mar 2010
Format: Paperback
The Oxford Shakespeare is the best single-volume complete works that I've come across. It's particularly good for those who want to look at the plays and poems as they were written, rather than how they developed, as a great deal of effort has gone into trying to construct the most accurate versions of the texts. This is a good attempt to reconstruct the plays as a Renaissance audience would have know them (albeit with modern spellings) and as such is a must for students of 16th and 17th century drama. A particular bonus is the inclusion of the passages believed to be written by Shakespeare from Sir Thomas More and summaries of the lost works Cardenio and Love's Labour's Won.

If you're studying or performing one of plays then do get an individual edition with detailed notes, but as a reference tool this is tough to beat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By O. G. M. Morgan on 19 Feb 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I adore Shakespeare and the idea of having his complete works in my pocket is wonderful, but this version is badly designed. Firstly, the searching is very poor. If you search for a word, the Kindle searches for a string. That means it is looking for a set of letters anywhere within the text, not just the exact word, or even the beginning of the word. Since this is the Complete Works, it will search the Complete Works. There is no way to limit a search to any individual play. I've seen this flaw in other Kindle books, so it may be integral to the design, but that doesn't alter the fact that it is annoying.

The other irritation with this is its ability to lose its place. Occasionally, I like to go back and re-read a passage. In this Kindle edition, attempting to page back can put you anywhere.

Also, the "Go To..." function here will get you only to the start of a play, or to a remembered location. There is no way to get automatically to individual Acts.

Altogether, I'd say that this really hasn't been thought out properly. These defects ought to have been blindingly obvious. Unfortunately, Kindle-readers who want Shakespeare should probably stick to buying the plays individually, even though that is obviously more expensive.
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