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"Hamlet" (Arden Shakespeare) Paperback – Dec 1996

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Thomson Learning; 2nd Revised edition edition (Dec. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0174434693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0174434696
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 289,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Undoubtedly the most famous of all of Shakespeare's plays, Hamlet remains one of the most enduring but also enigmatic pieces of western literature. The story of Hamlet, the young Prince of Denmark, his tortured relationship with his mother, and his quest to avenge his father's murder at the hand of his brother Claudius has fascinated writers and audiences ever since it was written around 1600.

For many years interest focused on both Hamlet's inability to avenge his father's death, claiming that "the native hue of resolution / Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought", and, according to none other than Freud, his oedipal fixation with his mother. However, more recently critics have turned their attention to Hamlet's bold theatrical self-reflexivity (most famously reflected in the performance of "The Mousetrap"), its fascination with issues of theology and Renaissance humanism, and its dense, complex poetic language. What is so remarkable about the play is the way in which it tends to uncannily reflect the concerns of different epochs. As a result, Hamlet has been at different moments defined as a romantic rebel, an angst-ridden existentialist, a paralysed intellectual and an ambivalent New Man. Whatever subsequent generations make of Hamlet, they are unlikely to exhaust the possibilities of this most extraordinary play. --Jerry Brotton


The text of the classic tragedy about the struggle of Prince Hamlet to avenge his father's murder is accompanied by extensive critical notes and historical commentary.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Oct. 1999
Format: Paperback
Having used this edition of 'Hamlet' in my study of the play at A Level, I would recommend it highly to anyone, whether studying the book or simply reading it for pleasure. The layout of the book makes for easy reading, especially important when studying texts such as this where the thread of some of the playwrite's more elaborate images may easily be lost, and something which is not aways true of all editions of all Shakespearian plays. In addition to this the notes which accompany the text at the bottom of each page are useful and pertinent, giving meanings of words, historical information relevant to the text and explainations of imagery, whilst more comprehensive notes are present at the back of the book. The books introduction provides information which, in addition to giving an interesting background to the book, is also very useful when for instance, writing essays. Ultimately Harold Jenkins' subtle and appropriate editing of one of Shakespeare's most intriguing and interesting plays enhances its study.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 May 2000
Format: Paperback
Harold Jenkins provides a truly comprehensive and interesting commentary on Hamlet, one of Shakespeare's more ambiguous plays. The introduction offers a fine insight into all aspects of the play from character studies to themes and language. The work on the often misinterpreted character of Ophelia and Hamlet's dual role is particularly impressive and refreshing, managing to be eclectic yet critical at the same time. The text is neatly presented with ample stage settings and explanatory notes to aid the uninformed reader. The research on the text and source history is truly unprecedented making Jenkins'work an invaluable one for both serious literature students and keen thespians
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By stereotype on 16 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
very good condition!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Best Shakespeare Edition Available: Arden 7 April 2000
By Drew Dara-Abrams - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Arden editions of Shakespeare are the best available. While they cost a lot more than the standard cheap editions, they have so much more. The Folger editions (probably the most widely available editions of Shakespeare) have footnotes that are quite general and never do they have enough. In addition, they really don't have that much extra information on the play--only a small essay analyzing the modern issues of the play. The Arden editions are truly the scholarly editions of Shakespeare. Ninety percent of the time that I have a question on the text, a footnote provides more information. In addition, a lengthy introduction is included. Everything is documented. While at this point I don't care that much about how the quarto version of Hamlet said "no", when the folio version said "so", it's nice to know that if I have a specific question, the answers in there. My thoughts on Hamlet: Don't fret about understanding the material, just dive in. Shakespeare offers interesting plots to the beginners and vivid prose to pick over to the advanced scholar.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
best version of Hamlet to buy 12 Jun. 2001
By Michael Guttentag - Published on
Format: Paperback
An excellent version of the play, a balanced and comprehensive introduction, and extended notes about subjects of controversy or interest -- if you want to buy a copy of Hamlet this is the edition to get.
Most people have not read many versions of the play; nor have many people read most of the hundreds of books and articles on this play. For whatever strange reason, i have made it through much of the Hamlet criticism. And, i think i can fairly recommend this edition.
As you may or may not know, there are essentially three different versions of the play that have survived, the first (or bad) quarto, the second quarto, and the folio. Jenkins wisely relies primarily on the second quarto, but is not afraid to supplement or modify it with the folio and even the first quarto where it is appropriate.
But differences in the text of the play between this and other editions of the play is not the reason to buy this book. The reason is that there is so much more here than just the play. First, there is the 150+ page introduction, which is as balanced a review of thought on Hamlet as you are going to find. Next, the text of the play has the standard array of footnotes to explain various word meanings or relevancies. Third, at the end of the play there are longer notes that discuss in depth issues that the text raises which are beyond the scope of a normal footnote. These longer notes are great with an in depth discussion of hundreds of issues including whether a nunnery refers to a house of ill-repute and how old Hamlet is.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The best edition of Hamlet on offer (and to quarrel with) 10 April 2001
By Joost Daalder - Published on
Format: Paperback
Both as an academic teacher and as a researcher I have used Jenkins's edition regularly for nearly twenty years, and continue to marvel at the wealth of scholarly material - factual and interpretative - which it offers. I consider that no other edition of *Hamlet* is remotely as useful, though I frequently find myself in disagreement with this great editor.
Jenkins's text is eminently satisfying: sensibly and responsibly based, and scrupulously and intelligently modernised, even if one prefers (as I do) e.g. "solid" to "sullied".
His introduction is informative and well-considered, though I must admit I find his interpretative view of the play, both there and in several of his longer notes, at times less than penetrating. I feel he idealises Hamlet too much, misjudges the failure of Hamlet's play-within-the-play, and is less than openminded when it comes to making sense of e.g. the sexual elements in Ophelia's dreams (which are hard to interpret decisively, but certainly more significant than his cursory view suggests). On the other hand his information on ghosts, for example, is highly valuable and useful.
His shorter notes, explaining many difficult words and contemporary concepts, are always illuminating, frequently "spot on", and usually helpful even if one disagrees, in that he provides most of the information which one needs even if one ultimately arrives at a different judgement from his.
If banished or imprisoned and allowed only one edition of *Hamlet* I'd take this one. Not only because it is the best, but because it would help me in spending many weeks, months, or years on this riddling, frustrating, but endlessly fascinating play. Jenkins's edition is a monument to late twentieth century scholarship, and will undoubtedly continue to be recognised as such. - Joost Daalder, Professor of English, Flinders University, South Australia
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Most Comprehensive Edition of the World's Greatest Play 14 July 2002
By Bay Gibbons - Published on
Format: Paperback
We do not guild the lily by proclaiming this to be the most comprehensive edition of the greatest drama to come from any pen in history. The book is absolutely bristling with textual elucidations, notes and marginalia and a stunningly detailed, if somewhat dry, introduction. Moreover, no other edition I have used (and I have read Hamlet more than fifty times since the summer of my seventeenth year, including this edition over two enriching days during the past week) so clearly lays out the textual divergencies of the various versions of the canon, Q1, Q2 and F, as does Arden.
Than being said, it is the text itself which shines through in this (and any other) edition -- let us not mistake the husk for the grain.
Hamlet (as Harold Bloom argues so persuasively) more than any other play is surely Shakespeare's life work -- a work which he poured more of himself into over a longer period of time than any other. Written in its final version just months after the death of the playwright's only son, Hamnet, and his father, it represents Shakespeare's personal triumph over adversity and darkness.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Simply Indispensable 23 May 2004
By Paul Frandano - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When Henry James sat down to write on his Venetian travels for what later became the Italian Hours, he began with a disclaimer: "It is a great pleasure to write the word; but I am not sure there is not a certain impudence in pretending to add anything to it." Turning to Shakespeare, we might amuse ourselves by writing on, say, Hamlet, but can anything be said that's not already been said, and better, a dozen times, by superior critics and closer readers? In the appropriate spirit of humility (and in utter submission to the Bard and his great gift to civilization), I offer a few thoughts on the Arden 2nd Edition of Hamlet, and not on "the greatest work in the history of literature."
Hamlet is by far the longest of the Ardens at 574 pages. It breaks down thusly: the prefatory material of editor Harold Jenkins - one of the Arden Series general editors and a Hamlet authority of great renown - alone takes up 164 pages. Three-quarters of this is bibliographical and historical. In his 40-page critical introduction, Jenkins addresses many of the plays thorniest problems, with the Talmudic attentiveness of the closest reader. Then comes the play itself, spread over 264 pages (in terms of sheer length relative to the Bard's other plays, the text is a monster, coming in at more than 3800 lines). Each page of the Arden includes an average half-page of Jenkins' detailed, argumentative, authoritative, and uncommonly helpful footnotes. The final 146 pages consist of longer (end)notes that Jenkins simply could not physically fit onto the bottom of a page. Many of these are short essays (including an appendix that glosses an earlier discussion on the dating of the play).
Each of the Arden Hamlet's three sections might merit separate publication (after a modest bit of repackaging), but as a totality, Jenkins' edition must be the greatest value on the Shakespeare market. Jenkins' ruminations on the provenance of the story and the many sources Shakespeare might have drawn on, the "Ur-Hamlet" that might have come from the quill of contemporary Thomas Kyd (The Spanish Tragedy), the complexities of determining an authoritative text, the drama's inconsistencies and unanswered questions, the import of the great soliloquy of III.i (which is emphatically NOT, insists Jenkins, a deliberation on whether to commit suicide), Elizabethan revenge dramas in general, and so much more make this a truly indispensable, illuminating, even breathtaking volume.
We think we know this play well. We have read it, and seen performed on stage and in memorable or hideously forgettable films. Many of its greatest lines are embedded in our hearts. The beginning of true understanding, however, resides in a superbly annotated scholarly edition. The Arden is one of several choices you can make and is for me the one to own, equally suitable for students, scholars, actors, and mere Bardolators. It will - provided, of course, you are not already a scholarly specialist in Elizabethan drama - knock the scales from your eyes. And until the 3rd edition now in preparation under Ann Thompson is published, this Hamlet will stand as the epitome of the Arden Shakespeare's greatness as a series.
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