6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2014
This is a review of the Kindle edition. I am mostly a fan of the Oxford editors approach to the representation of Shakespeare's plays, favouring readings which reflect performance, and of their decision to present them in chronological order. This is fine as a reading edition, but be aware that there is no critical apparatus - if you want footnotes, choose the Norton (not available on Kindle) which is basically the same text but with much more explanatory and critical material.
The big problem here is that the edition hasn't been adequately reformatted for reading on a Kindle device. Poetry seems to be something Kindle does pretty poorly, to be fair - but this is particularly badly rendered. Someone in the academy needs to team up with someone at Amazon and come up with a solution to this.
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2013
The first thing that struck me about this Oxford edition is that, unlike in many other editions, there are no marginal glosses and endless footnotes cluttering the text. If you prefer to have them, then this edition is not for you. There is, however, a partial glossary in the back; for further assistance, this edition also includes a bibliography, which is quite extensive.
For those smitten (bitten?) by the Bard, or who love the English language, or both, top-notch dictionaries are indispensable. My two favourites are the two-volume Shorter Oxford and Webster's Second. The latter has been out of print for more than 50 years, but it's not too difficult to find one that is in at least reasonably good condition.
Lastly, it should be noted that the four scholars who review the works have made changes when such changes were deemed more in keeping with Shakespeare's original work; this is explained in detail in the General Introduction and in the User's Guide.
Great edition, highly recommended.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2015
Having this excellent Shakespeare in hardback, I wanted to own it in electronic format. Unfortunately, this edition is full of recognition errors. Line numbers appear in the text, the OCR has misread various characters and symbols, etc. The result is a very poor edition that I regret buying.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2011
I'll keep this short. This is a scholarly and beautifully produced edition of the writer who created our mind-map. If, like me, you're constantly re-reading or teaching these plays, it's not especially convenient to sit down and enjoy - too heavy and the wrong size. I love to sit up and read Shakespeare and/or Dickens in bed, especially during the winter months; from that point of view I find the Everyman edition in several volumes unbeatable, primarily because it has larger, clearer print and one column of text per page for my tired old eyes.
If all of that doesn't bother you however, and you want the plays in one volume, this handsome tome may suit you well!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2010
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!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2014
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.
on 21 February 2011
With this product, it really depends what you're looking for. I purchased this because as a student of English I've always wanted a Complete Works of Shakespeare and this was reasonably priced, especially for a hardcover edition with glossy pages! It's also cheaper on Amazon; I have friends who purchased the paperback version from a bookstore for about 16 quid.
- If you're taking a Shakespeare class where you're studying a few plays, buying them individually can add up so this is a good investment.
- If reading a version where you constantly have to look down or flip back to look at annotations bothers you (like it does me) this allows for a much smoother read.
- Not surprisingly, it's huge and heavy. Not a good idea if you want to go straight from class to the pubs to the clubs.
- If you prefer detailed notes and additional reading material for each play, go with individual copies of each play. There were things that I missed which my professor pointed out in class, which I'm sure any decent annotated edition would have made explicit to me.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2013
As a student of English I reckoned this would be much more convenient than lugging around the physical copy. However, there are only divisions at the beginning of each play, meaning you have to enter a page number or worse yet, search for the word "coxcomb", which brings up about two dozen entries you're forced to scroll through. This makes it very difficult to keep up in class, and near impossible on older non-touch screen Kindle models, making me wish I'd just bought the hard copy.
It's also very poorly formatted, with inconsistencies in how scenes are named and lines running over into each other. Overall, very disappointing product, especially considering the amount of free copies that format and divide scenes properly. Not to mention that this "scholarly edition" amounts to a two page foreword at the start of each play. I would advise those in my position to pick up this Kindle version; THE COMPLETE PLAYS OF SHAKESPEARE (Illustrated and Commented Edition) All of William Shakespeare's Unabridged Plays AND Yale Critical Analysis) THE COMPLETE ... (The Complete Works of Shakespeare), which is properly formatted, and £8 less.