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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 23 April 2012
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This review is from: A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Brilliant! I wanted an edition with 'fairly' detailed notes and this edition provided it. Notes are written on the same page as the text for ease of reference. Good intro too. Recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucid Dream, 29 Jan 2011
By 
Jon Chambers (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Most editors are well disposed towards the plays they are asked to edit and Peter Holland is no exception - he tells us that there was no other title he'd have chosen in preference. Not everyone would agree with him about the play's merits, however. His undergraduate friend considered it 'a pappy play', and there have been plenty of other disparaging comments across the centuries. (Famously, Pepys described Dream as 'the most insipid ridiculous play', while for Malone it was unbelievably thin and trite.) After reading this exemplary edition, which reveals much of its full complexity, Dream should not be mistaken for such simple and unsubstantial fare again.

Holland begins with a succinct account of modern dream theories, before tackling Classical, medieval and Renaissance views. Particularly interesting is his discussion of treatments of dream in the literature of Shakespeare's contemporaries, where Robert Greene's dismissive stance approximates to that of the rational (but limited) Theseus, while Thomas Lodge's more credulous acceptance of dreams and their mystery aligns him more closely with Hippolyta.

The Introduction is astute as well as comprehensive. It observes that doubling the roles of Theseus/Oberon and Hippolyta/Titania has become routine since the 60s, but is critical of those who see this revival of doubling primarily as a solution to financial or pragmatic problems, insisting that it originally had an 'interpretative' function. Holland sees the Elizabethan practice of doubling as a structural device, where 'the audience's recognition of an actor was used to underline the interconnectedness of a series of roles he performed in a play.'

Although I'm no historian of critical thought, it seems to me at least that Holland anticipates some of the more influential work of recent scholars. Louis Montrose's study of the Elizabethan theatre's subversion of patriarchal values is hinted at in this edition's Commentary. (See the note on Bottom's apparently innocent use/misuse of the word 'deflowered', p247n, for example.) Equally praiseworthy are the references made to those filmed versions of Dream, like Reinhardt's (1935), that might be considered too dated for extensive, post-Peter Brook discussion.

Arden's forthcoming Dream will have a difficult job surpassing its Oxford competitor, first published in 1994. It's just a shame that in the intervening 17 years OUP haven't managed to reference page numbers mentioned in at least three sections of the book: Introduction, Editorial Procedures and Commentary. 'See p000' might suffice at proof stage, but it really isn't good enough so many years on. Peter Holland's informed and constantly illuminating edition deserves better.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Bard of England, 13 Mar 2014
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This review is from: A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Do I have to say it? Shakespeare knew how to write!

I grew up quite near to where his mother's house and his own house are located (my Nanna lives in the same village his Mum used to live in) and have grown up learning about the Bard of England.

I have read some of his novels for my Shakespearean Literature course at uni and though I enjoyed a few, and disliked others, I absolutely loved A Midsummer Night's Dream. I liked it so much that I chose to do an oral presentation on his use of mythology in the novel.

I highly recommend it!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Lord, what fools these mortals be!", 23 Oct 2013
By 
P. Webster "Phil W." (Lancashire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
These Oxford editions of Shakespeare's plays in my opinion have one good point and one bad point. On the positive side, the explanatory notes are very good, and they are placed at the foot of each page for easy reference. On the negative side, I find the introductions to be over-academic for the general reader. For example, I'm not convinced that we need to know what Freud, Jung and Wittgenstein said about dreams in order to enjoy, appreciate and understand this play. The five stars I am giving are for Shakespeare: I would give Oxford four.

As for this wonderful play itself, I obviously cannot come up with anything new to say that has not already been said. But I can summarise what I think are the main points that have been made by various commentators.

Shakespeare cleverly weaves together three separate sets of characters whose paths cross: the aristocrats, the workers and the fairies. He also shows us two distinct but overlapping worlds: the normal world of the city and the magical world represented by the fairies, the wood, the moon, dreams, confusion, and reality turned upside-down. (Apparently in Shakespeare's time "wood" could also mean "mad".)

A central theme of the play is summed up in the famous line: "The course of true love never did run smooth." There is the conflict between marriage for love and marriage according to the wishes of parents. But there is also the fickleness of lovers themselves.

Another theme involves the conflict and confusion, including the disruption of nature, which arises from the quarrels of both the fairy king and queen and of the humans. These conflicts and confusions are resolved in the end, with harmony being achieved:

"Jack shall have Jill,
Naught shall go ill,
The man shall have his mare again,
And all shall be well."

For me, the only problem with the play is that the "mechanicals" (workers), although funny, are treated as simple folk in a rather patronising and condescending way. Similarly, in "Julius Caesar", Shakespeare portrays the Roman masses as a fickle mob, easily swayed by demagogues.

But overall this is a marvellous play which takes us into a magical world, and which contains some memorable lines and some beautiful poetry.

Phil Webster.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good, 3 Oct 2013
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This review is from: A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
This book was purchased for my university course, for which I required a version that had the appropriate notes in the front. This book provided that, and although a secondhand copy, had no signs of wear that I could see, and thus exceeded my expectations. A worthy buy.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a midsummer nights dream, 8 July 2013
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This review is from: A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Bought for my grand daughter as she had just appeared in a Youth Theatre Production, her first appearance and i wanted her to understand the play. The book is clear and simple to follow and she loved it!
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality of service and product, 17 May 2011
By 
F. Jacobsen (U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics) (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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A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics)
A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford World's Classics) by William Shakespeare (Paperback - 17 April 2008)
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