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on 31 July 2006
Some critics have dismissed Titus Andronicus as immature; if this view has put you off picking the play up and reading it, I'd say: don't listen to the critics! I personally think Titus is an amazing play, absolutely macabre, most of the time you don't know whether you should laugh or cry. If you like dark, black humour this will surely appeal to you. Consider the reaction of Titus when he sees his daughter Lavinia with her hands chopped off - rather than flying into rage or tears or hysteria, he delivers an elaborate recital of rhetorical poetry brimming with metaphors of blood and grief. Yes, it is violent, and yes, the word blood appears very frequently, as do mutilations and cannibalism, but the contrast between what happens and the beauty of the poetry that emerges out of that savageness is really striking. And those accusing Shakespeare of heartlessness should remember that he did not create the plot, but based his play on a story well-known to all Elizabethans, as he did with all his plays.

Very good edition, with useful and helpful notes, and an informative introduction to the play.
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on 22 May 2007
Everything and even more has been written on this play, even that it was not authored by Shakespeare himself, as if it had any kind of weight in analyzing and appreciating the play. It has a perfect shakespearian pattern. Titus Andronicus, a victorious Roman general, comes back home and yields the emperor's throne that is proposed to him to the legitimate heir Saturninus. He also presents the newly chosen Emperor with his prisoners the Queen of the Goths, Tamora, and her two surviving sons, after he has dispatched the third son to the sacrificing altar on which his own four sons cut him up in pieces, limb from limb, and ungut him before burning these offerings for the satisfaction of their twenty one dead brothers. Along with these three war prisoners, understood as slaves that can be dismembered any time for just any kind of rite, comes Aaron, a black Moor with a Jewish name. His skin color will systematically be transferred to his soul and he will be depicted as thoroughly evil, irreligious and misbelieving. The Emperor accepts the present but instead of keeping them as slaves, pleasure slaves, even for the pleasure of a sacrifice or dismemberment, which would have been normal, he marries Tamora and promotes the two sons to princedom and Aaron to counselor to the Queen-Empress. This disturbs the natural order of Rome and it sends the story reeling on the most devilish trail. But we must keep in mind that this barbarity is normal if performed within the canons of Roman society. They only become evil when they go against these canons. The play will run its bloody course till the final rehabilitation or restoration of just Roman order in the person of the last surviving son of Titus Andronicus. The whole play is thus a long depiction of violence justified and sanctified by power, treachery in the name of pleasure for the treacherous one and pain for the victims. The objective is to inflict pain and inspire horror, fear, awe. But the play is filled with references to Greek or Roman myths, Philomel's and Lucrece's first of all, and many others. In the Elizabethan context it's even quite in phase when we think of the standard death penalty spectacle of the time, drawn-hanged-quartered-eviscerated-all-parts-and-guts-burnt- beheaded-and-the-head-set-on-a-pole-for-public-exhibition. Can we say as has been recently written by JDWActor on Everything2.com (October 19, 2006) that it is a comedy of violence? I think it's more than that. It is the attempt to invent an all-sensory show that does not require any intellectual effort nor imaginary work. We are bombarded with the real thing all along. Shakespeare has invented here what he will rarely do again, viz. an action play in line with modern hollywoodian action films or TV news programs. The objective is to shock the audience into enjoying the grossness of the depiction and situation. We can just wonder how they did it without modern special effects: hands are cutoff, heads are decapitated, throats are slashed, even two men are decapitated and bled on the stage. But it is all, even if extreme, Shakespeare. Think of the five dead on the stage in Romeo and Juliet for one example, two killed with a sword, one with a dagger and two poisoned. What's more the poetic style is intense and rich and dominated by birds and tigers brought together in the last few lines: "But throw her forth to beasts and birds of prey/ ...let birds on her take pity." Even if at times slightly sickening: "Lend me a hand and I will give you mine" says Titus Andronicus meaning every single word of it.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine & University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 September 2014
Gleefully and exuberantly bloody, this is a play awash in severed limbs, gore and body parts. Taking its cue from the huge popularity of revenge drama which left the stage strewn with dead bodies, as well as from Ovid and Seneca both famous for their own macabre stories of bodily disintegration and fragmentation, this is Shakespeare's attempt to challenge what revenge plays might do. Most crucially, deaths and representations of tortured bodies take place not offstage via messenger speeches but in front of our eyes.

Dismissed from the mid-seventeenth century onwards, this play has become popular all over again for its visceral engagements with violence, with torture, and with ideas of what it means to be 'barbaric' or 'civilised' - themes that have a pressing relevancy again for our post-genocide world.

The introduction contextualises the play well, and the commentary and notes elucidate what the language is doing. This is an excellent edition for students or general readers wanting a deeper insight into this excessively violent and gory play.
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on 17 April 2012
I'mnot exactly a Shakespeare buff, but after reading Titus I got way more into him. The play tells the story of a Roman general who retruns to his beloved city a war hero, having in his captivity the queen of the Goths, Tamora. What follows is a series of various conflicts, mainly based around avenging wrongs done to familmembers,which in turn provoke more extreme responses. Certainly one of Shakespeare's most violent and blooody plays, Titus involves rape, severe mutilation like something out of a Saw movie, and a particularly murderous final act. The language is in Shakespeare's usual eloqent style, but I didn't finish it with certain parts of dialogue sticking in my mind, like some of his other iconic plays have. Titus is much more about the visuals, with unparallel onstage violence. Yet the audience can still relate to characters who perform the horrific acts upon one another, making it one of Shakespeare's best psychological plays, as each character has a complex mentality and the audience may find themselves easily to empathise even with the villainous characters. It also contains one of the most purely evil antagonists in literature, whose only regret at the end was that he could have done much worse. As Shakespeare's plays are either comedies or tragedies, and this one sure as hell ain't a comedy, you know exactly where it's heading, but the road it takes you down to get there is a darkly compelling one. I read the Oxford version of this, which has excellent notes at the bottom of each page on how to read and perform the play, so I would recommend anyone interested to get the Oxford version. To sum up, it is a masterful play of visual intrigue which pushes the very boundaries of theatre, and sticks two fingers up to the stereotype of everyone dying offstage and being carried back on. If you like Shakespeare, or even just reading, try Titus.
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on 15 May 2016
This is a nice, small sized book with a matte finish cover that feels high quality. It will come in very handy for carrying to classes and revision sessions.

I bought this for my open book exam, so I wish I had read a bit more into the details of this book as it has a large introduction section that might render it useless if I am now allowed to take it in! But other than that, the pages feel high quality and it's a good book for annotating in as the pen doesn't go through to the other side, which can be distracting.
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on 22 April 2015
The play itself, being Shakespeare's first, is probably one of my favorites along with Hamlet and The Tempest. The dialogue feels very masculine and meaty, but its also one of the more accessible of his plays and easiest to get into if you're new to the man's work. The content of the play isn't always the most pleasant (at times even silly and convoluted), but that's part of the intentions of this 'revenge tragedy'. It's more a critique of a spiral of cruelty rather than cruelty for it's own sake, as some of it's more vocal critics would have you believe. For such a dark horse it is something of an early masterpiece in its own right. Though to be fair, it also served as a precursor to the man's later and greater works so don't take this like I'm saying it's flawless. Nothing is after all!

This Oxford edition is pretty substantial with a lot of background information given in the preface and appendixes, though I did feel that the footnotes were almost too minimal. While it does describe the more literal or modern meanings of phrases used by Shakespeare, I feel that it could have expanded upon the context of the scenes and even stage directions more elaborately. Still, it does the job fine.
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on 4 December 2014
Not one of my favourites by Shakespeare. Personally, I don't rate it too highly because I felt that the violence was gratuitous and the play could be executed in a much better way without the extreme violence and gore. Don't get me wrong, I am well are of the conventions of a tragedy and have read and studied most of Shakespeare's plays. I also enjoy horror and action movies so it is not as though I just have an issue with violence in art. I just feel like it could have been done a bit more tastefully. I know I'm criticising one of the world's finest writers (although some studies suggest that this was not all Mr Shakespeare's work) but this book contains rape, murder after murder after murder, mutilation, cannibalism and the cutting of an innocent girl's tongue and hands. However, I have friends who love this play for the reason that it is so explicitly gruesome. I suppose you will either love it or hate it.
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on 17 October 2014
Interesting book.
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on 20 September 2014
ahh. what a play!
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on 17 May 2011
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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