on 15 September 2001
This book, although expensive is just simply wonderful. The book contains all of shakespeares plays, poems and sonnets which puts a different meaning to the statement "complete works". Also, not only does the book give excellent essays on each play it also gives you exceptionally good footnotes on the modern meaning of difficult text within the play, with a usefull line index as to where these meanings come up. These notes are so helpfull I have not seen their equivalent or anything near it in any other edition of Shakespeares complete works. For those of you who have had problems in understanding Shakespeare, this book is your savior. Certainly a best buy in my opinion. Well done Bevington.
on 3 February 2005
I was looking for a book which contained the plays of Shakespeare as I needed to select which would be most appropriate to use as a drama workshop. I chose this book because it was very cheap.
The book is very chunky and it features ALL his plays and major poems/sonnets. Each page has two columns of text in very small print, so if you don't have good eye sight, I wouldn't recommend this book. It's also quite smudgy and the text is quite cramped. I don't feel this book is suitable to work from, to annotate etc.. However, it is as useful as a dictionary when it comes to looking up quotes and is brilliant to have around in order to recommend speeches to students. It also has a very useful Glossary at the back for those words which are uncommon/not used nowadays and includes information from the original folio.
To summarise... a book very worth the money, useful as a point of reference but not a book to be worked from.
on 11 August 2004
William Shakespeare is renowned for being England's greatest writer, and arguably the greatest writer the World has ever known. Most people will have come across Shakespeare in one form or another, whether it be reading him at school, hearing his works quoted, or seeing a film that is based on one of his plays. The borrowings from Shakespeare are wide and varied, and many day to day sayings such as "Cruel to be kind", "Too much of a good thing" and "Wild-goose chase" all have their origins in Shakespeare.
This book is a collection of all 37 plays, all 152 sonnets and some of his longer poems. They don't have to be read in order, and there is no reason to read all of them in one sitting - it's just great to be able to pick up a single volume to be able to read 'King Lear', or 'Hamlet', or 'Henry V' whenever the mood takes you. There is something for every mood here, from lightweight comedy to dark, harrowing tragedy.
My only criticism is that with a book this large it is often hard to keep a softcover edition in good condition. It needs a little more looking after, so if you want to keep this fantastic collection of literary works in good condition, do yourself a favour and get a hardcover edition, but for those on a budget, this is an ideal way to get your hands on some of the greatest literature ever written!
on 9 March 2012
This shouldn't be called the "complete" Shakespeare, but "complete plus". Typically for Delphi, they've added a wealth of extra material that adds richness to the text. I'm working through Macbeth, for example, and the Chronicles by Holinshead that Shakespeare uses as a source reveals just what a transformation he wrought. And how revealing is the political background to the play outlined by Samuel Johnson in his notes - James I's accession to the throne and the Gunpowder Plot. And then there's the additional Shakespeare, in the form of the apocryphal plays and poems. I didn't even know this stuff existed! This collection will help me explore the immortal Bard for decades to come.
I suppose that, if you dug hard enough, you'd be able to save yourself a couple of quid and get all of this stuff, including the extras and the apocryphal works, for free. I started down that road, but what you get is a lot of different formats of varying quality, many without active ToCs - which makes navigation a decided chore, if not practically impossible. And what about searching? If I wanted to find a particular word in one play, for example - no problemo. But what if I wanted to find if the Bard had ever used it? Only a complete collection will perform that trick in no time, and Delphi's ToC is as detailed and therefore as useful as I've come to expect from them.
I said that maybe you could find all of the material in this collection for free, but actually I seriously doubt it. For £1.87, quite frankly it's not worth looking, even without the objection in the previous paragraph. And what additional material! One literary genius - be it Johnson, Tolstoy, Coleridge or Victor Hugo - speaking about another is worth it on its own. There are then three layers: the 16th century Shakespeare, mediated by the 18th, 19th or 20th century Hazlitt or Shaw, speaking to us in the 21st. That's a fascinating study by itself.
A previous reviewer has castigated the edition for its errors, which make it "useless". I didn't put the word "errors" in speech marks, because undeniably there are some. I'm not enough of a Shakespeare buff to pick wrong words (and with the variety of sources available, especially for "King Lear", this task must be a fraught one indeed), but the formatting could do with improvement. A minor glitch concerns stage directions, which occasionally aren't differentiated from the text. In Macbeth Act I scene 3, for example, according to Delphi's text the Third Witch says "Here I have a pilot's thumb / Wreck'd as homeward he did come / Drum within". Obviously the last two words haven't been italicised as they should have been. There are several examples scattered throughout the text, and I'm guessing that would apply throughout the collection.
A more serious criticism concerns my inability to point you, gentle reader, to the exact line number for the reference above. There are no line numbers in the text, which makes it awkward when you come across (for example) a reference to Thomas Middleton's authorship of Act IV Scene 1 lines 39-43 and 125-132 (the first being Hecate's lines). Mere counting doesn't seem to get me anywhere sensible with the second lot of lines. It would be good to have line numbers, as all printed editions seem to do.
However, I think the reviewer's negative comments are completely off the mark. If he was a Shakespeare scholar looking to weigh the significance of every word, fair enough - every error would be serious. But I'm not, and I'm guessing that most of you aren't either - we're general readers, for whom 98% accuracy is enough. But then, if he was a Shakespeare scholar he wouldn't be using an edition like this, but rather a critical one with all the critical apparatus of extensive and scholarly footnotes. Delphi's edition is more than fit for purpose, which is why I'm giving it five stars despite my (minor) criticisms above.
There's another reason for the five stars despite the errors. Delphi updates their editions for free - frequently, as you can see from their website. I've just done that with this Shakespeare, and I didn't even purchase it from Delphi direct, but from Amazon. I thought I'd put Delphi to the test, so I emailed Amazon's support department and asked for the free update. Within 24 hours it was on my Kindle. This free updating is Delphi's advantage over any other complete collection I've come across, and it's the reason why I've learned since I got my Kindle for Christmas to stick with them unless there's a reason a darn sight more compelling than any of the negative ones I've written about here. And no, I have no connection with Delphi - I've just been walking around in a perpetual daze over the last couple of months at how much is available for free on Kindle, and how much you can get for next to nothing - with Delphi, it seems, being the pick of the crop.
on 17 December 2011
I initially reviewed this book and commented on some poor formatting - Delphi Classics contacted me within a few days and have put in extraordinary effort to correct this and I am delighted with the product now. Presentation is something they do very well: I like the illustrations such as the film posters, portaits, frontispieces from the Folio etc. They may not be necessary but it shows some care for presentation which most ebooks sadly lack. The extras are also welcome - I'm particularly glad to see Coleridge on Shakespeare and Hazlitt's "Characters of Shakespeare's plays" - I have dirty, second-hand copies of both and it's nice to have them on the Kindle, both masterpieces of prose in and of themselves. Add to this Samuel Johnson's prefaces and notes and Swinburne's study of Shakespeare and you have a classic library of criticism at your fingertips. It is not sufficient for a modern student, but, as I said, they are classics of prose anyone with an interest in Shakespeare, or English literature, should read. I have no hesitation in recommdending this as the finest complete Shakespeare available for the Kindle (and I've tried a good few!)
on 4 January 2011
I am very happy with this collection. It has all the elements I was hoping to get and a little more as well. I was looking for a complete Shakespeare, with all his plays and poems in it. Also, I was looking for something easy to read and navigate through.
So I was very happy to find this collection. I am most excited about these extra plays that I get in addition to the regular ones I wanted. As soon as I saw that I knew I had to have this collection. Also, I found it nice to read and I discovered I can read it both holding my Kindle vertical or horizontal. Its also simple to navigate.
So nothing more I could ask for :)