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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb edition, 4 Jun 2010
By 
James F. Graham "jack4381" (South West UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: King Richard II (Arden Shakespeare.Third Series) (Paperback)
It's difficult to imagine a better, more complete edition of this crucial play. Superbly edited, with extensive notation (sometimes almost too extensive!) and a long, highly detailed introduction which includes a fascinating performance history.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars stunning, 25 Nov 2013
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This review is from: King Richard II (Kindle Edition)
“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me;” (5v)
I can't believe how long it has taken me to discover this jewel of a play. I bow to Greg Doran's production, David Tennant's Richard II, complete with red hair extensions, and the RSC's 2013 cast. A stunning production which led me to read and reread this several times despite having avoided the history plays for many years. Tennant brought out the beauty of Shakespeare's language and walked the tightrope between an arrogant, self aggrandising king convinced of his divine right to rule, and a vulnerable man facing his own mortality. As Bolinbroke's star comes into the ascendant so, surprisingly, sympathy for him wanes and Richard's moral superiority rises. Shakespeare has created a fascinating hero. He may be irritating as hell and sometimes bordering on the ridiculous, yet it is Richard's speeches I am constantly drawn to. One of the masterful strokes in this play is that the politics always seem murky, roles are frequently reversed, we never quite know the truth of Gloucester's murder, who has been deceiving whom, or who will commit the next treasonous act. And have I mentioned Shakespeare's language? Just stunning. Yet so compact.

Richard II to Bolingbroke “Good king, great king, and yet not greatly good,” (4i) Unpick that, and yet, ostensibly it's a throwaway line; the play is full of them. How does Shakespeare do it?

Having said that, I think this is a play that is begging to be seen not read. If this play has not stunned you on a reading, go and watch a good performance; so much is in the nuances of the language. During Elizabeth's reign the play was so politically explosive that the deposition scene could be performed, but could not be recorded as the written copy was treasonous. It wasn't published in full till 1608. In 1601,the Duke of Essex commissioned a public performance of a play, thought to be Richard II. The next morning he started a rebellion. (He was captured. The players were held for questioning but later released - however they performed the play at royal command to Elizabeth I the night before Essex was executed.) Explosive stuff.

As for a summary of the play, just 9 words from Richard will do it: “Give me the crown. Here, cousin, seize the crown;” (4i) Game of Thrones anyone?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New to Shakespeare?, 5 Mar 2013
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This review is from: King Richard II (Arden Shakespeare.Third Series) (Paperback)
I am new to Shakespeare and find the language quite difficult at times. I'm glad I am persevering and the Arden makes it so much better. It gives good explanations of words and phrases and is easy to follow. Gives good descriptions of the characters and their place in history and the play. There is loads of extra info in the book as a whole, I imagine anyone studying would find this useful. I am doing it for leisure and when I watched Richard11 in the Hollow Crown series it was so much better having read this book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good History, 31 July 2003
By 
Meredith Bruce (Ardmore, Oklahoma United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: King Richard II (Arden Shakespeare.Third Series) (Paperback)
Richard II is the second longest play that Shakespeare wrote. I chose this book for a university class and it really was the best choice for me. I needed something that could tell me the meaning of a word and also the history of the line that was said. It explained much more than I expected, which was wonderful. I highly recomend the Arden edition of Richard II.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard II - Impressions after having used the book, 25 May 2012
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This review is from: King Richard II (Arden Shakespeare.Third Series) (Paperback)
Speaking only from personal experience, this book about Richard II lives up to the excellent reputation that many a book from the Arden collection has come to gain.Specifically this edition is a very rich and varied source of information which helps to gain insight not only in the text and the story, but in a very clear way also paints a good picture of the historical background for this play. Richard II being one of the plays of the 2nd tetralogy (a series of 4 plays that are connected) might not be as famous as the other Richard play, being Richard III to not name the play, but once one starts reading it, one is seduced by the very poetic language which is very beautiful. There are some wonderful monologues - and quite long ones to that - to be found here.
The play is all about patriotism, family ties, envy, struggle for power, and starts to raise some questions on the "Divine rights of Kings". Is King Richard a "good" King ? He surely has every right to be the King through sheer law, by which the first son in line inherits the throne. But is he a King who takes into account to upkeep a good relationship with both his nobles at the court and his subjects ? Has he a right to seize the lands of a nobleman he has bansihed, thus braking a promise he made ...?

I think this is absolutely a must read. You've got mostly detailed information and explanation of many words in their context at the bottom of each page, and this really helps to understand the bigger picture and the meaning of what is said.

I hope I have be able to encourage whomsoever reads this review to dive into the wonderful and rich world of Shakespeare. It takes some effort to get accustomed to the language,but once you're in the swing, it only get's easier ...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 26 Jun 2014
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This review is from: King Richard II (Kindle Edition)
There's nothing to dislike about this book if you're a Shakespeare fan - it's a good quality Kindle book which I recommend to all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite Shakespeare plays, 9 May 2014
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I bought this after watching the theatre production. I love the historical reference and the political attire within the play. Its amazing to think how long ago it was written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE TYPESETTERS’ ART, 7 April 2014
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This review is from: King Richard II (Arden Shakespeare.Third Series) (Paperback)
There can never be a Fourth Arden Shakespeare. Coloured pictures must never run in the silent cinema where The Arden runs its “Priscian but a little scratched” 38mm projections. Coloured plates! Among the woodcuts it would be frightening. This unwieldy Richard II (600 pages with index) is an example of the mighty Third Arden. In print this is clearly as far as it is possible to go with ink on thicker paper. The thinner stock chosen for the second Arden (300 pages no index) looks a very slim piece of work by its side; dashed off in “a term’s leave of absence” for which, in its preface, Peter Ure breathlessly thanks “the Council of King’s College”.

Why so thick? After six years’ work, Charles R. Forker disingenuously apologises for hefty quotation in the footnotes from Holinshed and Woodstock and all the rest; that might “overwhelm the text”. On top of obsessive noting of every alexandrine and compulsive suggestions how failures in the pentameter might be force fed to us, it is indeed hard to tell the rooky wood from the paper pulp of the trees. Unlike The Cambridge which has sensibly decided to add accents to the basic text, there is a footnote for every single accented è. It takes some time to become familiar with the Arden abbreviations: SD, SP, t.n. and LN. It is not difficult; but the constant turning back; looking for willow wands to divine for an abbreviations list; checking the bibliography; hailing a taxi and speeding along in the long notes, getting out while the meter is running; stopping the reading, is finally depressing. This is as far as we can take the typesetters art. It is no longer the way to go. We want something we can look at on the phone.

I dream of a day when copyright is laughed at; when we’ll be able to put our own text together. Feel free to use my joke about “willow wands” without acknowledgement. We can be free to cut and paste from all the Ardens of the past, link to Capell, Samuel Johnson and Abbott and see facsimiles of the pages they wrote. After Baptists like me, there will come a Jimmy Wales who will provide, for every word, links to dictionary etymologies and meanings; one click for footnotes and a double click for the actual line in all FIVE Quarto facsimiles and the Folio; buttons and apps so that we could find video clips of the very lines being spoken in every play on record; even deeper: the audio files. The future for The Arden must be as it was for my yellowing red and black Penguin Roget’s Thesaurus. The relational databases of The Internet have shown us The Way. Imagine your own text of Shakespeare, endlessly variable to taste; to see it unsullied by footnotes unless we choose, at mouseover, to mark our doorposts and sit back for a variorum aurora borealis of The Northern Lights.

As long as we think like children, we must defer to those with tenure and university gowns, until we can place experts like Charles R. Forker; who himself, in this magisterial masterpiece, gives us pause to weigh the declamations of the earlier Arden editors, Ivor B. John and Peter Ure, old Phaetons of the past, that are now apart from the fires at the cloaking edge of black, wholly eclipsed.

To be called from the badlands of scholarship to the aerie regions of immortality with the prospect of regular employment with The Arden Shakespeare, must strike a man “more dead than a great reckoning in a little room”. It is clear that the benediction of the Arden call is less an acknowledgement of expertise in the field than that it comes with humility. The chosen ones must join with, but defer to Arden associates, deservedly immortal, that include Richard Proudfoot and George Walton Williams; both acknowledged in the Richard II commentary as RP and GWW. The self-aggrandizing Professor Stanley Wells, now, as we speak, trawling The Internet for his own name, would NEVER have been called. This Arden compliments Wells by quoting his subtle insights verbatim on many occasions.

Charles R. Forker is as safe a pair of hands as ever wore a strait jacket. He never strays from orthodoxy to commandeer the methodology of Brian Vickers to assert that the old play “Woodstock” discovered in 1870 by Halliwell might be by Shakespeare and is essential to understanding the artistry of the canon’s Richard II.
The high water mark of the typesetters art is moved higher in any Arden. Do the, as ever, unrecorded Arden journeymen typesetters, treading warily upon such holy ground, ever imagine being presented with laurels as their Tudor forebears have been? Has anyone pointed out that in the second Arden “Egerton 1994” is referred to as “1944”? Was this obfuscation intentional? Or was it “eye-skip” of a latter-day “Compositor B” or “Simmes’s Compositor A”?

Imagining the play that we now know as “Richard II” as it was rehearsed and performed by the original Elizabethans in castles and country manor houses and then for the London theatres; its revival with the deposition scene for The Essex rebellion; imagining what it was that Shakespeare actually wrote; deciding between the quartos and the folio to reach a consensus upon what might be a definitive text; deciding whether to bring in to the canon other texts or whether to exclude “Thomas of Woodstock” or call it “1Richard II”; and the recalling of performances of plays now available on DVD and those seen in real life; are so thoroughly covered in the authority that goes by the name of The Arden Shakespeare; we must think that no more can ever be said. The Arden however, far from ever having the final word, has established that there can be no final word, but nowhere else between two covers is there an attempt to summarise ALL that has gone before. It will never be done again or done better.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, 4 Dec 2013
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This review is from: King Richard II (Kindle Edition)
Got this for a quick read and refresh before watching David Tennant in role
Excellent as ever, much lighter than carrying round a paper version!
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Shakespeare's great history plays which is not always performed but I ..., 26 Nov 2013
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This review is from: King Richard II (Kindle Edition)
One of Shakespeare's great history plays which is not always performed but I read the text as I was privileged to be at the first live screening of the play, from the Festival Theatre in Stratford worldwode and to cities in England. I thoroughly enjoyed the play which has some truly memorable speeches in it. The Kindle version is very approachable with good highlights.
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King Richard II (Arden Shakespeare.Third Series)
King Richard II (Arden Shakespeare.Third Series) by William Shakespeare (Paperback - 21 Mar 2002)
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