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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arden Shakespeare
In some respects I think it'd be rather presumptuous of me to attempt to review Shakespeare. Someone so well known and influential wouldn't benefit from my opinions on their work, plus there are more scholarly and concise reviews out there. But I can comment on these Arden versions. Of all the Shakespeare I've read I've always found the Arden copies to be well laid out...
Published on 3 Nov 2007 by Spider Monkey

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beware the penny book - Loose pages?
Over 20 pages were not attached to the binding, which was not indicated in the description on purchase, but full refund given without question (including keeping the book!) Certainly not suitable for teenage school use! And what a waste of time and resources! Not-so-Awesome-book.
Published on 1 Oct 2010 by economum


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arden Shakespeare, 3 Nov 2007
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series) (Paperback)
In some respects I think it'd be rather presumptuous of me to attempt to review Shakespeare. Someone so well known and influential wouldn't benefit from my opinions on their work, plus there are more scholarly and concise reviews out there. But I can comment on these Arden versions. Of all the Shakespeare I've read I've always found the Arden copies to be well laid out and to have excellent commentary and notes on the text. They really add to your understanding of Shakespeares outstanding plays and introduce you to the depth in his work. They have superb paper quality and are bound well, withstanding repeated readings and intensive study. For your collection of Shakespeare you can't do much better than Arden publications, some are quite hard to get hold of but it's worth the effort.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not one of Shakespeare's best known plays, 5 Sep 2005
By 
Budge Burgess (Troon, Scotland) - See all my reviews
By no means a well-known play compared to Shakespeare's tragedies, or even many of his history plays, "Much Ado About Nothing" remains a popular theatrical production, a play which offers dynamic, meaty parts and provides actors with challenging vehicles for the display of their talents. In a sense, it is a play driven by its players, its text bristling with wit and energy, its themes and concepts regularly re-interpreted and re-presented by the great actors and producers of succeeding ages.
"Much Ado" is a play about courtly society and its preoccupation with love and marriage, with 'form', and with the appropriateness of suitors and matches. Love is one thing, but marriage involves power, money, and property rights and succession. It's a play about rules - often unwritten, usually unspoken, but which are learned by social osmosis and which appear in the niceties of etiquette, manners, and social trivia, providing fragile bastions to status and breeding. Despite their apparently ephemeral nature, these are rules which are very real, and not without severe sanction.
But "Much Ado" is also a play about the breaking of rules, about their use and transformation, obeying, instead, the demands and commands of love. Much of the dynamic of the play lies in the contrast between the two couples, Beatrice & Benedick and Claudio and Hero. The former are the liberated archetypes, the latter a more classical pairing.
It's a play which has been repeatedly interpreted and reinterpreted in the light of changing social mores and tastes. Much of the difficulty in studying the play lies in teasing out Shakespeare's intent from the layers of meaning and interpretation with which it has been lacquered.
There are numerous editions of the text available - Amazon doesn't seem to enable individual reviews to appear (indeed, the book section of "Much Ado" seems to be dominated by comments on a film version). However, for the student, there are distinct advantages in getting the right text.
Of the various versions available on the market, I have to say that the Arden edition presents an authoritative text and extensive set of notes - notes on context and language also appear at the foot of each page of the play, itself. The long introduction is extremely rewarding and informative, and further notes on the play are included in appendices. Overall, I'd rate this the best edition for the serious scholar.
The New Cambridge Shakespeare is a sophisticated resource - it provides some sixty pages of an Introduction, analysing the play and providing the sort of intellectual baseline sixth form and first year university students need. It offers further analysis at the end of the play. The text, itself, is beautifully printed, with tight little notes at the foot of each page (you may find you need glasses to follow these, however). Still, an edition to be recommended.
The Cambridge School Shakespeare provides lots of ideas for groupwork and class analysis of text and themes, and must provide teachers with an excellent practical resource with which to engage their class. The text appears on the right hand page, notes and commentary are kept to the left hand page - making it very accessible and readable. There is also a quality feel to the paper and printing.
The Longman's School Shakespeare also provides notes on the left hand page, text on the right. The text is, perhaps, better presented than the Cambridge 'School' edition - it is slightly more expansive and lucid. The notes, however, don't feel as robust as in the Cambridge edition - they're more limited and less comprehensive.
The Oxford School Shakespeare is, I feel, the weakest of the 'school' editions. Overall, I didn't find it as dynamic or thought-provoking as the others. It provides a brief synopsis, a scene by scene analysis, and some useful notes. But text and notes run together on the same page, giving it a congested, claustrophobic feel which I found disconcerting.
The New Penguin version bears the imprimatur of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It's the most portable version - it'll fit in a pocket or bag. The text is presented without benefit of notes on the page - you have to keep referring to the back of the book to find these. The notes are comprehensive and thought provoking. Given that the play is largely written in prose, there can be dense blocks of dialogue on the page and, with the smaller size of the Penguin, it can make it look more daunting than needs be. The introduction can also be a touch dense and academic in places - it is worth persevering with it, for it does have some excellent points to make. The Penguin edition is an excellent, portable one, but it has its drawbacks.
The Dover Thrift edition, meanwhile, is precisely that. The bare bones of the text, no notes to speak of, and a very 'economical' feel to print and paper quality.
For school work, I'd go for the Cambridge or Longman's, for the keen student, the Arden edition is my top recommendation, followed by the New Cambridge. However, if you are studying the play, it is worth collaborating with some of your fellow students - you each acquire a different edition of the text, then you can compare and contrast the notes and commentaries.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By my troth, a good book, 16 May 2010
This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series) (Paperback)
An excellent edition of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. The introduction is long and very detailed helping you to understand the time and context of the piece though I would recommend reading the play first. Similarly, the text comes with copious notes, some of which can seem at times overly detailed but do help the modern reader to decipher some of the more complex passages. Again I would recommend reading the play fully before attempting to read with notes because they are so long that you will lose track of your place within the play if you attempt to read them all while following the story. This is a text which is most appropriate to someone new to Shakespeare or studying the text at school or university due to the large number of notes. The more experienced reader might prefer the RSC edition, for example, who's notes mainly consist of definitions rather than the longer dictionary/encyclopaedic notes of this edition.

As for the play itself, Much Ado About Nothing is in my opinion one of Shakespeare's greatest comedies. It tackles many subjects including love, deception, loyalty and loss and can be both tender, tagic and comic. It is mainly in prose, though there are some passages in verse.

Altogether a great buy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bargain Purchase, 7 Sep 2010
This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series) (Paperback)
This book arrived promptly -was very well packaged and looked brand new.Excellent service.
Well it was Shakespeare - so content was as good as might be expected from witty old Will and the notes in the Arden edition were as erudite and informative as ever and helped to unlock the humour for modern readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars as good today as when it was wrote, 6 Feb 2010
This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series) (Paperback)
This is a classic tale of love, it can be closely compared to modern day romantic comedies, it has something for everybody, love, romance, comedy, tension and drama and huge helping of shakespeare's puns and innuendoes. The language can be difficult to read at times, but the beauty of this edition is at the foot of each page is a well written explanation of the terms and language used of the day. It's a fairly short play but has enough charactors to keep you enthralled and you wont be able to put it down until you have finished and like me you will probably read it again straight away. Buy the kenneth branagh version DVD film is is very close to the play and helps you visualise the scenes superbly.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not one of Shakespeare's best known plays, 5 Sep 2005
By 
Budge Burgess (Troon, Scotland) - See all my reviews
By no means a well-known play compared to Shakespeare's tragedies, or even many of his history plays, "Much Ado About Nothing" remains a popular theatrical production, a play which offers dynamic, meaty parts and provides actors with challenging vehicles for the display of their talents. In a sense, it is a play driven by its players, its text bristling with wit and energy, its themes and concepts regularly re-interpreted and re-presented by the great actors and producers of succeeding ages.
"Much Ado" is a play about courtly society and its preoccupation with love and marriage, with 'form', and with the appropriateness of suitors and matches. Love is one thing, but marriage involves power, money, and property rights and succession. It's a play about rules - often unwritten, usually unspoken, but which are learned by social osmosis and which appear in the niceties of etiquette, manners, and social trivia, providing fragile bastions to status and breeding. Despite their apparently ephemeral nature, these are rules which are very real, and not without severe sanction.
But "Much Ado" is also a play about the breaking of rules, about their use and transformation, obeying, instead, the demands and commands of love. Much of the dynamic of the play lies in the contrast between the two couples, Beatrice & Benedick and Claudio and Hero. The former are the liberated archetypes, the latter a more classical pairing.
It's a play which has been repeatedly interpreted and reinterpreted in the light of changing social mores and tastes. Much of the difficulty in studying the play lies in teasing out Shakespeare's intent from the layers of meaning and interpretation with which it has been lacquered.
There are numerous editions of the text available - Amazon doesn't seem to enable individual reviews to appear (indeed, the book section of "Much Ado" seems to be dominated by comments on a film version). However, for the student, there are distinct advantages in getting the right text.
Of the various versions available on the market, I have to say that the Arden edition presents an authoritative text and extensive set of notes - notes on context and language also appear at the foot of each page of the play, itself. The long introduction is extremely rewarding and informative, and further notes on the play are included in appendices. Overall, I'd rate this the best edition for the serious scholar.
The New Cambridge Shakespeare is a sophisticated resource - it provides some sixty pages of an Introduction, analysing the play and providing the sort of intellectual baseline sixth form and first year university students need. It offers further analysis at the end of the play. The text, itself, is beautifully printed, with tight little notes at the foot of each page (you may find you need glasses to follow these, however). Still, an edition to be recommended.
The Cambridge School Shakespeare provides lots of ideas for groupwork and class analysis of text and themes, and must provide teachers with an excellent practical resource with which to engage their class. The text appears on the right hand page, notes and commentary are kept to the left hand page - making it very accessible and readable. There is also a quality feel to the paper and printing.
The Longman's School Shakespeare also provides notes on the left hand page, text on the right. The text is, perhaps, better presented than the Cambridge 'School' edition - it is slightly more expansive and lucid. The notes, however, don't feel as robust as in the Cambridge edition - they're more limited and less comprehensive.
The Oxford School Shakespeare is, I feel, the weakest of the 'school' editions. Overall, I didn't find it as dynamic or thought-provoking as the others. It provides a brief synopsis, a scene by scene analysis, and some useful notes. But text and notes run together on the same page, giving it a congested, claustrophobic feel which I found disconcerting.
The New Penguin version bears the imprimatur of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It's the most portable version - it'll fit in a pocket or bag. The text is presented without benefit of notes on the page - you have to keep referring to the back of the book to find these. The notes are comprehensive and thought provoking. Given that the play is largely written in prose, there can be dense blocks of dialogue on the page and, with the smaller size of the Penguin, it can make it look more daunting than needs be. The introduction can also be a touch dense and academic in places - it is worth persevering with it, for it does have some excellent points to make. The Penguin edition is an excellent, portable one, but it has its drawbacks.
The Dover Thrift edition, meanwhile, is precisely that. The bare bones of the text, no notes to speak of, and a very 'economical' feel to print and paper quality.
For school work, I'd go for the Cambridge or Longman's, for the keen student, the Arden edition is my top recommendation, followed by the New Cambridge. However, if you are studying the play, it is worth collaborating with some of your fellow students - you each acquire a different edition of the text, then you can compare and contrast the notes and commentaries.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not my favourite Shakespeare but worth a read, 16 July 2014
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This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series) (Paperback)
I've studied Much Ado About Nothing twice and seen a fair few productions of it, but still haven't quite made up my mind how I feel about it. It's an odd play for me. While it has darker elements in it I'd always seen it as a bit too light hearted. However I reread it recently and was then drawn into a conversation about its portrayal of women and found myself seeing it as more multifaceted than I had previously. I'm still confused about whether I like it or not.
This edition was recommended to me by my teacher and it served me well.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beware the penny book - Loose pages?, 1 Oct 2010
Over 20 pages were not attached to the binding, which was not indicated in the description on purchase, but full refund given without question (including keeping the book!) Certainly not suitable for teenage school use! And what a waste of time and resources! Not-so-Awesome-book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every penny, 10 Dec 2012
By 
P. Pestille (France) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Much Ado About Nothing (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series) (Paperback)
Brilliant edition of Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing' with notes on practically every sentence, offering alternative points or meanings that you may not have noticed; it allows you to enjoy the play how it was intended. An introduction analyses every character, part of the play, nook and cranny whilst the notes on each page of the play offer insights as you go along. I would highly recommend the Arden addition if you are studying the play or just want to read it for leisure, it reveals Shakespeare's wit in full and enhance's the brilliant comedy of the play.
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1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, 30 July 2014
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copy rather dirty annotated in ink received rather late
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Much Ado About Nothing (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series)
Much Ado About Nothing (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series) by William Shakespeare (Paperback - 16 May 2005)
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